Off-Broadway offerings for the weekend

There’s a full slate of streaming options coming this weekend from Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway, with a multi-faceted variety that truly offers something for everyone, from an audio drama to a video exhibition, a benefit production to a range of personal commentaries on our current times.

Keen Company, Digging in the Dark – The acclaimed Keen Company continues its 21st year with the world premiere of a newly commissioned work by award-winning writer Pearl Cleage (Blues for an Alabama Sky) as part of its free Hear/Now season of original audio plays (and Cleage’s first in the medium) that reimagine the classic radio drama. The story of familial conflict takes listeners to a moonless night on a wooded estate outside Atlanta, where a woman, determined to settle an old score before sunrise, awaits the arrival of her scheming brother, who is coming to claim a valuable family heirloom. Taylor Reynolds directs the cast of Rachel Christopher, OBIE Award winner Russell G. Jones, and Janelle McDermoth, with sound design by Fan Zhang.

Digging in the Dark debuts on Friday February 26, 7pm, at Keen Company and on all popular podcasting apps (Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, and others); a full transcript will also be available for deaf and hard-of-hearing patrons. The audio play is free, but those who would like to support the company can purchase a season membership (starting at $1/month), which provides early access to all episodes and bonus content, including talkbacks with playwrights and artists, panel discussions with experts, behind-the-scenes interviews, digital programs, opening-night parties, and more.

the cell theatre, The Signal Through the Noise – In the fourth installment of the cell’s ongoing online serial Tolerance Party, written and directed by Joe Hendel and co-presented with DimlyWit Productions, two young characters find themselves in a breakout room, where they must listen through the white noise, interpret its meaning, and find common ground to bring “it” back to life. Viewers are encouraged to partake in the challenge and to engage in a live chat throughout the performance. The cast features Heather Mo’Witz, India Meñete, and Brian Reager; production design is by DimlyWit, with original music by Ricardo Romaneiro, co-conceived by Artistic Director Kira Simring

The Signal Through the Noise streams Friday February 26, 8 pm-Monday, March 1, midnight. Tickets are available on a sliding scale, from $5-25; members of the cell TV will have access to the performance.

Robyn Edges by Rachel Rampleman.

the cell, Life Is a Drag – In addition to its online production, the cell is hosting an exhibition of video portraits by New York-based artist Rachel Rampleman, a portion of which were filmed throughout the pandemic during her residency at the cell’s space on West 23rd Street. Documenting performers of the exploding international alt-drag and burlesque scenes, Rampleman explores the subjects of gender, artifice, and spectacle, in more than four hours and counting of videos, featuring over 60 portraits of artists from around the globe who revel in challenging the clichés associated with masculinity and femininity.

Life Is a Drag runs through March 28, Saturdays and Sundays, from noon-6 pm, at the cell, 338 West 23rd Street, Gallery Floor, NYC. The exhibit is free and open to the public; capacity is limited. Patrons are required to follow all city mandated COVID-19 precautions, including mandatory mask-wearing, filling out a contact-free survey for symptoms and potential exposure, and a digital temperature check before entry.

The Seeing Place Theater, Sweat – Next up in TSP’s Ripple for Change series (celebrating non-profit organizations that are making invaluable contributions in social justice) is Lynn Nottage’s 2017 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, which examines income inequality, incarceration, corporate greed, union strife, and racial tension in working-class America. Set in a bar in Reading, PA, the time-shifting narrative (with a running time of two hours and fifteen minutes, plus a ten-minute intermission) follows a group of long-time friends and factory workers whose relationships deteriorate as a result of divisions between management and labor, and the company’s moving of jobs to Mexico. Directed by Brandon Walker, the production stars an ensemble of over 50% BIPOC performers, including immigrants from Colombia and the Dominican Republic, with sound design by Walker and scenic and costume design by Erin Cronican.

Presented as a benefit for The Fortune Society (whose mission is to support successful re-entry after imprisonment and to promote alternatives to incarceration), the production will be followed on March 3, at 7 pm, by a talk-back via Zoom on “Action Steps – Racism and Economics: The Social Impact of Recession” with expert panelists from the community. To register for the free event, click here.

Sweat streams live via Zoom on Friday, February 27, 7 pm, and Saturday, February 28, 3 pm, and will be available February 28-March 3, on YouTube. For tickets, priced $10-50, call (866) 811-4111, or go online.

New York Neo-Futurists, The Darkest Web – Now in its 17th season, the award-winning NYNF collective of writers-directors-performers is continuing its programming on Saturday, February 27, with a one-night-only online rendition of the company’s annual live show The Blackest Wrench. Conceived in conjunction with Black History Month by NYNF ensemble member Kyra Sims in 2017, the event celebrates Blackness in its many forms. This year’s installment, co-hosted by Sims and Greg Lakhan, features the ensemble’s Black artists in a barrage of personal experiences, creative storytelling, and clever commentaries on how the NYNF members are navigating their worlds in 2021’s iteration of America.

The Darkest Web streams on Saturday, February 27, at 8 pm. In an attempt to make the event as accessible as possible, tickets are priced on a sliding scale from $5, with all proceeds going to pay the NYNF artists.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Just announced by the cell, in conjunction with its Life Is a Drag video exhibition: “On Saturday, March 13, at 5 pm, come see Darlinda Just Darlinda and Mimi Silk do what they do best in our windows along 23rd St. The performance is free of charge, but donations are greatly appreciated! Please be sure to maintain social distancing from other audience members.”

  2. Life Is a Drag has been extended again at the cell theatre, through April 18. Live street-side performances have also been added on Saturdays at 6 pm, featuring the performers captured in the video exhibition. The lineup is as follows: March 20 – Anna Monoxide, Foxy Belle Afriq, Chartruice, and Fem Appeal; March 27 – Unforgivable Emotional Carnivore featuring God Complex, Esther, Menthol Menthol; April 3 – a “Bontemps & Lace Production” featuring Uncle Freak, Egregious Philbin, Chevy Lace and C’etait Bontemps.

    The performances are free of charge, however tips and donations are greatly appreciated. Masks are required and audiences are asked to maintain social distance from others throughout the length of the pop-up performance. The exhibition will extend hours until 7 pm on the days of the performances and will be available to view on the cell’s third-floor gallery. Visitors will have the opportunity to engage with the performers during gallery hours prior to the performance.

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