Review: Macho Dancer at Abrons

A girl, a Filipino girl, is prancing around stage. Well, gyrating really, more like an exotic dancer might, and posing – like a gladiator or Ninja warrior might. Battle ready, muscles flexed, fingers pointed like guns.

New Moon Tribute to ‘Alien Comic’ Tom Murrin

Tom Murrin Blue Glitter Dress. Photo: Jim Moore

Tom Murrin Blue Glitter Dress. Photo: Jim Moore

If you recall, I wrote about the untimely passing of Tom Murrin, aka the Alien Comic, here on The Lo-down last March. Thankfully, his spirit lives on (not that it’s been forgotten) in PS 122’s Avant-Garde-Arama: New Moon tribute at Abrons Arts Center this weekend.

Tom was ‘avant-garde’ way before PS 122 popularized the phrase in its long running variety show.  He was a first generation La MaMa playwright in the ’60s, penning plays with titles like “Cockstrong” and “Butt Crack Bingo.”  In the ’70s and early ’80s he performed as “Tom ‘Trash’ Murrin” (often on the street for unsuspecting passers-by). Props were his thing—Tom could animate any object — hence the “trash” moniker. From this, the Alien Comic was born and soon Tom was performing his hilarious antics around town, including at many long lost East Village rock clubs and venues such as CBGBs, Max’s Kansas City, 8BC, and King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut. Ah, the good old days when a night out meant more than just a fancy meal and specialty cocktail.

Target Margin’s “Inn” Offers a Macabre Evening

Target Margin3

The (*) Inn. Photo by Erik Carter.

The shtetl is haunted. Many of the Lower East Side’s Jewish immigrants of the early 19th Century came from such small shtetls, villages in Eastern Europe full of superstition and also vibrant culture. These explode onto the stage in Peretz Hirschbein’s The (*) Inn, put on by Target Margin Theatre at Henry Street Settlement’s Abrons Art Center.

Directed by David Herskovitz, the action follows a farming family who lives across from an abandoned inn. Strange lights play across the inn’s windows at night and spirits whisper from its walls. But the family accepts this with rather gleeful nonchalance until the father decides to wed his eldest daughter and as her dowry knock down the crumbling building and rebuild it as a way for her and her new husband to make income off travelers that will surely stop at the restored and ghost-free old country bed and breakfast.

Arts Watch: Narcissister’s Organ Player Comes to Abrons

Narcisster: Organ Player

Narcisster: Organ Player

How many Alvin Ailey Dance trained performance artists do you know who have the hutzpah to audition for America’s Got Talent in a plastic Barbie Doll like mask — or multiple masks for that matter? I can name only one. “She’s a doll. She’s a puppet. She’s a bodybuilder.” She’s Narcissister, the Brooklyn based artist and performer whose “reverse striptease” act (in which she pulls pieces of clothing from her “private parts”) as well as her bold videos and art installations, have made her an international sensation.

Arts Watch: Queer New York Comes to Abrons Arts Center

Image: photo_quintche Marlene Monteiro Freitas “Quintche” Photo: João Figueira

An international arts festival is quite an endeavor for any organization. A queer international arts festival is ambitious. This week, in keeping with its motto to “serve as an intersection of cultural engagement for local, national, and international audiences and art-workers,” Abrons Arts Center has partnered with curators Zvonimir Dobrović, artistic director of Europe’s Queer Zagreb and independent curator André von Ah, to present the first installment of Queer New York International Arts Festival (QNYI).

According to Dobrović and von Ah, who conceived the idea for the festival, QNYI promises “to dispel preconceived and stereotyped notions of ‘queer,’ and provide a platform for expanding the discourse about artistic practices.” The line-up features a smorgasbord of queer work from an exciting group of internationally recognized and acclaimed artists from Europe, Asia, South America and the U.S.—with U.S. premieres by Italian companies Ricci/Forte and Plumes dans la tete, Tadasu Takamine from Japan, and Marlene Freitas from Cape Verde, to name a few.

Weekend Kids Pick: Little One and the Sea of Letters

Still from Trusty Sidekick's "The Little One and the Sea of Letters." Photo by Leah Reddy.

This week’s pick is Trusty Sidekick’s production, “The Little One and the Sea of Letters,” which opens at Abrons Arts Center on Saturday at 3pm. The story follows the  journey of a little girl who leaves her village to embark on a great voyage. It’s inspired by the history of the Henry Street Settlement and the Lower East Side.

Bryan Zanisnik on Hoarding, Philip Roth and the Absurdity of Failure

Bryan Zanisnik: Every Inch a Man, site-specific installation and performance, 2012

Home is where your stuff is. In Bryan Zanisnik’s latest installation, Every Inch A Man, at Abrons Art Center, he has mined material from his childhood home as well as Abrons’ vast basements to create a magically cluttered world filled with memories. A hoarder’s dream come true in vivid color, the exhibit conjures the secret spaces of childhood: attics, basements and garages where one’s old favorite toys were discarded. Zanisnik reigns at its center, trapped in a clear plastic case — crumpled two dollar bills and old baseball cards around his feet, reading Philip Roth’s arguably failed classic The Great American Novel.

