Abrons Hosts “AIRspace” Open Studios on Saturday

Coming up this weekend, the Abrons Arts Center is hosting “open studios” for its 2011-2012 AIRspace artists-in-residence.

Every year, the organization provides free studio space to five visual artists and a curator. This year’s artists are Amy Feldman, Brie Ruais, Carolyn Salas, Ellie Krakow, and Julie Ann Nagle. The curator-in-residence is David Everitt Howe.

The open studios event will be held Saturday from 4-8 p.m. At 5:30 p.m., Abrons’ Visual Arts Director Jonathan Durham will lead an informational session on how to apply to the 2012-2013 AIRspace residency. Abrons Arts center is located at 466 Grand Street.

Click here for more info on this year’s artists.

American Realness Festival Returns to Abrons This Week

This week, the edgy “American Realness Festival” returns to the Abrons Arts Center for a two week program of boundary-busting dance, theater and musical performances.  Thomas Benjamin Snapp Pryor has expanded the offerings this year to 20 productions in all three theaters.

Weekend Kids’ Pick

A Christmas Carol runs through December 18 at the Abrons Arts Center.

The Abrons Arts Center is presenting Reid Farrington’s “A Christmas Carol”  through December 18th. They write:

A Christmas Carol is an imaginative and ghostly new show based on one of the most ubiquitous stories of all time by one of the most famous authors in the English language. Created and directed by acclaimed theater and new media artist Reid Farrington (of The Passion Project and Gin & “It”), this exciting work takes the form of a Victorian-era phantasmagoria, conjuring up ghosts of the past, present, and future by integrating media and live theater with the well-known holiday classic. Haunting images from 35 different film versions of A Christmas Carol are projected on moving screens using a modern-day version of the magic lantern. Film clips collide and combine with live performers on stage, eerily blurring the distinction between performance and video projection. Through complex staging and choreography, the show mashes together over 100 years of film history. Performers slip in and out of characters from the Alastair Sim, George C. Scott, and Bill Murray versions , as well as The Muppets and Mr. Magoo variations (and many more) to create an imaginative and new interpretation of the beloved Dickens story.

The show costs $20; students and seniors can see it for $10. Abrons Arts Center, 466 Grand St. (at Pitt).

For more family-friendly events, please visit our Kids page.


Nutcracker in the Lower: Taking Ballet to the Streets

Photo credit: Urban Ballet Theater.

Editor’s note: Today we’re pleased to welcome New York writer Royal Young as a regular columnist on The Lo-Down. Royal contributes literary coverage to Interview Magazine and the new web site Holy Diver. Young recently completed “Fame Shark,” his memoir.  After six years living in exile (in Brooklyn), this Lower East Side native is back in his natural habitat, rediscovering the old neighborhood.

As a kid in the early ‘90s, I spent my time haunting the halls of Henry Street Settlement and the backstage at the Abrons Arts Center, chasing the creative energy that pulsed through those corridors.  Now that energy has exploded on the Abrons’ stage with the Urban Ballet Theatre presenting its 10th anniversary run of “Nutcracker in the Lower.”  A modern, Lower East Side take on the classic Christmas tale, this urban Nutcracker is bursting with life and longing.  Following Clara, a lonely young girl whose father has disappeared, leaving her only a collection of soldier style dolls, the colorful production whirls into fantasy when she falls asleep beneath a patchwork, glittering pine tree.

“Nutcracker in the Lower” Returns For 10th Season Tomorrow Night

A holiday tradition returns to the Lower East Side tomorrow night. It’s the 10th anniversary year of the Urban Ballet Theater’s “Nutcracker in the Lower” at the Abrons Arts Center. The hip-hop/African dance/flamenco-infused/krumping version of the holiday classic takes Tchaikovsky’s original score, adding many multi-cultural twists. Ticket prices start at $20. Performances run through December 4th. Check out the Abrons Art Center web site for more details.


James Franco Summons Tennessee Williams at Abrons Today; Second Show Added!

Word just came from the Abrons Arts Center that they’ve added a second afternoon show today of “Three Performances in Search of Tennessee.” The project (part of the Performa 11 festival) features James Franco and Laurel Nakadate.  As you may have heard, the show is a bit unusual. Here’s the blurb from the Abrons event calendar:

(The project is) based around Tennessee Williams’ famous play The Glass Menagerie (1944). In part one, Franco and Nakadate will lead a séance in the Elysée Hotel in New York City, in the room in which Tennessee Williams died. With an invited group of participants, the artists will communicate with Tennessee Williams through an Ouija board and receive instructions from the author’s spirit. The group will pass his message on to the audience members, who will participate in the piece by following the spirit’s instructions. In part two, female actresses of all types will audition in front of a live audience for the part of Laura in The Glass Menagerie. In the tradition of karaoke, Laura’s lines will run along the bottom of a video-projection of Franco playing the “Gentleman Caller” as the actresses act out the given scene. A second audition for male actors will make up the final part of the project; this will be a live audition for actors wishing to play the role of Tom in The Glass Menagerie, all delivering the same monologue from the play. As with the women auditioning for Laura, Nakadate and Franco will intervene as “directors” as the actors’ attempt to inhabit the role. Three Performances in Search of Tennessee will be broadcast on the Internet.

