June is proving to be a busy month for NYC theater, with a rich variety of virtual offerings from Gingold Theatrical Group (GTG), National Asian American Theatre Company (NAATCO), and Vangeline
Now in its 16th season, GTG continues its new play development with the Phase 1 Plays-In-Progress from this year’s Speaker’s Corner Writers Group. Named after the corner of London’s Hyde Park where George Bernard Shaw and other political speakers have delivered speeches since 1855, the group consists of six to ten writers each year, who spend the time exploring a specific play by Shaw and writing individual new plays in response to his text and forward-thinking humanitarian ideals.
This year’s six free virtual table readings, which began on June 5, and run through June 17, feature works-in-development inspired by Shaw’s Arms and the Man, by writers Kate Douglas (The Apiary, directed by Colette Robert, which launched the series), Aeneas Sagar Hemphill (Karma Sutra Chai Tea Latte, directed by Arpita Mukherjee, on June 8), Sophie Sagan-Gutherz (the scold’s bridle, directed by Jaye Hunt, on June 10), Seth McNeill (Untitled Conspiracy Play, directed by Lico Whitfield, on June 12), Divya Mangwani (Vigil-Aunties, directed by Aneesha Kudtarkar, on June 15), and Marcus Scott (There Goes the Neighborhood, directed by Christopher Burris, on June 17), all beginning at 7 pm.
GTG Associate Director Ilana Becker, who leads the Speaker’s Corner Writers Group, noted, “It has been a joy to witness and participate in the from-scratch development of these six ferociously funny, wildly intelligent, and genuinely ambitious plays. While they’re all unique pieces in tone and exploration, they’re also all distinctly emerging from this moment of vast friction and change.”
Tickets for the Phase 1 Plays-In-Progress readings are free; to register in advance for the Webinars, click here.
NAATCO, founded by Mia Katigbak and Richard Eng in 1989, to assert the presence and significance of Asian American theater in the US, presents the remote US premiere of What If If Only, a new play by British playwright Caryl Churchill. Realized for digital presentation by OBIE-winning directors Les Waters and Jared Mezzocchi, and working with Virtual Design Collective (ViDCo) – a newly founded collective of over 20 designers, programmers, and technicians using innovative ways for telling stories and creating communities online – the live nightly performances will stream Monday, June 7-Saturday, June 12, at 7 pm.
Katigbak said that the work, which she described as a “brilliantly written short play that contains harrowing insights, big heartbreaks, oceans of loneliness and grief, stillness and transmutation,” was brought to her by Waters, after asking Churchill to allow NAATCO to present it with an all-Asian American cast. She agreed; the NAATCO production, with a running time of fifteen minutes, features Katigbak, along with Paul Juhn, Kylie Kuioka, Jon Norman Schneider, and Bernard White.
Waters explained, “With every play, Caryl reinvents the question: what is a play? This play asks us what do we do when our loved one/partner dies? What could we have done that’s different? What if What if What if.” Mezzocchi added, “This text is such a robust landscape of the mind that it lends itself so incredibly to this form and I’m inspired to witness it unlocking new universes for the virtual performance space.”
For tickets to What If If Only, priced at $15, go online. Please note that this piece contains a sequence of flashing lights, which may affect viewers who are susceptible to photo-sensitive epilepsy or other photo-sensitivities.
In collaboration with the visionary Vangeline Theater/New York Butoh Institute, dedicated to the advancement of the postwar avant-garde movement form Butoh in the 21st century, Howl Arts will present free streams of the fifth annual edition of Queer Butoh. Making its return during Pride Month, the series features LGBTQ Butoh dancers from Singapore, South Africa, and Italy reflecting on the intersection of Queerness and Butoh.
Curated by teacher, dancer, choreographer, and founding artistic director Vangeline, the free Tuesday night digital series, beginning at 8 pm, comprises 60-minute pieces by XUE (Flowers, performed in Brooklyn, in 2019, with an introduction by the artist, accompaniment on electric guitar by John Barrington, and video documentation by Mika Orotea) on June 8; Damiano Fina (performing Helios, and discussing Queer Butoh Pedagogy) on June 15; and Tebby W. T. Ramasike (In Search of a Soul: A Blind Man’s Cry . . . the appeal, performed at TATWERK Berlin, in February 2015, with introduction by the artist) on June 22.