A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Jan. 22 print edition. Email Matthew Holman at [email protected]Papers, projects and midterms will all shortly reenter the student body’s subconscious and fuel immense mental suffering across the Washington Square Park area. However, fear not because spring programming at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts is here to appease academic woes with artistic jolts throughout the semester.
First on the roster –– and an explosive intersection of experimental theater with a potent political agenda at that –– “THISISPOPBABY: Riot” is a widely acclaimed Irish production that shimmied its way across the pond for a premiere in the United States, Feb. 15-17. Distinguishing lower Manhattan, an area rich in queer history, to host said premiere is a significant transnational tie to the performance: a celebration of queer activism and optimism in Ireland showcased through slapstick comedy, spoken word, high-flying theatrics and drag elegance.
Quite the new twist on an old classic, the Berlin-branded theater troupe Gob Squad will bring their bristling exploration of Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” to Skirball for a U.S. premiere, March 29-31. Set amongst an idyllic literary salon, the group dishevels posh performativity in substitute for feasting, feuding, dancing and generally creating a deliciously disorderly experience for the audience, whom are allowed to directly participate in all of it. Perhaps the show’s a good pick-me-up for those still mourning Broadway’s loss of “Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812.”
Chaos will persist at Skirball after the Gob Squad’s departure, this time pulsating from Chile. A collective of young theatrical artists labeled Teatro La Re-sentida –– translating to The Resentful in English –– perpetuate its adversary art with the play “The Dictatorship of Coolness,” having its American premiere performed in Spanish with English supertitles, April 5-7. This stinging satire of Santiago breathes daring youthful energy into established norms of Chilean social infrastructure but doing so with the universal electricity of theater.
Skirball will conclude its splendiferous spring season, May 4-5, with a deceptively simple outlook: just three musicians and six performers on a stage. They make up routine for Damaged Goods, the company forged by famed choreographer Meg Stuart. The uncomplicated foundation of this particular Goods production, titled “Until Our Hearts Stop,” is a mere facade: given the history of Stuart’s work, the nine individuals will synthesize an environment full of intense emotions, searing orchestrations and high art, all the while being impeccably choreographed.