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inside news about Asians and women on stage


IMMIGRANTS’ THEATRE: The Immigrants’ Theatre Project, Australian Aboriginal Theatre Initiative, and Playbox Theatre of Melbourne, Australia has kicked off the New Indigenous Voices From Australia, the first series of Aboriginal plays ever to be presented in America. On Tuesday, April 20, 7:30PM, “Box The Pony,” by Scott Rankin & Leah Purcell (Goa-Gunggari-Wakka Wakka) will be presented at New Group Theatre, (410 West 42nd Street). “The Pony” is Leah Purcell's critically acclaimed one-woman show about growing up in a champion boxing family on the outskirts of an Aboriginal Mission. Admission is free with a suggested donation of $5.00. For more information or to make reservations, please call: 212-533-0889 or email immigrantstheat@aol.com

Leah Purcell comes from a long line of Vaudevillians and her first professional break came in 1993 when she was cast in Bran Nue Day, which toured Australia. This was followed by more theatre productions and then in 1995 Purcell moved to Sydney to become the first presenter of RED on Galaxy TV. A role in the main cast of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Police Rescue followed her television presenting work and in 1997 Purcell was nominated for her performance in an episode of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Fallen Angels. After these series Purcell moved on to the most ambitious project of her career, “Box The Pony,” a semi factual account of her life.

Purcell conceived, wrote and directed “Box The Pony” which was the smash hit of the 1997 Olympic Arts Festival's Festival of the Dreaming and was critically acclaimed at the 1998 Adelaide Festival, Melbourne Festival of the Arts and the 1999 Edinburgh Arts Festival. Box The Pony performed to capacity houses in a return season in September 1999 at the Belvoir Street Theatre in Sydney, and then at the Sydney Opera House as part of the Reconciliation Celebrations in June 2000. Leah’s independent film, Black Chicks Talking, had its 2002 world premiere at Robert De Niro's Tribeca Film Festival.

Other plays to be presented in the New Indigenous Voices from Australia include:
Tuesday, May 4 at 7:30pm: Stolen written by Jane Harrison (Muruwari) with Kylie Belling (Yorta Yorta) - directed by Karen Oughtred. Venue: Drama Bookshop (250 West 40th Street) Stolen is a portrayal of Aboriginal children forcibly removed from their families by the government and raised in a repressive children's home.

Tuesday, May 18 at 1:00pm: Conversations with the Dead written by Richard Frankland (Gunditjmara) with Aaron Pederson (Aboriginal) - directed by Muriel Miguel (Kuna/Rappahannock). Venue: The United Nations. This play was written as a response to an investigation of deaths in custody of indigenous prisoners in the Australian penal system, which involved Mr. Frankland. This reading is part of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues taking place May 10th through the 21st, 2004. Reservations necessary for admission: 212-533-0889

The events are being hosted by The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian (One Bowling Green), American Indian Community House (708 Broadway, 8th floor), New Dramatists (424 W. 44th Street), The New Group Theatre (410 W. 42nd Street), the Drama Bookshop (250 W. 40th St) and the United Nations. Admission is free with a suggested donation of $5.00. For more information or to make reservations, please call: 212-533-0889 or email immigrantstheat@aol.com

All readings will have a post-show discussion with Native American and Aboriginal experts, the playwright, Australian actor, and director on the issues raised by the play. Speakers will include: John Scott (Iningai), Fiona Foley (Badtjala/Fraser Island), Jason Turner (Wampanoag), Hortensia and Vera Colorado (Chichimecotomi), George Stonefish (Delaware/Chippewa) and Joe Cross (Caddo).

Both the state of Victoria and the federal government of Australia are sponsoring the American trip of the Aboriginal playwright and actor for each reading. The goal of this series is to expose mainstream and academic theatre audiences to Aboriginal culture and to create an ongoing artistic and international exchange between indigenous Australian and American theatre artists.

The Obie award winning Immigrants' Theatre Project (ITP) presents traditional and experimental plays by and about immigrants to the United States. Founded in 1988 by Artistic Director Marcy Arlin, ITP works with immigrant and native-born professional artists from over 50 countries and ethnic groups. ITP recently presented Journey Theatre, the culmination of an 8-month workshop with victims of 9/11, war trauma, and torture. ITP works with the Theatre Institute in Prague presenting Czech plays in Translation (2004 at the Public Theatre) and has presented plays at LaMama, HERE, Vineyard Theatre and Tenement Theatre. ITP artists have won many prestigious awards such as the Van Lier Playwrighting Awards, Bunting Fellowship, Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays, NEA/TCG Directors/Designer Grants and a 2003 Obie.

Established and emerging Australian Aboriginal commits the Australian Aboriginal Theatre Initiative (AATI), founded in New York in 2003 by Artistic Director Karen Oughtred, playwrights. AATI's focus is to offer opportunities to talented Native American actors to work with professional Aboriginal artists and foster the international exchange of cross cultural and intercultural information.

This is the first international exchange between Playbox Theatre and New York-based companies. Since its foundation in 1976, Playbox Theatre of Melbourne, Australia has been dedicated to the development, production and promotion of progressive drama, which reflects Australian diversity and traditions. The company tours regionally and internationally with productions of new Australian plays. Their partnering with the Ilbijerri Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Theatre Cooperative has fostered the growth of talented indigenous artists and has been instrumental in the presentation of new Aboriginal work both within Australia and overseas.

Other plays presented during the Festival include “Crowfire” written by Jadah Milroy (Palku) with Bryan Andy (Yorta Yorta) - directed by Kaipo Schwab (Native Hawaiian descent) at the American Indian Community House. “Crowfire” is about an indigenous social worker and how the urban environment has played havoc with culture and identity. And “Yanagai! Yanagai!” Written by Andrea James (Yorta Yorta) with Louise Bennett (Yorta Yorta) - directed by Marcy Arlin at New Dramatists, (424 West 44th Street). “Yanagai! Yanagai!” Through the Dreaming portrays the Yorta Yorta’s struggle for land rights for their people.

