THE FringeBENEFITS SERIES
The end of summer is when we decide to torture ourselves with the New York International Fringe Festival. But since it’s celebrating 15 years, we’ve decided to treat ourselves to the best of the Fringe early. The series started May 5 and continues through Aug. 11. We can’t wait for the next go-round of The Complete Lost Works Of Samuel Beckett As Found In An Envelope (partially burned) In A Dustbin In Paris Labeled "Never to be performed. Never. Ever. EVER! Or I’ll Sue! I’LL SUE FROM THE GRAVE!," which we originally saw and loved in 2006. The comedy, from members of The Neo-Futurists and Theater Oobleck, is set for July 21. The Laurie Beechman Theater, located inside West Bank Cafe, 407 W. 42nd St. (at 9th Ave.), 212-352-3101; $20–$30 plus $15 food/drink min.
After 33 years, Ensemble Studio Theatre’s one-act play festival is still going strong, with options ranging from a rookie Chinese food deliveryman learning the ropes to men watching basketball on TV. If unproven talent gets you excited, the E.S.T. Fest is for you during the summer months. Series A: May 20–June 18, Series B: June 4–25, Ensemble Studio Theatre, 549 W. 52nd St. (at 10th Ave.), www.ensemblestudiotheatre.org; $18 per series.
Planet Connections Theatre Festivity
Yep, summer is the season for festivals, so to stand apart from the others, Planet Connections Theatre Festivity hails itself as "New York’s premiere eco-friendly theater festival." Boasting over 50 full productions (including one autobiographical piece by Elizabeth Taylor) and several staged readings throughout June, this fest lacks the brand recognition of the increasingly bloated NYC Fringe, which makes it all the more deserving of your time. June 1–26, various locations, www.planetconnectionsfestivity.com.
Shakespeare in the Park
The Public Theater returns with two of the Bard’s works, Measure for Measure and All’s Well That Ends Well. Where the former is one of Shakespeare’s darkest works, exploring the consequences of unchecked power, All’s Well That Ends Well is a sophisticated fairytale.
And don’t forget: It’s maybe the best of the summer impress-a-date ideas when you can score tickets. June 6–July 30, The Delacorte Theater, Central Park, enter park at W. 81st St. & Central Park West, 212-539-8500; 8, Free.
Theater & Spoken Word at SummerStage 2011
Look out for Sangre, an adaptation by Mando Alvardo of Lorca’s Blood Wedding, which travels from parks in the Bronx and Queens to end up at Central Park Aug. 17. The Faux Real Theatre presents classics—Oedipus Rex and Seven Against Thebes—in East River Park at the end of August. And the reliable Classical Theatre of Harlem presents a version of Henry V. SummerStage Theater presented by Time Warner June 7–Sept. 2, www.summerstage.org; Free.
Vignettes For The Apocalypse V
EndTimes Productions presents New York’s oldest and largest sci-fi/horror-themed theater festival, which offers 34 plays, a concert and a movie presented in nine evening-length programs, curated by Russell Dobular. If it all seems too terrifying to decide between the options, we recommend you at least check out the horror anthology series The Blood Brothers Present…Freaks From the Morgue. June 9-July 3. The Kraine Theater, 85 E. 4th St. (betw. 2nd & 3rd Aves.), www. endtimesproductions.org; $20.
Ice Factory Festival
The Ohio Theatre may have lost its Soho lease (and is set to open anew in the West Village), but Soho Think Tank’s Obie Award-winning Ice Factory Festival—now in its 18th year—won’t be stopped. One of the most exciting annual theater events has transplanted this season to 3LD in the Financial District, and features six New York premieres over six weeks, including the English-language premiere of Vaclav Havel’s The Pig. June 22–July 30, 3LD Art & Technology Center, 80 Greenwich St. (at Rector St.),www.sohothinktank.org; Wed.- Sat., 7, $12–$18.
Celebrity Autobiography: Gay Pride Edition
Even if you’re not waving a freak flag or have put your LUG days long behind you, the lineup for this Celebrity Autobiography edition will satisfy anyone looking for a taste of personal stories from the pros. Those slated to read so far include: Mario Cantone, Rachel Dratch, Gina Gershon, Sharon Gless, Kristen Johnston, Eugene Pack and Dayle Reyfel. June 25, The Gramercy Theater, 127 E. 23rd St. (at Lexington Ave.), www. spincyclenyc.com; 7:30, $25–$40.
Game Play 2011
Without Brooklyn’s The Brick hosting the Too Soon Festival this year, give its Game Play series a shot. In its third year, Game Play includes four performances—including a World of Warcraft-set "Romeoo and Julietet"—of plays sure to interest gamers and theatergoers alike. July 7–31, The Brick, 575 Metropolitan Ave. (betw. Union Ave. & Lorimer St.), Brooklyn, www.bricktheater.com.
Shakespeare in the Parking Lot
The Drilling Company’s annual counterprogramming to the Central Park celeb fest is the best rough-and-tumble free theater experience in the city. If you happen upon this municipal parking lot in the LES, don’t be spooked by the smell of melting asphalt; stick around for professional productions in the unlikeliest of locales. July 9–Aug. 15, The Municipal Parking Lot (at Ludlow & Broome Sts.), 212-877-0099; Free.
New York International Fringe Festival
What would the dog days of summer be like without the Fringe Fest? Never mind that at this point, the fest is 95 percent vanity projects that somehow get produced, and only 5 percent worthwhile shows from new writers, directors and unknown actors. It’s a New York institution now, so get ready for the 15th year of theater taking over Downtown. Aug. 12–29, various locations, www. fringenyc.org.
Lincoln Center Festival
The hottest ticket of the season? That’s Off Broadway Short Play easy: The Royal Shakespeare Company’s 44 Festival performances of five plays—As You Like It, The final 40 lineup has included up-and- Julius Caesar, King Lear, Romeo and Juliet coming playwrights that have gone on to and The Winter’s Tale—at the Park Avenue much success. The 36th annual event is Armory. But if you like your plays just as tragic bound to have a few greats as well. In fact, but more contemporary, check out Go Morita if you were to subject yourself to one fest in The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, based of short plays this year, we recommend this on Mishima’s novel. And the Druid Theatre one. July 19–24, The Lion Theater, 410 W. Company returns with Sean O’Casey’s The 42nd St. (betw. 9th & 10th Aves.), oob. Silver Tassie. Various locations & times; www. samuelfrench.com. LincolnCenterFestival.org.