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New York Theatre Workshop

Founded in 1979 by Stephen Graham, New York Theatre Workshop (NYTW) is dedicated to ensuring the robust and compelling presence of the artist in our society. This mission is manifested in two distinct but equally important focuses of activity: first through producing an annual season of productions in our 199-seat theater in Manhattan’s East Village and second, by inviting theatre-makers at all stages of their careers, to participate in activities that allow them to gain support for both themselves and their projects.
http://www.nytw.org/

The House That Will Not Stand

August 7, 2018

Gardley makes use of a little known piece of American history: while Louisiana was under Spanish and later French rule, it had a three-tiered racial system. Aside from white settlers and black slaves, there was a third class: free women of color (mostly Creoles) could enter into a relationship with white men as common-law wives. Their children could inherit part of their estates. Some of these so-called “colored” women became extremely rich. This system was called plaçage and such women were known as placeés. The lighter the woman’s skin color the higher her social caste. However, when Louisiana was sold to the new United States in 1803, this system was frowned upon and eventually went out of style around 1813 due to legal challenges. [more]

Light Shining in Buckinghamshire

May 14, 2018

There’s a brilliant play buried somewhere in Caryl Churchill’s "Light Shining in Buckinghamshire," a bottom-up historical epic about the English Civil War that the acclaimed British writer developed collaboratively with director Max Stafford-Clark and a group of actors back in 1976. Fifteen years later, it premiered stateside at the New York Theatre Workshop, where it has just returned for a ploddingly drawn-out second go-around that yielded a lot of empty second-act seats on the night I attended. [more]

An Ordinary Muslim

March 14, 2018

The trouble is that there is nothing new or daring or particularly interesting about the play despite its intriguing subject matter.  It is an old-fashioned play—think warmed over Clifford Odets with a touch of Chekhov and more than a few hints of Greek hubris—that deals with the treatment of Pakistani-British Muslims in Great Britain, specifically West London, 2011.  It is full of clichéd writing including having characters appear just as their name is brought up. [more]

Hundred Days

December 12, 2017

Written by The Bengsons and Sarah Gancher, the show presents a stylized take on the couple’s love at first sight meeting, the complications it caused with their partners at the time, their instant romance and quick marriage.  It’s a New York story as they lived in Astoria, there’s mention of a memorable walk from Canal Street to The Cloisters, and a trip to Coney Island is pivotal. [more]

Mary Jane

October 4, 2017

The ambiguities in Mary Jane’s character seem to stem more from the writing than the acting: though her behavior remains dubious or questionable, Mary Jane comes to real life as enacted by Carrie Coon, who was such a memorable Honey in the recent Broadway revival of "Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" She’s a solid Mary Jane as well, but then, the character and her motives prove harder to pin down. The stalwart New York actress Brenda Wehle is a perfectly believable and no-nonsense Ruthie. The always reliable Liza Colón-Zayas is Alex’s caregiver Sherry, and Danaya Esperanza and Susan Pourfar are persuasive as, respectively Sherry’s niece and another mother with similar challenges. [more]

The Object Lesson

February 15, 2017

Illusionist/actor Geoff Sobelle’s show is a combination of happening, art installation, and a meditation on the role objects have in our lives. Using audience participation, objects both hidden and seen, and magical illusion, Sobelle forces us to examine out relationship to the objects in our lives as well as how they ultimately define us when seen altogether as the detritus of a life. Performed in 11 segments with no intermission, "The Object Lesson" is not for everyone, but for those willing to go with the flow and give themselves up to Sobelle’s droll reflection, self-examination and visual theatrics, the evening is fascinating and rewarding. [more]

Othello (New York Theatre Workshop)

December 21, 2016

Two ways to invigorate Shakespeare in our time is to either cast actors not identified with classical roles or to reset the play in some unfamiliar setting. Sam Gold’s magnificent production of "Othello" at the New York Theatre Workshop has done both. [more]

Nat Turner in Jerusalem

October 4, 2016

The playwright sets the action in Turner’s jail cell where he’s chained up, visited by Gray, and overseen by a guard, the night before his execution. Mr. Davis states that this situation is a fabrication inspired by the book. A possibly unreliable account is the source material for this even more fanciful dramatization. Davis even expresses through the mercenary Gray the possibility that his chronicle will be sensationally tailored in order to sell more books. [more]