Photo of Nicky Paraiso by Dona Ann McAdams

HOUSE/BOY: The "Asian Boys" trilogy that Nicky Paraiso began at P.S. 122 in 1994 will be completed ten years later at La MaMa, where Paraiso is now Cultural Minister of the second-floor Club. "House/Boy," to be presented April 22 to May 9, is Paraiso's third autobiographical evening-length solo work with music and multimedia, dealing with identity, sexuality and the enduring theme of what "home" means to Filipino Americans. Ralph B. Peña, Artistic Director of Ma-Yi Theater Company, will direct. For tickets call 212-475-7710 or visit www.lamama.org.

The predecessors of "House/Boy" were "Asian Boys" (P.S. 122, 1994, co-produced by Ma-Yi Theatre Ensemble) and "Houses and Jewels" (1994, DTW). Both were stories of growing up gay and Filipino in the borough of Queens, where Filipino Americans, like many other Asians, tend to see themselves as strangers in a strange land. "Houses and Jewels" was about his mother's house in the Philippines, where she grew up with her five sisters. (He now calls it "a Filipino version of 'The House of Bernarda Alba.'") Now the focus shifts to his father and to that peculiarly Filipino male prototype, the houseboy. Partly, it is dedicated to his father, who died in the family house in Queens in 1987. It contains some unfinished business, because Nicky never did sing for his father while the elder was alive.

Nicky's parents, Nicasio and Agustina, had known each other in the Philippines, but Nicasio had moved to the U.S. in his twenties. Here he married an Irish-American woman and settled in the Bronx; they had a son, Michael, to whom the show is also dedicated (Nicky hardly knew him). The marriage broke up and Nicasio returned to the Philippines to find a suitable wife, this time someone Philippine-born. He was reunited with Agustina, who was the last of her sisters to wed and was already known as a spinster. When Nicky was in his thirties, in '83, she was homesick and returned to the Philippines without her husband. To Nicasio, a Pullman porter on the New Haven Railroad, the house in Queens was home. He was its caretaker and he was waiting for Nicky to take it over (an ideal he shared with Agustina, interestingly enough). But all Nicky wanted, like others of his generation, was to get out of Queens. Children of first generation immigrants are the borough's largest export. Nicky wanted to become a Manhattan artiste.

After Nicasio died in Christmas of 1987, Nicky brought his elder's ashes back to the Philippines. His mother was living there with a houseboy, and this is where "I Never Sang for My Father" gets entwined with another theme. The houseboy, named Efran Martinez, was tall, lanky, flamboyantly gay and effeminate; "the stereotypical effeminate houseboy," says Nicky. When Nicky visited in '83 and '85, it was as if the son was actually intruding on the private world of a houseboy and his mistress. One night, Efran endured a frightening nightmare (in Philippine myth, there is a nightmare in which a spirit appears and takes your soul away). The next morning, Agustina found her brother-in-law's gold watch missing. The houseboy, accused of stealing, left in a huff and was never heard from again.

Efran's persona happened to echo Nicky's search for Filipino role models in the media, where there were two prime examples. One is Patrick Adiarte, a child actor who played the prince in "The King and I." In tribute, Paraiso will act the final scene of the musical, playing all three parts: Yul Brynner's, Deborah Kerr's and Patrick Adiarte's. The other prototype is Zorro David, who played the houseboy Anacleto in the film, "Reflections in a Golden Eye" (1967), directed by John Huston and based on Carson McCullers' novel (with Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor, Julie Harris and Brian Keith). In tribute, Paraiso will perform "Anacleto's Ballet," based on a dance the character performs for his mistress (played by Julie Harris) in the film.

Nicky Paraiso was a member of Meredith Monk/The House and Vocal Ensemble (1981-1990), touring extensively throughout the US, Europe and Japan. He has also worked with Jeff Weiss and Carlos Ricardo Martinez since 1979 and was an actor and musical director in "Come Clean" and the Obie-winning "Hot Keys." He is also affiliated with Yoshiko Chuma and the School of Hard Knocks, with whom he has appeared in four major productions since 1988. He is also a frequent performer with Ma-Yi Theatre/NATCO. Paraiso's awards include a 1987 Bessie and a NYSCA Performance Art Initiative Grant. He was nominated for the prestigious Cal Arts/Alpert Award in 1998. His films include "Book of Days," "Fresh Kill" and "Jeffrey."

LEE’S THE APPEAL: Young Jean Lee's irreverent new play “The Appeal,” a historically inaccurate look at English Romantics poets, at Soho Rep at 46 Walker Street will begin previews start April 7. Written and directed by Lee, “The Appeal” glimpses the imagined private lives of Byron, Coleridge, William Wordsworth, and Dorothy Wordsworth as they get drunk, hang out and commiserate in England and the Swiss Alps. “The Appeal” runs through May 2. For tickets, call Smarttix at 212-868-4444 or visit www.smarttix.com. For additional details, please visit www.sohorep.org.

“The Appeal” includes new music from electronic duo Matmos, and costars Michael Portnoy ("Soy Bomb") as Coleridge; Blue Man Group's Pete Simpson as William Wordsworth; Radiohole's Maggie Hoffman as Dorothy Wordsworth; and The National Theater of the United States of America's James Stanley as Byron.

Lee most recently wrote and directed GROUNDWORK OF THE METAPHYSIC OF MORALS at the Ontological-Hysteric Theater, which played to sold-out audiences and received praise from Richard Foreman, Richard Maxwell, and Mac Wellman. She also costarred in The National Theater of the United States of America's WHAT'S THAT ON MY HEAD!?! at DUMBO's Nest Arts Complex. She will direct her next play PULLMAN, WA at PS 122 in March 2005.

Matmos (Drew Daniel and Martin Schmidt) have toured worldwide with Bjork and released CDs including "The Civil War," "California Rhinoplasty" and "Wide Open Spaces," among others. THE APPEAL is their first score for theatre.

