On “Terrorism”

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For some time now I’ve been thinking about starting to write about what I see in the news. Not as political commentary exactly, but rather as an extension of my work as an arts critic—a critical lens on how I see ideas being formed not only in the media but also among the online communities I find myself part of. I resisted for a long time because it’s a slippery-slope down into the think-piece industrial complex, but I figured I’d give it a stab.

Today, I want to write about “terrorism.” I hate the word. I think it’s overused. I think people rely on it as a rhetorical crutch. And all of that does real work in the world that I find very frightening.

Terrorism is a subject on which so much has been written, which intersects with so many different sorts of discourses, there’s not too much to add. Yet ironically, we in America seem to constantly be fighting about who is or is not a terrorist. Consider the man who just murdered three people in a mass shooting at a Colorado Planned Parenthood. Intersecting as it does with the messy and vicious Republican presidential primaries, liberal and even mainstream publications have been tracking with intense interest which candidates have chosen to name these shootings “terrorism,” which apparently would imply a willingness to risk alienating Christian Evangelical voters, who might not look so unfavorably upon an individual motivated to kill in the name of protecting unborn children. Continue reading

On Enthusiasm (or the Lack Thereof) For Arts Writing

Radiohole's "Tarzana." Photo by Maria Baranova

Radiohole’s “Tarzana.” Photo by Maria Baranova

A couple days ago, I got a funny text message from Andy Horwitz out in sunny San Diego. It read simply, “OMG my head is going to explode.” He pointed me to a Facebook discussion initiated mainly by Andrew Dinwiddie, who was lamenting the news that Time Out New York may be completely folding its dance page due to lack of interest. It’s not surprising, nor is it new news: that’s probably been in the works since Gia Kourlas left months ago, leaving Helen Shaw as the publication’s part-time dance writer. The Village Voice, of course, axed its dance coverage a couple years ago. Not much real estate left for dance writing in NYC.

I couldn’t help but think about this when my latest article for Culturebot went up this morning. It’s a 4,500-word profile of Parabasis blogger Isaac Butler. It covers nearly 15 years of New York theater history. It’s very long, and I suspect few people will read it.

A couple years ago, Brian Rogers told me one of the reasons he appreciated what we do at Culturebot is because it’s the closest we have today to what C. Carr used to do for performance in the ’80s and ’90s in her long reviews for the Voice. The writing is a record of ephemeral events, a living, ever-developing history of contemporary performance in New York (and, insofar as we can, elsewhere). I appreciated Brian’s point and took it to heart. I read Carr’s collection On Edge and did my best to be inspired by it. Continue reading

January Festival Season Is Around the Corner

Sister Sylvester's "They Are Gone But Here Must I Remain." Photo by Maria Baranova

Sister Sylvester’s “They Are Gone But Here Must I Remain.” Photo by Maria Baranova

Under the Radar and PS122’s COIL Festival have announced their line-ups for the 2016 festival season, and they come with pleasant surprises. First of all, I can’t help but plug the work I am myself involved in: Sister Sylvester is reprising They Are Gone But Here I Must I Remain as part of UTR’s Incoming! series. We’re pretty stoked about it. We go up on Saturdays January 9 & 16. It’s very exciting and we’re ecstatic to be part of the same festival as Toshiki Okada, whose God Bless Baseball is presented at the Japan Society as part of UTR. Kathryn Hamilton and I actually met at an afterparty back in January back in 2012 talking about Okada and how much we loved his work. I maintain he’s one of the most interesting theater artists working today, and worth checking out. Continue reading

Sister Sylvester’s “What’s Yours Is Mine (On a Beach At Night Alone)”

indexOur latest from Sister Sylvester is halfway through its run, and so we want to make sure you know about it. It’s strange even for us: A highly intimate (no more than 10 people per night) performance called What’s Yours Is Mine (On a Beach At Night Alone).

It starts with a story that may or may not be true, about finding a book on the night train to Lisbon. It’s about – and an experiment in – radical hospitality. It references Genet. And…other things happen.

Featuring a remarkable cast and what might be our most ambitious design yet, it takes place at Torn Page in Chelsea, the art space and reading room maintained by actor/director Tony Torn in the historic home of his parents Rip Torn and Geraldine Page, which is also the most beautiful spaces we’ve ever performed in (with all due respect to Abrons Art Center and JACK).

Kathryn came up with the parenthetical part of the title. I came up with the actual and I don’t think she actually knows what it’s from. So scroll down if you want to relive part of your childhood, Americans, and otherwise visit BrownPaperTickets to reserve a spot. We close this Saturday, November 21.

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