The second performance begins at 1:45 p.m. Run don’t walk to the box office, 466 Grand Street.

Steampunk Returns to Haunt Abrons This Weekend

Third Rail Projects brings its spooky take on Lewis Carroll to Grand Street for Halloween.

Steampunk Haunted House returns to the neighborhood this weekend, transforming the Abrons Arts Center‘s playhouse into an immersion experience that’s part art installation, part performance, part fashion and all experiential fun. The third annual installment, which opens Saturday and runs through Oct. 31, promises “a beautiful and terrifying dreamscape of neo-Victorian elegance and phantasmagoric clockwork horrors.”

Broadway Stars Come to Abrons Arts Center

A high point of our week was a special night at the Abrons Art Center Monday — a spectacular concert featuring Broadway star Bebe Neuwirth and a few of her (very talented) friends. The event was a benefit for Equine Advocates and Henry Street Settlement.

Abrons Arts Center Benefit with Bebe Neuwirth Oct. 3

Actress Bebe Neuwirth and a group of Broadway colleagues will give special performances at the Abrons Arts Center next month to benefit a unique partnership that teaches inner-city kids about horses.

The Oct. 3 event will help Abrons’ parent organization, Henry Street Settlement, fund a program it runs with Equine Advocates Rescue and Sanctuary upstate in Chatham, N.Y. The sanctuary rescues horses from abusive and neglectful situations, and children from Henry Street’s programs take field trips to learn about and interact with new four-footed friends.

In addition to Neuwirth, the evening’s performers include Brenda Braxton, Jason Daniely, Dontee Kiehn, Marin Mazzie, Roger Rees and Karen Ziemba.

Tickets start at $250 and are partially tax-deductible. Find details and buy tickets on the Abrons website.

Joey Arias is Ready to Bedazzle at Abrons

Photo by Steve Menendez.

Downtown drag legend Joey Arias was feeling energized when I met him inside the historic theater at the Abrons Art Center one steamy day last month.  Fans would not leave him alone on the 45 minute walk from his apartment in the Village.  Joey, who opens a new version of his acclaimed 2008 show, “Arias With a Twist” this weekend, loved every minute of it.

Abrons Arts Center Announces Fall 2011 Season

Our friends at the Abrons Arts Center have announced a fantastic lineup for their fall season. They write:

Henry Street Settlement’s Abrons Arts Center continues to carve out a unique culture nitch on the Lower East Side. With three world premieres and a distinctive mix of contemporary performance, immersive theater, new music, and innovative twists on popular classics, the Abrons’ Fall 2011 season offers practically something for all tastes and levels of artistic exploration.

Abrons is proud to present the return of Arias With a Twist starring the demented diva Joey Arias and a cadre of fantastical puppets under the direction of Basil Twist. This is then followed by the wildly successful Steampunk Haunted House, this year creating an immersive performance environment in the Abrons Playhouse that adopts the more terrifying elements of Lewis Carroll’s classic stories.

New Grand Street Youthmarket Opening

The Hester Street Greenmarket did not return this year, but a new Youthmarket begins tomorrow a few blocks away.

Starting tomorrow, LES residents will have a new option to buy farm-fresh produce without leaving the neighborhood. A new partnership between Grow NYC and the Henry Street Settlement will bring fruits and vegetables to a farmers’ market in front of the Abrons Arts

Tickling The Ivories at Abrons

Pianist Blair McMillen, one of the musicians performing at Keys To The Future at Abrons this week

Move over Beethoven. A series of solo contemporary piano concerts—Keys to the Future—makes its way to Abrons Arts Center this week. In its sixth year, the series runs May 24-26 featuring a pithy survey of contemporary piano repertoire packed into one-hour recitals.

Joe Rubenstein, pianist/composer and curator of Keys, says his goal is to offer audiences a glimpse into the richly diverse styles of contemporary piano music ranging from minimalist and neo-Romantic, to modernist pop-influenced and hybrid pieces. Rubenstein has drawn piano composers from all over the world to play in the series which operates as a non-profit organization.

Paper Bag Players Bring Free Performance to Abrons For Mother’s Day

The Paper Bag Players will perform on Sunday at Abrons Arts Center.

This Mother’s Day, The Paper Bag Players will give a free performance of WHOOP-DEE-DOO! at the Abrons Arts Center. The esteemed company, which was established in 1958, brings their newest show back to the neighborhood – they will entertain the whole family with hot air balloons, a tiny paper bag sea monster, and a game show called “Whoop-dee-doo,” which audience members are encouraged to play. The show starts at 2:00 pm and is suitable for children ages 3-8. At 1:00pm in the Abrons amphitheater (weather permitting),  there will be a free 25-minute workshop for children and adults with paper as the theme. 466 Grand Street.

Special Triangle Fire Doc Screening At Abrons Arts Center

You may have heard about the HBO documentary, “Triangle: Remembering the Fire,” which debuted last week. This year marks the 100 year anniversary of the tragic event that killed 146 workers, many of them residents of the Lower East Side. Coming up tonight at 7pm, there will be a free screening of the film at the Abrons Arts Center.