Maggie Hoffman is best known for her work with performance troupe RADIOHOLE, including RADIOHOLE IS STILL MY NAME and WURST. Performance artist Michael Portnoy stunned audiences during the 1998 Grammy Awards with an impromptu, shirtless appearance (with "Soy Bomb" written on his bare chest) alongside musical legend Bob Dylan. As an actor, dancer and installation artist, Portnoy has worked at PS 122, Movement Research at the Judson Church, HERE, The Knitting Factory, Dance Theatre Workshop, and Joyce Soho, among other venues.

Pete Simpson has performed with BLUE MAN GROUP in New York and Boston. Simpson's other theater credits include Richard Maxwell's COWBOYS AND INDIANS at Soho Rep, Richard Foreman's PARADISE HOTEL, and the Wooster Group's NORTH ATLANTIC (with Willem Dafoe). James Stanley is a founding member of the National Theater of the United States of America. Stanley's acting credits include roles in Hal Hartley's SOON; Richard Maxwell's BURGER KING and A-1 ROLLING STEAKHOUSE; Darko Tresnjak's PRINCESS TURANDOT.

SEX IN OTHER PEOPLE'S HOUSES: The Lark Theatre Company will present the debut of “Sex in Other People’s Houses” from April 23 to May 2 at the Lark Theatre (939 8th Ave.) in Manhattan. Written by Sonia Pabley and directed by Ashok Sinah, “Sex in Other People’s Houses” concerns two young South Asian couples who discover that marriage can be a hindrance to good sex, at least when it's with their own spouse. Writers of South Asian decent have developed “Sex in Other People’s Houses” as part of the Lark’s 3-year program to present new plays. Ms. Pabley's play is produced under the auspices of the Lark's BareBones® 2003-2004 season. A discussion with the author will follow the
Mon., May 3rd performance. For ticket, call Theatermania at 212-352-3101 or visit www.theatermania.com. For more information, call 212-246-2676 or visit www.larktheatre.org.

Sonia Pabley grew up in Massachusetts and now lives in New York City. She studied as an undergraduate at Columbia University and works in publishing and theatre/film as a literary agent. “Sex in Other People’s Houses” is her first full-length play.

“Sex in Other People’s Houses” is the first play to reach a BareBones® presentation that has emerged from the Lark's three year initiative to find new writers in the South Asian community. The play was first presented as a reading by The Lark and the Indo-American Arts Council in the third annual South Asian Diaspora Playwrights' Festival in November 2003.

Director, Ashok Sinha, recently directed the New York premiere of Tom Stoppard's INDIA INK for Alter Ego Productions. Cast members are Rizwan Manji, Sunita Param, Nandita Shenoy and Samir Younis. Christine Lemme will be the Stage Manager.

BareBones® Presentations are the hallmark of The Lark Theatre Company. These productions are fully staged, and provide the playwright and cast with a full rehearsal period - but, as the name implies, shows are presented in a "barebones" fashion. With low-ticket prices and limited attention paid to physical production, the focus can be placed on building the strengths of the unadorned text. This benefits the playwright and the play, but also allows the public a rare glimpse at a play's developmental process, which The Lark Theatre Company has made its mission to support and cultivate.

BRITS OFF BROADWAY: Off-Broadway’s newest destination, 59E59 Theaters, is proud to present “Brits Off Broadway”, the first annual dramafest of the best that British theater has to offer…new faces, new writing, new talent, new work from artists new to New York. The dramafest kicks off with “My Arm” on April 7, written by and starring Tim Crouch, (Theater C) at 59E59 Theaters, 59 East 59th Street. “Sun is Shining”, by the British-Chinese Mu Lan Theatre Company, is scheduled to perform. Tickets for “Brits Off Broadway”, which runs from April 7th- July 4th, can be purchased by calling Ticket Central at 212-279-4200, visiting their website www.ticketcentral.com and in person at the 59E59 Box Office or visit www.59E59.org.

The First Annual “Brits Off Broadway” will feature the following selections/artists :

“My Arm”, written by and starring Tim Crouch, was a surprise hit at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The Daily Telegraph called it, “…oddly compelling…curiously hypnotic. The use of home-movie footage is almost unbearably touching. Creeping up on your emotions, the show becomes an elegy for lost childhood, while deconstructing the ways we mythologize our past.” In MY ARM, a boy tests his will and the patience of his parents by raising one of his arms above his head and keeping it there for 30 years. Mr. Crouch says, “This performance is partly about giving ordinary things extraordinary
significance.” (Theater C, April 6- 25).

“Sun is Shining”, by the ground-breaking British-Chinese Mu Lan Theatre Company, sets out to shatter Asian stereotypes. Written and directed by Matt Wilkinson, SUN IS SHINING is a darkly comic story of a love affair between a mixed raced city trader and a recovering alcoholic Scottish artist. It was called “effortlessly enjoyable” by The Guardian. (Theater B, April 20-May 9).

“The Woman Destroyed,” translated by and starring Diana Quick, is a modern re-telling of Simone de Beauvoir’s heart wrenching tale of the betrayal and self-pity one woman feels on New Years Eve in her London flat. (Theater C, April 27-May 16). “Heavenly,” presented by the internationally acclaimed British theater company Frantic Assembly, is a show that ponders 59 things you need never do again when you are dead. The company is renowned for attracting new and young audiences to the theater. The Times of London says, “Frantic Assembly have their fingers on the collective pulse of a generation.” (Theater B, May 11-30).

“Cooking For Kings”, starring acclaimed actor and writer, Ian Kelly, is directed by Simon Green and based on Kelly’s best-selling biography. “Cooking For Kings” is a solo show based on the life of Antonin Careme, the first celebrity chef, and follows his rise to become a chef for Napoleon, the Prince Regent, Tsar Alexander I and others. (Theater C, May 18-June 6). “Absolutely Fascinating,” presented by Britain’s glorious trio, Fascinating Aida, is a satirical musical comedy. They bring their new show to New York, direct from their sold-out season at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, a record-breaking UK Tour and a hit season at the Comedy Theater in London’s West End for which they were nominated (for the third time) for the Best Entertainment Olivier Award. The London Daily Mail states, “see them before you die otherwise your life will have been meaningless!” (Theater A, May 20-June 13) .