Red Speedo

March 18, 2016

The play is made up of a series of six confrontations in which the dialogue is delivered like bullets flying back and forth. While the story is engrossing, the individual conversations all go on a bit too long, and get tiresome before they are each over. Then the next one takes us by surprise all over again. However, what is unique about the play is that the athlete in question eventually is seen to be a monster. His sense of entitlement has been overwhelming: he has expected his lawyer brother to get him out of trouble each time he got himself into another mess, and his brother has been supporting him all these years, paying all of his bills but with a family of his own to provide for. But worst of all is Ray’s absence of a sense of morality in a culture where winning is everything. He is willing to kill for fame and fortune and whoever he destroys along the way does not concern him. [more]

Lazarus

December 25, 2015

Although this is the eighth show minimalist director Ivo van Hove has directed for New York Theatre Workshop, one would be hard put to recognize it as his. The production uses Tal Yarden’s almost continual streaming video, slide projections, a huge screen representing a television monitor, and an on-stage band made of seven musicians. The pink beige set is often turned into other locales with video which covers all three walls of the set. The band sits behind the set but is often revealed when Venetian blinds on the back wall of Newton’s apartment occasionally open for actors to be seen behind the windows or for the video to transform the stage like cinematic cuts into scenes from various locales. Like Roeg’s movie version of "The Man Who Fell to Earth," Lazarus makes use of surrealistic imagery that gives the evening a psychedelic sensibility. [more]

Forever

May 13, 2015

The press performance under review left audiences hanging on her every word, as Orlandersmith painted a picture of the challenging and draining relationship she had with her mother, including the arguments, the name-calling, the shame and her mother’s constant need for security and attention. Well-spoken and tuned into her emotions, Orlandersmith has a true ability to connect with a large room, making them feel every emotion and sensation that she was feeling. She didn’t sugarcoat one detail and her authenticity aided in processing each thought and feeling, and ultimately allowed Orlandersmith to rise above her past. [more]

The Events

February 18, 2015

New York Theatre Workshop is hosting Britain’s Actors Touring Company production of Scottish playwright David Greig’s acclaimed Edinburgh Festival Fringe hit, "The Events." With the London cast again directed by Ramin Gray, artistic director of ATC, this play inspired by the horrendous massacre in Norway by a lone gunman in 2011, is a powerful drama of communal grief after a mass shooting compellingly depicting the catharsis reached by its leading character, a female Scottish vicar. Unfortunately, where this unusual play falls short is that the audience, while cerebrally involved, does not also undergo a similar catharsis. Among the novel techniques of the production is the use of a different choir at each performance and the use of that choir to play members of the community. [more]

The Invisible Hand

December 22, 2014

Pakistani-American playwright Ayad Akhtar has been having a very good year. His second play, "The Who and the What," had its premiere this summer at Lincoln Center’s Claire Tow Theatre as part of the LC3 season. His 2013 Pulitzer Prize winner "Disgraced" reopened on Broadway on October 23 at the Lyceum Theatre to critical acclaim. And now New York Theatre Workshop is giving the New York premiere of his play "The Invisible Hand," under the direction of Ken Rus Schmoll. While the first two plays took place in the United States, this new play takes place in Pakistan. The play suggests that the roots of terrorism are not religious but monetary. [more]

Scenes from a Marriage

September 27, 2014

The three couples are played with fierce conviction, total commitment and great talent by a corps of strong actors seemingly also cast for their individuality. Alex Hurt and Susannah Flood are the young couple. Dallas Roberts and Roslyn Ruff are the middle-aged couple. Arliss Howard and Tina Benko are the older couple. They appear to have been cast for their differences rather than any similarities. [more]

City Center Encores production of Jonathan Larson’s “tick, tick..BOOM!”

July 17, 2014

The audience packing City Center--whether applauding or laughing or cheering--certainly showed its enthusiasm throughout. The opening scene of "tick, tick...BOOM!" is very powerfully and economically written. I admire Larson's writing. Hearing those ticks (representing the relentless passing of time), and anticipating the coming boom (of an impending disaster that is somehow sensed without being fully understood) ... well, that came from a deep place. [more]