I was completely engaged by a performance last night at Theater for the New City. I was attempting to connect with my southern Italian druid roots by attending the solstice dance of the Tarentella. The existence and Italian nature of a spider dance was news to me. News to me now is the memory of making passing reference to the word after a visit to Mama Leone’s in 1982. Mama Leone’s was a theater district restaurant featuring a hodgepodge pageant of Italianate cooking and traditions where, after a visit there, I equated the Tarentella with the Mexican Hat Dance. I remember now coming from a Broadway Production called Marilyn which I saw because Debra Dotson was somewhere in the ensemble.
By the way, last night I was coming from an open house at the Ferencz residence. George, the director and his wife, Sally and son, Jack, extended their hospitality to family and friends and I spoke with a few of the Experimenta playwrights, Kim Merrill, Michael Zeitler (Waiting for Mert), and Yasmina Rana (The Warzone is My Bed) as well as the author of the upcoming White Whalers show, Mark Gorman. A fellow named Brian Johnson was moving from helping costume "Is He Dead?" to Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas where Bette Midler takes over for Celine. Meanwhile, Julie Rosier is joining forces with Grace Lee Boggs, and I suppose with Julie's sister, too, to leave New York, to clean up Detroit and spread the good news (which goes well beyond the transition at Caesar's Palace).
This was a night of enjoying old friends directly and indirectly, beginning with Yasmine’s update on Kenny Nowell and Justin Lambert, and their two daughters. Justine’s Looking Glass Theatre was one of Yasmine’s first producers in New York. She heard from Justine that Kenny and I were roommates. Remember, in one of these other posts my mention of Kenny’s adaptation of Wedekind’s Spring Awakening.
I arrived at TNC at 8:30... the 8:00 curtain rose forTarentella in the Johnson Theatre to a packed room with additional chairs already added so Angelina sent me into Queens of Heart by Sabura Rashid, and I'm grateful. There is an important element of salvation there and the voice that comes through to the main character, a voice that is often supressed under the term schizophrenia, is of an acknowledged savior, an elder, a grandmother. The piece includes a therapist's hilarious acknowledgment of spirituality behind and beyond professional therapy, and a general sense that the voice of the playwright is aggressively healing.
At the end of the piece I met Fred (Fedele) Spadafora again. His oil painting of Sabura is in the Theater Lobby along with a few other still life canvases from photographs. He is a photographer and designer who has worked in publishing. For example, he designed the Pro-Choice on Mental Health CD and the privately released Prepare to Meet Your Maker Soundtrack Recordings. He also took photographs for The Marriage at the Statue of Liberty. We went to Otto's Shrunken Head, a Trader Vic bar with music programming by DJ Shred...
While there I got a message from Jeff Marino that he and his family were near and I joined them at an Indian Restaurant. They had just seen The Golden Compass. They came by the apartment. It was a surprisingly eventful evening.