“Ghost City”, presented by Wales’ Sgript Cymru, is the fourth hit written by Gary Owen and directed by Simon Harris. (Theater B, June 1-June 13th). “Berkoff’s Women,” which plays in repertory with “No Fear!”, both star Linda Marlowe, “the great unsung actress of the British stage. (Theater C June 8-July 4). “Hurricane,” presented by Ransom Productions, Belfast Northern Ireland’s newest theater company, stars the author, Richard Dormer and is directed by Rachel O’Riordan. (Theater B, June 15- July 4). “The Straits,” presented by Paines Plough, Britain’s leading theatre for new work, is new Scottish writer Gregory Burke’s second play. (Theater A, June 15-July 4).

Photo of Maureen Fleming by Lois Greenfield

DECAY OF THE ANGEL: "Decay of the Angel" combines Butoh, Ikebana and multimedia in a seamless choreographic work of sculptural transcendence will be presented at La MaMa E.T.C. (Annex Theater), 74A East Fourth Street, April 1-11. For tickets, call 212-475-7710 or visit www.lamama.org.

"Decay of the Angel" is a lyrical sculptural transcendence inspired by Butoh. In it, dancer/choreographer Maureen Fleming invents surreal movement poetry, curving her body into shapes of shattering beauty. Loosely based on the myth of Hagoromo, as told in an ancient Japanese play, the piece incorporates contemporary Ikebana (the Japanese art of flower arrangement) by Japanese artist Gaho Taniguchi, light and visual design by Chris Odo, and film and images by award-winning dance photographer Lois Greenfield. Music by Philip Glass is performed by a live pianist.

Crossing art forms and cultures, "Decay of the Angel" fuses elements of the Buddha's sutra teaching on the five stages of the decay of heavenly beings with the ancient Japanese tale Hagoromo. This myth tells of a fisherman who discovers the cloth of an angel's wings caught in a branch. When the angel pleads with the fisherman to return the cloth, he agrees, but only if she will perform a celestial dance. Presented in five parts, the performance opens with Fleming suspended at the top of the theater, creating the impression of a colorful mobile that is tumbling and circling downward. Using the idea of the angel and the fisherman being inside the same person, "Decay of the Angel" is a reflection on our loss of wings both personally and as a culture. The piece asks, "what is the celestial dance we must all discover to regain our own wings?"

Maureen Fleming is a resident artist of La MaMa E.T.C.; her past productions there include "Water on the Moon" (1989), "Eros" (1991) and "Sphere" (1993). She brings the discipline of a classicist and the imagination of an iconoclast to her unique style of movement inspired by her studies with Kazuo Ohno, the co-founder of Butoh. Fleming went on to perform with his son, Yoshito Ohno, and to tour internationally with performance artist and choreographer Min Tanaka. Fleming continued her training in the US under the Cecchetti master Margaret Craske. Since 1994, she has conducted annual workshops at N.Y.U. and was recently a guest artist at Juilliard. She has gained international recognition on five continents for her singular form of multimedia performance such venues as Italy's Spoleto Festivals, Japan's Butoh Festival, Mexico's Jose Limon Dance Festival, Iceland's Reykjavik Arts Festival, Columbia's International Danza Contemporanea, France's International Mime Festival and Korea's Seoul Performing Arts Festival, among others.

Born in Japan to American parents, the effects of a severe accident when Fleming was two years old have influenced her approach to movement. The accident left a bone spur and the loss of the disk between her 4th and 5th vertebrae, a condition that would confine most people to a wheelchair. Her distinctive slow-motion style of twisting the body into extreme positions, where the blood builds up and stops, and then slowly untwisting so the blood flows more quickly, creates a kind of cleansing. With a strong belief in the body's regenerative powers, Fleming explores the evolution of her wounds. Her choreography emphasizes aligning the body's spiritual center while using the female body as a symbol for the earth's cycles of regeneration.

TOO MUCH LIGHT: The internationally renowned Neo-Futurists, in co-production with the Brooklyn Lyceum, bring the longest running original show in Chicago history to Brooklyn for an open-ended run! A new cast of New York Neo-Futurists will write, direct, and perform this innovative late-night performance every Friday and Saturday at 11:30pm, 50 weeks a year, beginning April. “Too Much Light,” with its ever-changing "menu" of plays is an attempt to perform 30 plays in 60 minutes. All Performances will be at the Brooklyn Lyceum227 4th Ave. The New York Ensemble for ‘Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind” includes Katrina Toshiko, Desiree Burch, Michael Cyril Creighton, Rob Neill, Justin Tolley, Lindsay Brandon Hunter, Chris Dippel, Sarah Levy, Regie Cabico, and Molly Flynn. For tickets, call the Neo-Futurist Brooklyn Hotline at 718-0670-7234 or visit www.gowanus.com. More information on the Neo-Futurists is available at: www.neofuturists.org

WHERE DO WE LIVE: Christopher Shinn's “Where Do We Live” receives its American premiere at Vineyard Theatre (108 East 15th Street), with Off-Broadway previews beginning April 21 prior to an official opening May 9. “Where Do We Live” follows the intersecting lives of two young men, one African American and one white, who are neighbors in a lower East Side apartment building. Shinn's play -- set against a panoramic view of New York -- looks at these men and their young, gifted friends as they grapple with the chaotic modern-world in which we live. Directed by Shinn, “Where Do We Live” features an ensemble cast of young talent from film and theatre: Jessica Chastain, Daryl Edwards, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Luke MacFarlane, Burl Moseley, Jacob Pitts, Aaron Stanford, Liz Stauber and Aaron Yoo. For tickets, call the Vineyard Theatre box office at 212-353-0303 or visit www.vineyardtheatre.org.

SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL: The Queens Company, the only classical theater company in the US devoted to presenting all-female productions, will present Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s 1777 comedy “School for Scandal” beginning April 24th at The Connelly Theatre at 220 East 4th Street. Rebecca Patterson directs this delicious comedy of city folks behaving badly. Opening night is scheduled for Monday, April 26, 7:30PM.. In “School for Scandal” brothers Joseph and Charles vie for the hand of the same girl with hilarious results. The cast of devious and unscrupulous characters includes such members of the leisure class as the appropriately named Lady Sneerwell, Mr. Snake, Sir Benjamin Backbite, Mrs. Candour, and Mr. Surface -- individuals bent on undermining the most refined reputations with innuendoes and ingenious fabrications. In this hysterical look at the human propensity to gossip, love is lost and gained, honor ruined and revived as sharp wits target their heart’s desire. Ultimately, the message is clear: a tongue is a terrible thing to waste. The production stars Lauren Jill Ahrold, Virginia Baeta, Cynthia Brown, Eliza Ladd, Valentina McKenzie, Maureen Porter, Shanti Elise Prasad, Gisele Richardson, Ami Shukla and DeeAnn Weir with costumes by Sarah Iams, lighting by Aaron Copp, and set design by Jeremy Woodward. For reservations call 212-868-4444 or visit www.smarttix.com.

According to director Rebecca Patterson, School For Scandal seems especially appropriate for an election year. “Many skeletons are being tucked away in closets only to be flushed out and publicly paraded by eager gossipmongers,” she explains. “The behavior that is expected of us publicly is often at odds with our true desires -- just ask Bill Clinton. The impact of public opinion is seen daily. Which paper do you buy? The one with the Gossip, of course!”

With a motto of “All female! All the time! No apologies!”, The Queens Company was founded in 2000 by Rebecca Patterson, DeeAnn Weir and Virginia Baeta. Inspired by Ariane Mnouchkine’s Theatre du Soleil, Polly Teale’s Shared Experience and Simon McBurney’s Theatre de Complicite, The Queens Company presents classical works in productions that cross the boundaries of gender, race and sexual orientation. Past productions include Antony and Cleopatra, Macbeth, The Duchess of Malfi and The Feign’d Courtesans. They have presented works at venues including Mint Space, Urban Stages, HERE and Tribeca Playhouse. The New Yorker called their recent production of Much Ado About Nothing, “fun and frivolous... it’s a charming evening: the actresses understand Shakespeare’s language and adroitly put across his jokes, and the director, Rebecca Patterson, insures that there is a great deal of physical humour.”

PRIDE’S CROSSING: “Pride’s Crossing,” a memory play by Tina Howe, directed by Glenn Krutoff, runs through Sunday, April 18t at the T. Schreiber Studio 151 W 26th Street, 7th Floor. Mabel Tidings Bigelow has been fighting to make life do what she wants it to all her life. “Pride’s Crossing” gives us the life of this indomitable nonagenarian, who in her youth was the first woman to swim the English Channel from England to France. As the play opens, the 90-year old Mabel is about to give a Fourth of July croquet party reminiscent of her parents' elegant and famous Independence Day celebrations "in the old days." Mabel wants to entertain the friends that remain to her and to honor the visit of her granddaughter and great-granddaughter who are journeying from their home in France to be with her. Although she now is reduced to living in the former chauffeur's cottage on her family estate in Pride's Crossing, Massachusetts, and has only a small and untidy backyard for the festivities, Mabel is determined to have a party in the grand old style. The cast of “Pride’s Crossing” includes Laura Martin (The Phantom of the Opera, Broadway), Jessica Milspaw (Final Placement, Love's Labour's Lost) Andrea Marshall-Money (Prelude to a Kiss, Eastern Standard, TSS), Scott Roberts (Melrose Place, General Hospital, The Merry Wives of Windsor), Sean Souza (The Gift, TSS), Jason Weiss (Everybody Loves Raymond, The Big Funk) and, as Mabel Tidings Bigelow, Tatjana Vujosevic (The Woman from the Sea, TSS). For reservations go to www.t-s-s.org, or call TheaterMania at (212) 352-3101.

THREE SECONDS IN THE KEY: New Georges, the OBIE-winning theater company founded in 1992 which produces highly theatrical new works by women will present the semi-autobiographical comic-drama “Three Seconds in the Key,” by OBIE Award-winning artist Deb Margolin, at the Baruch Performing Arts Center, 55 Lexington Avenue. The play, which Ms. Margolin has developed in collaboration with Loretta Greco, will be directed by Alexandra Aron and will run at Baruch from April 12 through May 8. Though based on the playwright’s real-life battle with Hodgkin’s disease, “Three Seconds in the Key” is funny, fearless and fiercely unsentimental. A cancer-stricken woman (Mother) and her son (Child) escape the stress of her illness by watching professional basketball on television, borrowing the bodies of these strong, healthy men to offset the tentative world of sickness they inhabit. When one of the New York Knicks (The Player) walks out of the television and into the woman’s living room, the comical, dreamlike process of healing begins. The seven-member cast will be headed by: Catherine Curtin as Mother, Samuel R. Gates as The Player, and Malcolm Morano as Child. Curtin and Gates come to this production directly from the Off Broadway revival of Aunt Dan and Lemon and Curtin originated the role of Janis Joplin in the New York and regional productions of Randal Myler’s Love Janis. Rounding out the cast as New York Knicks will be Ato Essandoh, Avery Glymph, David S. Shaw, and Jeffrey Evan Thomas. For tickets, call Smarttix 212-868-4444 or visit www.smarttix.com. For more info, visit www.newgeorges.org.