Successfully portraying the absurdity of failure is something Zanisnik does with pathos and spectacular visual effect. He has elevated these lost objects, dredging them up from their shadowy hiding places, making them important once again. On a sunny day last week, I sat down with Zanisnik on a bench on Orchard Street to discuss the Freudian depths beneath his work, childhood memorabilia, his parents role in his art, Philip Roth and New Jersey.

Object Collection Brings Hyper Experimental Opera to Abrons

Combining performance, experimental music and theater, the exciting Brooklyn-based group Object Collection (writer/director Kara Feely and composer/musician Travis Just) is bringing their latest production, INNOVA, to the Abrons Arts Center. The performance, presented with Incubator Arts Project, will include an array of various texts from “gangster films, political manifestos, and plagiarized performance art,” with five vocalists/performers “sifting through a baroque landscape of objects and tools triggering a barrage of action, images and sound.” Read an in-depth article about the current production and the performance process in NewMusicBox. For a sample of their work, watch Object Collection’s most recent video “teaser” (after the jump).

John Zorn & Abrons Produce Concert For Japan Benefit

Jazz icon and Lower East Side fixture John Zorn is putting his money where his mouth is, along with the Abrons Arts Center and a host of fantastic New York musicians. Zorn has returned to the Abrons to organize a Friday night concert benefiting the victims of the devastating earthquake that hit Japan in March.

Zorn has a deep history with Japan, having worked there for several years in the ‘90s, and that personal connection triggered him to spring into action, team up with the Abrons Arts Center, and assemble nearly 20 top artists in an effort to raise funds for the cause.

The night will be split into two shows, an early set, and a late set. Among the congregating songsters are such heavyweights as Grammy award winners Norah Jones and Jesse Harris, Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, and Sex Mob. The Arts Center as well as the performers are donating their services to ensure that 100% of the funds generated go to Japan Society’s Earthquake Relief Fund. See below for a schedule and full listing of all the amazing talents participating in this special event.

TICKETS: $35-50

April 8 | 6:30 + 9:30 pm

6:30 PM:
















9:30 PM:








For more information and to buy tickets, click here for the Abrons Arts Center website.

John Zorn & Co. To Headline Benefit Concert for Japan

Innovator, composer and musician John Zorn has announced one of his three benefit concerts for Japan earthquake relief will be held at Abrons Arts Center on April 8th.  Zorn will host two shows that evening and has invited over a dozen big-name musicians from the realms of indie rock, contemporary jazz, and avant-garde to come together in support of recovery efforts in Japan.  The performance at 6:30p will include Thurston Moore, Matthew Shipp, Gyan Riley, Masada String Trio, Erik Friedlander and more.  The performance at 9:30p will include Norah Jones, Jesse Harris, Vinicius Cantuaria, Buke and Gass and more.

Steampunk Haunted House Returns to Abrons Arts Center

photo by Chad Heird

Last year’s popular Steampunk Haunted House is back at Abrons Arts Center this Halloween for a second season.  The “neo-Victorian” inspired tour looks like a lot of fun for the whole family (ages 8 and older).  It was created by Zach Morris and Third Rail Projects, incorporating installation and performance art into a winding “labyrinthine” adventure inside the Henry Street Playhouse.

Weekend Arts Wire

  • Hot! Festival comes to a close this weekend at Dixon Place. They note on the FB page: Gee – we’re actually kind of sad Hot Festival is ending this weekend. It’s been a great summer and the artists, audience, interns, press, and cocktails have been amazing. At least you’ll have Fringe Festival at Dixon Place for the rest of August – and our Lounge is open every night – see ya’ll in the Fall!
  • Everyone is now gearing up for FringeNYC, which begins August 13th and will feature nearly 200 theater companies.  Many venues on the L.E.S. will host some of the productions.

The Whiz:Obamaland Comes to Abrons

The Nicholas Leichter Dance Company and musical mix master Monstah Black have joined forces to create their version of The Wiz and The Wizard of Oz for the Obama generation. The show arrives at Abrons Arts Center tonight and features choreography by Leichter, a commissioned score by Black and added musical selections – showcasing an array of different dance, performance, and music.  $20 // 8pm // Weds., June 16th – Sat., June 19th // 466 Grand St.

AIRspace 2010 Opens at Abrons Arts Center

Abrons Arts Center will kick off a year-end open studio exhibition, AIRspace 2010, of work created by it’s current Artists in Residence with an opening reception tomorrow evening from 6-9pm. The Visual Artist-in-Residence (AIR) Workspace Program provides free studio space each year (for 11 months) to six NYC artists. This year’s artists are:

Four Psychedelic Nights of Joshua Light Show at Abrons

Starting tonight, Abrons Arts Center will host four unique evenings of live music and cinema featuring the iconic Joshua Light Show. Each evening is curated by vocalist and composer Nick Hallett (featured at the New Museum last spring), presenting live music from different artists, enhanced by the unique visuals of Joshua Light Show.