Arts Watch: Two World Premieres to Catch This Weekend

Nancy Giles. Photo by Jim Moore.

February starts off with a theatrical bang this weekend as not one, but two shows will have their world premieres on downtown stages.

The first is Nancy Giles’ autobiographical show, The Further Adventures Of The Accidental Pundette, at Dixon Place.  You might recognize Ms. Giles from her appearances on CBS News Sunday Morning where she has voiced her opinions on everything from politics and pop culture to the conspiracy of high heels for the past ten years (she was also part of the ensemble cast of the critically acclaimed TV series China Beach). But that is just her day job. Ms. Giles has been a downtown theater fixture for years, honing her craft at Dixon Place and other experimental spaces.

Accidental Pundette follows our heroine “down her rabbit hole of real life media (mis)adventures” and bumpy rise from actress & writer to television essayist.  A highlight of the show (or lowlight depending on how you look at it) is Giles’ re-staging of her live appearance on the Larry King show where she had an out of control, total meltdown in front of millions of viewers. She may also sing.

Good Person of Szechwan. Image courtesy The Foundry Theatre.

 

Next up is The Foundry Theatre’s 21st century take on Bertold Brecht’s Good Person of Szechwan, opening at La MaMa. The plot follows the story of one of Brecht’s most endearing and entertaining characters, the good-hearted, penniless, cross-dressing prostitute, Shen Tei, as she struggles to lead a life that is good. “Can we practice goodness and create a world to sustain it”?  our heroine asks. A tough question to answer even today, seventy years after Brecht posed it, and a theme that resonates with The Foundry, which is known for building projects around ideas of social justice and civic inquiry.

Shen Tei is forced to disguise herself as a savvy businessman named Shui Ta in order to master the ruthlessness necessary to be a “good person” in a brutal world..and the plot thickens! Casting couldn’t be more perfect, this Shen Tei is played by none other than the singular, shape-shifting actor Taylor Mac. Indie rock vaudevillians, César Alvarez and The Lisps, provide original live music. Director Lear deBessonet brings this classic theatrical clown show to life.

The Further Adventures Of The Accidental Pundette/ Dixon Place / Fridays & Saturdays, 
February 1 -  23, 7:30pm/   
$15 (advance), $18 (door), $12 (stu / sen) or TDF /

Good Person of Szechwan / The Foundry Theatre at La MaMa / Tuesdays – Sundays, February 1 – 24, 7:30pm, Sundays also 2:30pm / $35