LISA KRON’S WELL: The Public Theater announces that due to critical acclaim and audience demand, the world premiere of Lisa Kron’s WELL, directed by Leigh Silverman extends its run through Sunday, May 16. Writer/Performer Lisa Kron -- whose acclaimed solo show 2.5 MINUTE RIDE was a roller coaster ride through the Kron family album -- returns to The Public Theater with the world premiere of her new play WELL. And this time her mother takes center stage…literally. In WELL, Ms. Kron sets out to explore the dynamics of health, family and community with the story of her mother's extraordinary ability to heal a changing neighborhood, despite her inability to heal herself. In this "solo show with other people in it," Kron asks the provocative question: Are we responsible for our own illnesses? But the answers she gets are much more complicated than she bargained for when the play spins dangerously out of control into riotously funny and unexpected territory. WELL features: Kenajuan Bentley, Saidah Arrika Ekulona, Jayne Houdyshell, Lisa Kron, Joel Van Liew, and Welker White. For tickets, call Tele-charge, 212-239-6200 or visit www.publictheater.org.



DICAPO CELEBRATES BUTTERFLY: New York City’s Dicapo Opera Theatre will make operatic history on April 23, 24, and 25, by performing three versions of “Madama Butterfly” to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Puccini opera. Part of its 2003-2004 season, Dicapo will perform the Paris version April 15-18. The company will perform the world premiere La Scala version on April 23,8PM, followed by the revised Brescia version on April 24, 8PM, and the now standard Paris version on April 25,4PM. The conference will take place on April 25, 11AM-2PM. Michael Capasso, Dicapo’s General Director, and Artistic Director Diane Martindale, have assembled casts of international acclaim for the three consecutive performances. Maestro Constantine Kitsopoulos, Music Director and Conductor of Baz Lurhmann’s production of ”La Boheme,” will conduct all three versions. Michael Capasso will direct. All performances and the conference will take place at the Dicapo Opera Theatre, 184 East 76 Street, New York City. For reservations, call reservations is 212-759-7652 or visit www.dicapo.com.

Puccini's exquisite tale of an innocent geisha, with its stunning arias, retains the power to engage our emotions and thrill our senses. This simple, yet powerful, account of a trusting young woman who commits herself to a man unworthy of her loyalty is based on a true incident. Butterfly's passion and heartbreak find new life and new meaning in Dicapo's intimate production, which underscores the story's Japanese atmosphere and Puccini's heart-rending music.

Puccini's Madama Butterfly is among the most popular and beloved operas of all time. However, at its premiere at La Scala in Milan in 1904 it was a failure. Puccini withdrew the opera and revised it for a production in Brescia five months later. At this performance the opera became a success, but it was not until 1906 in Paris that Puccini finally finished his revisions, creating the standard version as it is known today. This "Butterfly Festival" promises to be an event of international significance. For the first time ever, all three versions will be presented in a single weekend.

Among the artists scheduled to appear in the La Scala version are Puerto Rican soprano Hilda Ramos (Butterfly), Jane Bunnell of the Metropolitan Opera (Suzuki), and Sean Anderson (Sharpless). The Brescia version will feature Shu-Ying Li (Butterfly), Adam Klein (Pinkerton) and Jennifer Hines (Suzuki), both of the Metropolitan Opera, and Oziel Garza-Ornelas (Sharpless). Rosemary Musoleno and Peter Furlong will lead the Paris cast as Butterfly and Pinkerton.

To supplement this historic performance “first,” the Dicapo Opera Theatre’s conference on “Madama Butterfly” will consider the opera’s background and traditions. A panel of internationally acclaimed experts and opera stars known for their interpretation of the title role will participate in the conference. Andrew Farkas will be the panel moderator. Sopranos Licia Albanese, Elaine Malbin, and Catherine Malfitano, Diana Soviero, authors Mary Jane Phillips Matz and Michael Kaye, artist manager and producer Robert Lombardo, and music director Constantine Kitsopoulos, are listed among the expected panelists.

COMPOSERS PHILIP GLASS AND TAN DUN: The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center will present Cultural Connections: Composers Philip Glass and Tan Dun in Conversation, a discussion between two of the most intriguing and celebrated composers of our time, Philip Glass and Tan Dun, Sunday, April 25 at 3pm in the Rose Studio, Lincoln Center's Rose Building,165 W. 65th Street, 10th Floor. As pioneers of cultural crossover, they will share their personal artistic perspectives on combining the musical vocabularies of differing traditions. The afternoon will include musical demonstrations. This event will be followed the following Sunday, May 2 at 2PM in Alice Tully Hall, by performances of Philip Glass's Music from The Sound of a Voice and Tan Dun's Ghost Opera for Pipa and String Quartet. For tickets, call 212-875-5788 or visit www.ChamberMusicSociety.org

As the world shrinks steadily, intercultural contact grows ever more frequent. Sometimes the result is unsettling or even violent, but on the whole we have become increasingly adept at assimilating into our own lives cultural emblems -- ideas, outlooks, foods, fashions, sounds -- that earlier generations would have trivialized as exotic or dismissed as irrelevant. In the first of two Cultural Connections programs designed by Artist Member Cho-Liang Lin, CMS plumbs three modern works that reveal profound intercultural inspiration. The Azerbaijani composer Franghiz Ali-Zadeh fuses the sounds of her native musical tradition with the techniques of Western composition -- and not just Western composition, since her Sabah includes a part for pipa, a Chinese lute. In The Sound of a Voice the minimalist Philip Glass explores the dreams of a Japanese writer and an aging warrior -- again, combining Asian instruments with European ones. And Tan Dun’s semi-staged Ghost Opera, for pipa and string quartet, also charts an individualistic path of East-West fusion, this time in the service of (to quote the composer) "a dialogue between past and future, spirit and nature."

STRINGFEST: 92ND Street Y concludes its season’s of Chamber Music at the Y with an all star line up for “Stringfest” April 20-21, 8PM. The concert features composer and violinist Mark O’Connor, the Juilliard String Quartet, Jaime Laredo on violin and viola, cellist Sharon Robinson and guest violinists Joan Kwuon and Hiroko Yajima. Thr program includes works by Mozart, O’Connor and Mendelssohn. For tickets, call 212-415-5000.

