Aya Ogawa’s gentle, forthright reckoning of a play is a belated processing of the loss of a parent by a daughter who now has children of her own.
Before the show gets going at the Japan Society, the director and playwright Aya Ogawa invites the cast to tell us about a failure. Ogawa’s The Nosebleed stemmed from a multiyear teaching and workshopping project about the concept, one in which Ogawa encouraged other playwrights to work through and to claim their failures. According to their director’s note, they couldn’t shake the feeling that they were somehow ducking the assignment themselves, keeping protected while the others stripped bare.
Some days, I find myself so lost in my own thoughts that I completely forget where I lock my bike. I walk around in circles, block after block, examining every bike rack and street post trying to find my own. Sometimes, I walk right past it, after a cursory glance has me convinced it’s just a look-a-like, and only a second look forces me to recognize it as my bike. In these moments, I am walking outside but I am clearly elsewhere. I am questioning my choices, my relationships, my values, and asking myself: why exactly are you alive? Some of the most compelling artwork encourages us to reflect on this interiority and the underlying thoughts we hold. Transgressive, unpopular, unwelcome, unmoored––we suppress until we have the emotional capacity to process these thoughts. Making sense of it all can be difficult, and sharing this confusion even more so, as we expose ourselves to the risks of the unknown. I am reminded of these thoughts as I walk through Stephanie Acosta’s immersive exhibition Good Day God Damn at the Chocolate Factory.
Street performances celebrated the Chocolate Factory Theater, a space that has often seemed inseparable from the work that happens there, as it moved to a new building.
Sibyl Kempson’s unruly audio play takes Mary Shelley and her famed creation from old England to contemporary America. Bigfoot shows up, too.
David Neumann and Marcella Murray receive a 2020 Obie Award for the Creation and Performance of Distances Smaller Than This Are Not Confirmed
Six days a week, Sheila Lewandowski, 46, and Brian Rogers, 38, run an adventurous performance space in Long Island City, Queens, called the Chocolate Factory theater. On Sundays they forage for cholesterol and watch “Battlestar Galactica” on Netflix. The couple, who are married, live next door to the theater with their dog, J. R., a pit bull terrier and Labrador retriever mix that they found on the Jackie Robinson Parkway.
For years, this small but vital space for experimental dance and theater, in the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens, has been building an under-the-radar Vimeo archive of all that happens there (or most of it). Browse dozens of performances from the past decade — along with helpful “context videos” in which the artists talk about their work — at vimeo.com/chocolatefactory.
It can be a challenge, when writing about the work of other artists, to resist the urge to “solve” for it. I say this as a maker who is deeply invested in all the different tools that can be deployed and the myriad outcomes that become available depending on seemingly small decisions. (Let’s put that light here. Let’s add an extra camera… etc.) Distances Smaller Than This Are Not Confirmed, the new co-created dance/theater piece by David Neumann and Marcella Murray, which is being co-presented by the Chocolate Factory Theater and Abrons Arts Center and runs through January 25th, certainly tempts the maker and solver in me.