Features NYC Features Published 28 August 2018

Exeunt NYC Recommends: September

From saints to computers to the Constitution, we have many new works to recommend this month.

Exeunt Staff

We’re back to school with a busy fall season and here are our critics’ recommendations for the month:

The Revolving Cycles Truly and Steadily Roll’d (Playwrights Realm/Duke on 42nd Street) (September 7-October 6): Jonathan Payne’s New York debut is exciting for many reasons, but central for me is the deservedness of the moment. Payne is one of the hardest working and humble writers I’ve ever met, balancing artistic career and ambition with a full-time job (that he really likes!) working to support individuals with mental health issues in the Bronx. That this play intertwines both pursuits (pulling from his experiences as a social worker) seems like the perfect combination. (Dan O’Neil)

The Emperor at the Young Vic (Photo: Simon Annand)

The Emperor (Theatre for a New Audience) (September 9-September 30): Polish journalist/photographer/poet/public intellectual Ryszard Kapuściński wrote in 1978 about the downfall of Ethiopia’s Emperor Haile Selassie by interviewing members of his circle–his servants, his associates. Focusing on ten of the servants depicted in the book, Irish playwright Colin Teevan has created a solo piece, directed by Walter Meierjohann, to be performed by the British actress Kathryn Hunter (with the Ethiopian musician Temesgen Zeleke). It’s taking the already complicated project of adapting a nonfiction book and then turning it on its head in so many ways: which facets of the story get featured, how the roles and stories are shaped, who portrays the characters. The fusion seems to have enormous potential. (Loren Noveck)

Playwright and star Heidi Schreck and Director Oliver Butler of What the Constitution Means to Me (Photo: Jenny Anderson)

What the Constitution Means to Me (New York Theatre Workshop) (September 12-October 21): I haven’t yet seen a new play that grapples well with the trying historical moment in which we find ourselves, but I think what the Constitution means to all of is a promising place to start. This solo play written and performed by Heidi Schreck, who as both writer and performer, has an excellent grasp on the small nuances of the way people think, and rethink, and doubt their own, starts from her own experience giving lectures on the Constitution as a teenager raising funds for college tuition. (Loren Noveck)

Intractable Woman: A Theatrical Memo on Anna Politkovskaya (Play Company/122CC)(September 13-October 14): The Play Company often brings international plays to New York that we might not otherwise see. In this instance, they are hosting the New York premiere of Italian playwright Stefano Massini’s play about the famed assassinated journalist who exposed Russia’s war on Chechnya. Massini has just had a massive play open in London (The Lehman Trilogy) to acclaim and Intractable Woman marks his American debut. With threats to journalists increasing and rhetoric around “fake news” proliferating, a look at the dangers of reporting under repressive regimes remains important to reflect on. (Nicole Serratore)

A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur (La Femme Theatre Productions/Theatre at St. Clement’s) (September 14-October 21): La Femme Theatre Productions presents a rare revival of a late-career Tennessee Williams gem. Kristine Nielsen stars as a lonely schoolteacher who dreams of moving above her station through an advantageous marriage. The play touches on many of Williams’ evergreen topics, including aging, grief, lack of fulfillment, and broken dreams. Austin Pendleton directs a cast that also includes Annette O’Toole, Jean Lichty, and Polly McKie. (Cameron Kelsall)

Mother of the Maid (Public Theater/Anspacher Theater) (September 25-December 2): Joan of Arc’s story has fascinated playwrights for centuries. But what do we know about the life she left behind to forge ahead with her crusade? Jane Anderson’s play, which premiered in 2015 at the Massachusetts-based Shakespeare & Company, filters the events through Joan’s mother, Isabelle, a common woman who struggles to comprehend her very uncommon daughter. Glenn Close takes on the role, in her first Off-Broadway appearance in more than 30 years. (Cameron Kelsall)

The Slow Room (Performance Space New York) (September 27-29): I love Annie Dorsen’s algorithmic theater. Maybe I want our computer overlords to take over theater or maybe I just want Dorsen to. Each of her projects have made creative use of computers and automated processing for performance pieces that made music out of nonsense, that brought the internet’s shouty voices to life under the stars, and even reconfigured Hamlet. Her new show is part of Performance Space New York’s Post Human series. I’m game for whatever she brings to the table.  (Nicole Serratore)

Apologia (Roundabout Theatre Company at the Laura Pels Theatre) (September 27-December 16): Any chance to see Stockard Channing on stage should be taken. Here, she repeats her acclaimed London performance in Alexi Kaye Campbell’s play as an art history scholar who faces family turmoil after publishing her memoirs. U.K. critics praised Channing’s performance; I can’t wait to experience it for myself. (Cameron Kelsall)

Exeunt Staff is a contributor to Exeunt Magazine