Joan Kwuon most recently appeared with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Andre Previn, who also invited her to make her Tanglewood Festival debut in the summer of 1999. Kwuon has been soloist with the NHK Symphony of Tokyo and this season was soloist in two coast to coast tours with the Moscow State Radio Symphony and Chorus. She will tour with the St. Petersburg State Symphony next season. Kwuon made her New York recital debut at Alice Tully Hall. She has appeared at music festivals, including Cite de la Musique and consonance in France, Summer Festival in Prague and the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Kwuon studied at Indiana University, The Juilliard School and the Cleveland Institute of Music. She has been the recipient of numerous prizes and awards, including the LA Philharmonic Career Grant and the Golden and Jackson Awards from the Tanglewood Music Center. Kwuon is the founder of the non-profit organization, Artists for Breast Cancer Survival, Inc, which draws together members of the arts community in an annual fundraising event at Carnegie Hall for the benefit of cancer research and patient care. She and her efforts has been the subject of television and radio features on Lifetime Live, WABC, WCBS and Fox TV News.

Hiroko Yajima has performed in concert extensively throughout the United States, giving solo recitals in New York, Washington DC and Boston. She has played in London’s Wigmore hall and Purcell Hall and has performed as soloist with orchestra at Carnegie Hall. She has participated in summer festivals, including Marlboro, Aspen, Bravo! Colorado and Mostly Mozart, and has been a guest with The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Yajima has been a member of the Saito Kinen Orchestra under the direction of Seiji Ozawa since 1989, performing on tour in Europe and the US. She has collaborated with artists including the late Rudolf Serkin, Andras Schiff, Richard Stoltzman, Samuel Rhodes and the Mendelssohn String Quartet. Yajima was a member of the Galimir String Quartet, with which she recorded on the Vanguard label. She is a founding member of the Mannes Tri, which was the winner of the 1986 Naumburg Award, and is ensemble in residence at the Mannes College of Music. A native of Tokyo, Hiroko Yajima attended the Toho School and won a Fulbright Fellowship to study at the Juilliard School with Ivan Galamian and Dorothy Delay. She was also a winner of the Young Concert Artists international Competition. She has been on the faculties at Rutgers University and SUNY Stony Brook and is currently at the Mannes College of Music, where she has been the Chair of the String Department since 1998.

NADJA SALERNO-SONNENBERG, VIOLIN: On Wednesday, April 21, 8PM, Violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg returns to the Metropolitan Museum for her third season of chamber programs with friends, including pianist Anne Marie McDermott, for a program to conclude the Brahmns series, with Brahmns’ Sonata for Piano and Violin, and Schumann’s Piano Quintet in E flat Major. For reservations, call 212-570-3949 or visit www.metmuseum.org.

Also on Wednesday, April 7 and Saturday, April 10, 8PM, Nadja together with McDermott will give an edge-of-your-seat performance and an up-close look at this duo as they make a first ever recording live at Merkin Concert Hall. They will play Schubert’s Rondo, Sonata by Poulenc and Beethoven’s Sonata in C Major. Call 212-501-3330 for tickets or visit www.kaufman-center.org.

Renowned for her passionate interpretations and musical depth, Nadja is considered one of the most original and daring talents on the concert stage today. Following a summer of collaborations with the guitarists Sergio and Odair Assad and with cellist Lynn Harrell at some of the most prestigious musical festivals in the US, including Raviniak, Aspen and Seattle, Nadja splits her focus during the 2003-04 season between collaborative and orchestral engagements. Highlights include performances with the Seattle Symphony, the Detroit Symphony, the Atlanta Symphony, The New Jersey Symphony, the Phoenix Symphony and the Buffalo Philharmonic, among others.

With over 20 recordings to her credit, her current recordings are on the Nonesuch and Angel/EMI Classics labels. In addition to standard classical repertoire, including Barber, Brahmns, Bruch, Chausson, Debussy, Mendelssohn, Paganini, Shostakovich, Vivaldi and Wolf, she has received critical acclaim for several crossover discs as well: a self titled recording of gypsy music from Eastern Europe with guitarists the Assads, ”Humoresque”, a CD of music from the 1947 film of the same name that combines classical works and pop standards, and “It Ain’t Necessarily So”, which includes works by Gershwin, Kreisler and Scott Joplin.

ALSO AT MERKIN HALL: Si-Yo Society Chamber Music on April 18, 3PM with Ma Si-Hon, Andre Emelianoff, Tung Kwong-Kwong, will perform works by Turina, Kodaly and Dvorak. Call 212-501-3330 for tickets.

MEANWHILE AT CARNEGIE HALL: Making Music: Chen Yi on April 20, 7:30PM Weill Hall with Chen Yi, Carol Meyer, Zu Ke, Wu Man, Cho-Liang Lin, Edward Arron, Nina Lee, Xiao-Min Liang, and the Shanghai Quartet, Ara Guzelimian, moderator, in an all Chen-Yi program. Violinist Chee-Yun with the New World Symphony and guest Jack Van Geem and Nancy Zeltsman, Michael Tilson Thomas conducting, will play Varese, Harrison, Berio and Tilson Thomas on April 22, 7:30PM at Zankel Hall.. Cellist Yo-Yo and Emanuel Ax on piano and harpsichord join the artists of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center on April 24, 7:30PM at Zankel Hall will play works by Messiaen, Debussy, Stucky and Faure. Call Carnegie Charge at 212-247-7800.

LINCOLN CENTER PRESENTS: Soyeon Lee, piano, Juilliard William Petschek Piano Debut Award Recital, plays works by Haydn, Harbison, Brahms, Ravel and Sciarrino on April 8, Alice Tully Hall, April 8, 8PM. Yo-Yo Ma on the baroque cello will perform with the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra works by Bach and Vivaldi on April 29, 8PM Alice Tully Hall. For tickets, call CenterCharge at 212-721-6500.

