Wesley Doucette is a New York based choreographer/director and dancer. His works which he produced, directed, and choreographed include The Threepenny Opera, the medieval morality play Everyman, and a silent drama production of The Rite of Spring, for which he received the award of "Outstanding Student Director" and "Best Student Choreographer" by the Kent State University faculty. He was a core company member of The Orchard Project this past summer, where he studied under and worked alongside some of the most renowned artists and theatre/dance companies in the country. Having graduated with degrees in both Theatre Studies and Art History Wesley writes as a "theatre historian" for The New York Theatre Review. He offered a discussion regarding the artistic development of the Ballet Russe from 1909-1913 at Kent State University's Performing Arts Library colloquium series. As a dancer, Wesley has performed in multiple concerts and has a professional background in a variety of dance techniques including tap, butoh, acrobatics, ballet, and modern. He is also a portrait artist and photographer. Please visit his websitewww.wesleydoucette.com.
Idealism and introspection commingle in Motherstruck, Staceyann Chin’s one-person performance at Lynn Redgrave Theater. Beginning with her time in Jamaica and continuing to her present condition on the stage, Chin shows us the invention of her life’s journey. Chin’s uncompromising adherence to her artistic ambitions and passionately biased accounts of intimate relationships, create a rare cathartic joy for the tenacity of the beleaguered.
Infinite Variety Productions’ focus is to tell the forgotten stories of women throughout history. Their first original piece, Insignificant, written by Sean Michael Welch, makes good on this promise. The play, a mix of “Good Will Hunting,” and Brecht’s “Galileo,” presents two such histories. The first is that of Cecilia (Deanna McGovern), a twenty five-year old doctorate student at Harvard who is planning to deny her findings regarding the elemental makeup of the sun at the end of her dissertation. This converges with the second story, that of Annie (Kathleen O’Neill), her friend and apparent mentor, who attempts to make her reconsider this decision by elaborating on her history in the astronomy field with a group of women.
Upon entry into Esperance Theater Company’s Twelfth Night I was concerned. Beleaguered by tinker-toy productions of Shakespeare where frivolity and hipness appear to be virtues, I began to notice the tell-tale signs of such affectations. Acoustic instruments, though thankfully omitting the overused ukulele, wait center stage. The cast enters and begins to mingle playfully with the audience. Then, the performance begins with a folk composition of Shakespeare’s lyrics staged in near direct imitation of Once. Then Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night truly began. Immediately all self-congratulatory theatrics were smothered away leaving Shakespeare’s play to breathe in a timeless and lovingly crafted air.
The experiment is the fourth step of the scientific method. It is proceeded by a question, research, and hypothesis. The artistic experiments of Elevator Repair Service, a theatre company that has been a staple of New York's downtown theatre scene for nearly 25 years, have been cultivated by such a method. Arguendo, The Sound and the Fury, and Gatz have groundings in tangible theory, which draw fascinating and surprising conclusions. Fondly, Collette Richland, the company's first original play, written by Sibyl Kempson, doesn't so much experiment as it does dismantle, rendering their signature affectlessness effect-less.
Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus combines the finest of medieval and Shakespearian theatre. Classic Stage Company's Doctor Faustus, as directed by Andrei Belgrader, abandons both poetic ambition and archetypal simplicity, in favor of an accessible reading of the play. As is often the case with productions which renounce Elizabethan transcendence as little more than Renaissance pretension, this Faustus swiftly deteriorates into dull pandering.
For the fifth year The Meeting, Justin Sayre's monthly cabaret performance, moves uptown to The Kaufmann Center for Pride Month in honor of Judy Garland. This special two act concert raises support of the Ali Forney Center, a charity organization which aids homeless LGBT youth. Taking some of Joe's Pub's finest performers with him, the evening is propelled by a very different ambiance than the downtown cabaret. While on his soap box in Joe's Pub, Sayre infuses the audience with outrage, at this concert he appeals to compassion. The performance follows the structure of The Meeting, with a set list of featured vocalists, a self-professed "middle-school theatric" staged reading, and an eleventh hour tirade by the host.
Cynthia von Buhler's Speakeasy Dollhouse's series continues with its goal for photorealistic immersive social events with Ziegfeld Midnight Frolic. Having enjoyed the Players Club performance of The Brothers Booth, I was excited for another intricate and spontaneous event. Ziegfeld Midnight Frolic took multiple steps forward in ambition from that downtown iteration. However, in this progress of ambition the events guiding framework sadly slips through the cracks.
While its title is lewd to the point of humor, Tis A Pity She's A Whore, now in performance at The Duke on 42nd Street by the Red Bull Theatre Company, is a richly sincere classical tragedy. The play, by John Ford and directed by Jesse Berger, follows the love affair of siblings Giovanni and Annabella. They swear a secret pact of fidelity, which is quickly tested by a number of Annabella's suitors. These suitors include Bergetto, a fop who is murdered by a second suitor, the hot tempered Roman Grimaldi. The third suitor, Soranzo is a schemer, though his advances on Annabella do ring with sincerity.
The poster for New World Stages' Clinton The Musical leaves very little to the imagination. With self-aware mania it features every expected touch of a Clinton presidency satire. While these satirical statements are uninspired in the musical, a warm clowning farce succeeds and surprises.
A performer must have more than a little audacity to create a one person show, much less to write the piece itself, and further more to make the subject an iconic figure. Thankfully, given the topic of the performance at hand, such audacity doesn't only seem fitting, but necessary for an accurate portrayal. Churchill, performed and adapted by Ronald Keaton and directed by Kurt Johns, now in performance at New World Stages, is a magnificent look at history through the eyes of one of the men who crafted it.