Monday, January 14, 2019

LABUTE New Theater Festival: Review By Polly Guerin

There is never any want for entertainment in New York City and theater is the kingpin of events when the St. Louis Actors' Studio's (William Roth, Artistic Director) LABUTE New Theater Festival returns to New York with three premiere one-act play by celebrated Tony Award nominated, playwright, director, Neil LaBute.  Performances running through Jan 27th take place
at the Davenport Theater, at 354 West 45th St. This is as good as it gets, or rather better than expected in off-Broadway theater productions. Tickets can be purchased by visiting Telecharge.com or by calling 212.239.6200. 
      St. Louis Actor's Studio artistic director, William Roth comments: "We are proud of our
relationship with Neil and to bring these new plays to New York City as part of The LaBute New
Theater Festival. We are thrilled to bring this festival to the Davenport Theater and we are excited to have audiences experience this festival."
Gia Crovatin
ENDORSING ACTORS Neil LaBute: "I'm very excited to be working with William Roth and St. Louis Actors' Studio on our fourth incarnation of 'The LaBute New Theater Festival' in New York City. Together we have created a wonderful venue for a variety of artists to see their work performed in full productions in front of paying audiences--along with an important program that caters to high school authors as well."  
        In the world premiere play, directed by Neil LaBute, UNLIKELY JAPAN, starring actor, GIA CROVATIN, a young woman spots an old flame on television and in a mesmerizing monologue recounts how a single choice can alter the course of multiple lives.  Her delivery reminds us of the "what if" factor in life as she regales us with the different possibilities and scenarios. Ms. Crovatin has appeared on TV: "One Dollar,"  "Billions"  and the film Dirty Weekend among other venues and brings to the stage a compelling persona. (PHOTO: All photos in this article Courtesy of Russ Rowland)
       In the play world premiere play, GREAT NEGRO WORKS OF ART, directed by John Pierson, Brenda Meaney (Roundabout's "Indian Ink," Mint Theatre's "The New Morality") engages in conversation with  Keilyn Durrel (TV: "Better Call Saul," "Shades of Blue," 'High Maintenance") in a witty, sometimes combative conversation that changes its meaning, metamorphosing from cool to hot drama. 
        GREAT NEGRO WORKS OF ART follows a meeting between and under-celebrated artist and his gallery manager. They seemingly appear to be engaging in a 'first date,' episode but they soon segue into a forceful debate on race, culture and what is and what is not "ART" today.  Even the sign Great Negro Works of Art is challenged as to the placement of the words---should they read Great Negro Art or Great Works by Negro Artists.  Their combative ending 
Brenda Meaney and Keilyn Durrell Jones
is worth further contemplation. 

      THE FOURTH REICH (New York City Premiere, also directed by John Pierson, stars
Eric Dean White (TV: "Chicago Fire," and
"Blackbookberry") This performance focuses on a monologue by a public speaker  as he presents and pontificates on his unique views on modern history, thoughts about the future and alas ruminations on his favorite artist. Does one really care about what the character has to say? I wondered! However, his portrayal of a self-appointed, opinionated individual does give us cause to pay close attention to his comments and perhaps conclude with our own. 
      THE LABUTE NEW FESTIVAL provides another reason to get out of the cold and enter the experience of theater with warm-hearted actors who know the drill and give us very interesting performances which run on Wednesday to Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 2pm and Sunday at 3pm.   Added performances tonight Monday, January 14 at 7PM, Wednesday, January 16 at 2pm and Tuesday January 22 at 7pm. For ticket information contact Telecharge or call the Davenport Theater at 212.956. 0948. 
       
Eric Dean White 
  Ta Ta Darlings!!!   I just spent a delightful Sunday afternoon at the Davenport, and hope that you will, too.  Fan mail welcome: pollytalknyc@gmail.com. Visit Polly's Blogs www.pollytalk.com and in the left hand column click on the Blog that resonates with your interest on visionary men, women determined to succeed, fashion historian or poetry from the heart.

       Aspiring playwrights may be interested in the following information on the SUBMISSION PROCESS for the St. Louis Actor's Studio LaBute New Theater Festival.                         Professional Submissions and High School Submissions should be sent to: LaBute New Theater Festival, St. Louis Actors' Studio, 360 N. Boyle Ave., St. Louis, MO 63108. 
      For more information contact: 314-458-2978 or 
help@stlas.org.
       

Monday, January 7, 2019

POSING MODERNITY LECTURE at Art Students League January 15

Denise Murrel "Posing Modernity: Curator/Lecturer     
THIS JUST IN: Not to be missed!!! A groundbreaking lecture and discussion on "POSING MODERNITY: THE BLACK MODEL FROM MANET TO MATISSE TO TODAY will be presented by curator/lecturer, DENISE MURREL, at The Phyllis Harriman Mason Gallery, 2nd floor, at the Art Students League of New York, 215 West 57th Street, Tuesday, January 15th, 6:30-8 pm. Free and Open to the Public.
      The con-currently running  exhibition, POSING MODERNITY, at Columbia University's Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, on view through February 20, deconstructs race in western painting and you can hear all about it from the curator herself, at this special discussion at the Art Students League. The exhibition's incarnation is quite interesting.                 Not every student of art history could become the inspiration for an art exhibition, but one such student, Denise Murrel's Thesis indeed inspired the Wallach Art Gallery's POSING MODERNITY exhibition at Columbia University. This awe-inspiring investigative show focuses on a seemingly neglected subject; "How Black people have been pictured across art history."       
         
William H. Johnson portrait
It all came about when 
inquisitive Columbia University student, Denise Murrel viewed Edouard Manet's Olympia, his brazenly un-idealized take on the odalisque theme. In his rendering a black maidservant is bringing a bouquet of flowers to a naked prostitute who stares directly out at the viewer. What struck Ms. Murrel most about the art instructors discourse was the absence of any reference to the black maidservant. She said, "His neglect to ignore her, to say nothing about her, to not knowledge her presence rendered her invisible."  Image right: William H. Johnson, "Portrait of a Woman with Blue and White Striped Blouse." 1940-42,
      This experience motivated Murrel to find out more about the black figure as portrayed in art. So she embarked on a journey that began was a seminar paper, expanded into her PhD thesis that segued into the exhibition, POSING MODERNITY, at the Wallach Art Gallery, which will be expanded at the Musee d'Orsay in Paris next year.   The exhibition explores the little-known interactions between avant-garde artists in the 19th century Paris and the city's post-abolition community of free black people. Archival
photographs, correspondence, and films shed light on artists' relationships with their models, students, entertainers, and others. HARLEM IN THE 1930's: Includes paintings and  
 prints executed by Henri Matisse before and after his visits to Harlem in the 1930s, portraiture of the Harlem Renaissance; and the influence of these earlier depictions on artists of the post-war period and beyond. Bazille, Nadar, Carpeaux, Bearden, and Ringgold are just a few of he names featured. 
Image: Edouard Manet's Baudelaire's Mistress (Portrait of Jeanne Duval) from 1862 is part of the "Posing Modernity" exhibition, Photo: Csanad Szeszlay(c) The Museum of Fine Art Budapest/Scala/Art Resource NY.
    
Ta Ta Darlings!!!  I hope this review tantalizes your interest. Attend the lecture on January 15 to hear how the curator/lecturer, Denise Murrel, brought about Posing Modernity to give 'black women in paintings' their due recognition. Fan mail welcome at pollytalk@gmail.com. Visit Polly's Blogs at www.pollytalk.com and click in the right-hand column for the subject that resonates with your interest on fashion, visionary men, women determined to succeed and poetry from the heart.