jakub | October 13, 2023

AMERICAN THEATRE | Under the Radar to Rise Again


Under the Radar posters outside the Public Theater.

NEW YORK CITY: Just months after its longtime host the Public Theater announced that it would end its support, the Under the Radar Festival has announced that it will come back in January 2024 as a city-wide, multi-venue festival of theatre and performance emerging from New York and around the world. Curated in collaboration with an array of New York arts organizations and leaders, each harnesses the community-building, connective, celebratory nature of the festival format to introduce some of today’s most innovative voices to wider audiences. Festival founder Mark Russell is leading the effort, in collaboration with producers Thomas O. Kriegsmann and Sami Pyne of ArKtype.

Under the Radar began in 2005 at St. Ann’s Warehouse. When Oskar Eustis assumed the role of artistic director of the Public, he invited the festival to be a part of his inaugural season, in 2006, and it quickly evolved into one of the most significant and adventurous festivals in New York, known for providing a breakout platform for many artists in a month when international presenters were in town for the APAP conference. When this past June, the Public announced that it could no longer produce the festival due to financial concerns, Russell set to work to line up UTR’s new iteration.

“The festival’s resurgence speaks to the importance of collaboration as part of the solution for the theatre world in its post-pandemic crisis while uplifting the historic impact of experimental work on New York City culture,” said a press release from the festival. In addition to its myriad performance offerings, UTR will sponsor additional programming addressing challenges ahead of an imperiled industry in need of substantial change, including Symposium/Gathering (Jan. 12) in collaboration with IPC (International Presenting Commons), CIPA (Creative & Independent Producer Alliance), NYU Skirball, and HowlRound, discussing the obstacles facing American artists and the presentation of international work; Coming Attractions at Chelsea Factory (Jan. 13), connecting artists pitching new work with consultants; a series of encounters with new works-in-progress; and the 7-day Atelier for Young Festival Managers New York.

In a statement, festival director Mark Russell said, “Festivals are celebrations. They mark harvests and other moments of abundance or recognition. Under the Radar is a festival that each year celebrates the vibrancy of new theatre, in New York and internationally. At this moment, even in very challenging times, there is still innovative work rising from communities around New York and in far-reaching parts of the globe. Under the Radar aims to spotlight this work for audiences—not only those ‘in the know,’ but from a wider stretch of communities, diverse in all respects, that could benefit by engaging with these creative leaders.”

More events are slated to be announced; below is a partial listing of the offerings.

The Black Circus of the Republic of Bantu
Albert Ibokwe Khoza (South Africa)

Presented by New York Live Arts | Live Artery
A healing ritual of movement, sound and sheer physicality, The Black Circus wields theatre as a weapon to counter centuries of dehumanizing spectacle.

Cultural Exchange Rate
Tania El Khoury (Lebanon/U.S.)
Presented by Fisher Center at Bard and the Invisible Dog Art Center
An interactive live art project in which artist Tania El Khoury shares her family memoirs of life in a border village between Lebanon and Syria.

The First Bad Man
Pan Pan Theatre (Ireland)
Presented by Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
The real story at this book club isn’t the novel, it’s the funny, profane, and worryingly confusing cast of characters that showed up to read along.

Hamlet:Toilet
Yu Murai and his company Kaimaku Pennant Race
Presented by Japan Society
Notoriously iconoclastic and scatological director Yu Murai’s Hamlet | Toilet runs the Bard’s highbrow tale of existential woe through the poop chute.

Of the Nightingale I Envy the Fate
Motus (Italy)
Presented by La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club
An ancient story finds raw, exquisite life in this intense and challenging one-woman retelling of the Greek Cassandra myth.

Open Mic Night
Peter Mills Weiss and Julia Mounsey (U.S.)
Presented by Performance Space New York and Mabou Mines
An experimental theatre piece about the end of an experimental theatre, Open Mic Night says goodbye to what it is at its beginning. And things only get stranger from there.

Public Obscenities
Shayok Misha Chowdhury (U.S.)
Presented by Theatre for a New Audience with Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Soho Rep, and NAATCO
A bilingual play from the visionary writer-director Shayok Misha Chowdhury about the things we see, the things we miss, and the things that turn us on.

Queens of Sheba
Jessica L. Hagan (U.K.)
Presented by Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
Through laughter, tears, song, dance and sisterhood, the powerful Black Queens of Sheba upend misogynistic and racist narratives to share their own story.

Rose: You Are Who You Eat
John Jarboe (U.S.) in collaboration with The Bearded Ladies Cabaret
Presented by La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club
In this true story of gender cannibalism, singer and performer John Jarboe charts a wildly original path toward self-actualization, giving whole new meaning to the phrase “you are what you eat.”

Search Party
Inua Ellams (U.K.)
Presented by Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
Playwright and poet Inua Ellams opens his archives for an interactive peek inside the creative process where you decide what he chooses to share.

this house is not a home
Nile Harris (U.S.)
Presented by Abrons Art Center and Ping Chong Company
A gingerbread minstrel, Dimes Square vape fiends, and a beloved children’s movie cowboy howl frenzied rants of Afropessimism from within a brightly colored bounce house.

Titanic Depression
Dynasty Handbag (U.S.)
Presented by New York Live Arts | Live Artery
All aboard queer alt-cabaret artist Dynasty Handbag’s surreal Titanic, where that sinking feeling in your gut is for the global disaster.

Volcano
Luke Murphy (Ireland)
Presented by St. Ann’s Warehouse in association with Irish Arts Center
Erupting with passion, intrigue and beauty, this futuristic dance theatre—part mini-series, part sci-fi—offers audiences multiple paths to its experience.

William Shakespeare’s As You Like It, A Radical Retelling by Cliff Cardinal
Cliff Cardinal (U.S./Canada)
Presented by NYU Skirball
It’s Shakespeare like you’ve never seen it before, but playwright Cliff Cardinal just needs to do a little housekeeping before we start.

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