Best of the Fests


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January, they tell us, is going to be lean and mean. So let’s have a theater festival! Two of them, actually, curated by a pair of artistic directors who put the “we” back into weird. Truthfully, everything in the Under the Radar and Coil festivals intrigues, but unless your hedge fund did especially well in 2008, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to catch all the shows on offer. Someone’s got to separate the “Huh?” from the “What?” so here, like wine, are some pairings to consider. As ever, please don’t drink in the dramaturgy and drive.



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Under the Radar Festival


Venue: The Public Theater

Dates: Jan. 7-Jan. 18


Head Honcho: Mark Russell


What He Does: “Basically I run around the world as much as I can and visit a lot of festivals. I even send some of my staff to see festivals and I look at a lot of DVDs. Very often the selection of a piece is from triangulation: someone sees something in Dublin and says it’s great, then so does this other person, then I watch the tape. It’s not my preferred way to program but it is one way it’s done.”


Early Favorite Show: Folk song freak out Into the Dark Unknown: The Hope Chest


Dark Horse Show: The actors group therapy session of LIGA, 50% Reward & 50% Punishment


Obscure Pick for Production: An adaptation of the early Beckett novella First Love



Biggest Star Included: A cool, Korean adaptation of Georg Bchner’s superstar Woyzeck

Interesting Imports: Sight is the Sense That Dying People Tend to Lose First from the U.K.


Leave Mother Home For...: The sonic pseudonymity of Transition


 
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Coil Festival



Venue: Performance Space 122



Dates: Jan. 9-Jan. 16


Head Honcho: Vallejo Gantner

What He Does: “When I arrived in New York I was looking at everything happening and trying to figure out how to give opportunities to companies whose work we’d presented who were also ready to tour. The APAP—Association of Performing Arts Presenters—conference is in January and it’s full of 10-minute showcases. I thought, well, this is silly—let’s create a concentrated festival at P.S. 122 that would attract international presenters and national presenters. So we just started doing it.”


Early Favorite Show: The American cultural paradiso Architecting

Dark Horse Show: Pirandello on ecstasy in the cinematic Welcome to Nowhere (Bullet Hole Road)


Obscure Pick for Production: The fucked-up family fun of Lewis Forever: Freak the Room


Biggest Star Included: An upending of Carl Th. Dreyer’s immortal 1928 film The Passion Project


Interesting Imports: Geisha from Israel


Leave Mother Home For...: The untruth-telling “original MILF” of Trash Warfare


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