AKIKO YANO AT JOE’S PUB: Akiko Yano will perform with Anthony Jackson & Kahlil Kwame Bell at Joe’s Pub April 6 & 7, 7:30PM. Akiko Yano, one of Japan's most enduring, beloved, and famous musical artists, returns to New York's Joe's Pub for a series of rare live appearances, following her sold out shows at Joe's in 2002 and 2003. Akiko first achieved international attention on tour with Yellow Magic Orchestra (YMO), and with Ryuichi Sakamoto, whom she married in 1982. She has collaborated, recorded and appeared in concert with international artists as far ranging as Thomas Dolby, Pat Methany and The Chieftains, the latter two having included her compositions and performances on their recent CDs and in concert. Both performances feature Anthony Jackson on contrabass guitar and Kahlil Kwame Bell.

KAREN AKERS: Karen Akers, one of America’s most arresting and successful concert and cabaret stars, brings her new show, “Time After Time” to the legendary Oak Room at the Algonquin Hotel on West 44 Street for an exclusive six week engagement, April 6 – May 5. “Time After Time” features songs from the theatre and the great American Songbook by such composers as Stephen Sondheim, Alex North, Cole Porter, Harold Arlen, Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Lowe among others. Performances are at 9PM and 11:30PM. Recipient of the 2002 MAC (Manhattan Association of Cabarets & Clubs), Akers has performed throughout the US, Europe and the former Soviet Union. She has appeared in many prestigious venues worldwide from Carnegie Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, Rainbow and Stars, London’s Pizza on the Park to command performances at the White House. Her concert and cabaret are just a part of her multi faceted career, which encompasses theatre, TV, film and recordings. On Broadway, Akers made her debut as Luisa in “Nine” for which she won a Theatre World Award as well as a Tony Award nomination. She was one of the original stars of the Tony Award winning musical “Grand Hotel.” She has numerous recordings including her upcoming compilation of theatre songs, ”If We Only Have Love.” For reservations, call the Oak Room at the Algonquin Hotel at 212-419-9331.


SAEKO ICHINOHE DANC: The Company joins US/Japan 150th Anniversary Celebration with two works that relate to the 1853 arrival in Japan of American Commodore Matthew Perry on Tuesday April 13, 8 PM, at Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College, 68th St. The new "Utamaro" is inspired by the great artist of the same name, the most created and influential artist of Ukiyoe, a style of woodblock prints. His portraits captured and revealed the daily lives of people living in the Edo period (1603-1867). Ichinohe has also revived "Stars & Stripes and Cherry Blossoms," which portrays the changes that took place after Perry's visit. For reservations, call 212-772-4448.

Ichinohe has selected for this season two works that relate to the 1853 arrival in Japan of American Commodore Matthew Perry. The "Utamaro", created in collaboration with longtime company principal Jeff Moen, is inspired by Utamaro (1753-1806), the most creative and influential artist of Ukiyoe (translation: the floating world), a style of woodblock prints. Utamaro was renowned for his portraits of beautiful courtesans, tea-house girls, lovers, working women, and more, capturing and revealing the daily lives of people living in the Edo period (1603-1867). Music is a blend of traditional and contemporary; costumes are by Yukie Moen and lighting is by Chenault Spence.

The section "Michiyuki" (Lover's Journey) is dedicated to the late Antony Tudor, teacher and mentor of Ichinohe while a student at Juilliard. In his written report, dated June 15, 1970, Tudor included the remark that Ichinohe was "among the most disciplined, intelligent, artistically sensitive students we have had in 19 years," adding "We feel she has great gifts and should have not only a very good future in the business but will also help other people to do so." Remembering his support and confidence in her, as well as his ability to convey his thoughts in just a few words, the choreographer dedicates this section to Mr. Tudor in the hopes that it would please him.

The changes that took place after the arrival of Commodore Perry (the subject of Steven Sondheim's "Pacific Overtures") provide the inspiration for the 1984 "Stars & Stripes and Cherry Blossoms," to an original score by American composer Nicholas Scarim. Special guest artists are Rie Fukuzawa and Tetsushi Segawa.

Born and raised in Japan, Ichinohe graduated from Juilliard and has been a NY resident for more than 25 years, presenting her company here and around the world. She is also movement consultant at the Metropolitan Opera for their production of "Madama Butterfly."

NAI-NI CHEN DANCE: The Ft. Lee-based Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company, whose nationwide tour and NYC performances began last September, will appear in their home state of New Jersey for two performances.

The Company will perform on Saturday April 17, 8 PM, in the Pollack Theatre of Monmouth State College, 400 Cedar Avenue, West Long Branch. The program will include "Incense," inspired by the sculpture titled Nine Muses by Carlos Dorian, installed at Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, New Jersey; "Raindrops," recalling Ms. Chen's childhood in Keelong (known as the Rain City), in Taiwan; "Passage to the Silk River," an exquisite solo for Nai-Ni Chen which uses the traditional long-sleeved costume that symbolizes the motion of the water as well as the emotion of the dancer; "Unfolding," a modern dance inspired by the ancient I-Ching: "The Tao is ever changing, alternating, moving, without rest." In addition to the performance, Ms. Chen will teach a Master
Class at the College on April 16th at 3 PM. For tickets, call 732-571-3483.

On Thursday April 29, the Company will dance at Stockton State College, College Drive, in Pomona. The company will present a program of traditional Chinese dances and modern dances by Nai-Ni Chen with a Chinese flavor. Program includes: "Mongolian Chopstick Dance," a delightful quartet to a Mongolian Folk Song played live by Melody of Dragon Music Ensemble; "Lion Dance," a popular dance performed at the Chinese New Year Celebrations; "Peach Flower Landscape," inspired by the utopian world called Peach Flower Village; and "Fan Dance," performed to a popular Chinese opera tune, and other dances. the traditional Chinese music group, Melody of Dragon, will be featured. For reservations, call 609-652-9000. [Abalos]

Copyright © 2004 Marilyn Abalos.
Marilyn Abalos is an arts writer published in Asian New Yorker, AsianWeek, Filipinas and Filipino Reporter.

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