If you live in D.C., here are my top 6 recommendations for the art you should be seeing over the next couple of weeks. If you don’t live in D.C. and are interested in knowing what one of the premiere artistic cities in the country has going down, here’s your chance. If you aren’t in either of those two categories, you should probably stop reading now because you suck.
6.Hamlet at Gallaudet University. Gallaudet is one of the best colleges in the world for the deaf and hard of hearing. Normally I would groan at the idea of sitting through a 3.5 hour college production of Hamlet, but I thought this would be something different, and it certainly was. Seeing a deaf production not only gave me insight into the culture but also an appreciation for the way language can function in a play. At least two of the up-and-coming theatre companies in town are hiring deaf actors on a regular basis, and I’m curious to see if Gallaudet’s program can launch D.C. into a partnership between theatre and the deaf community.
5.The Howard Theatre. This theatre reopened this past week for the first time since the 1970s. It’s an important historical theatre for D.C. as it was the first theatre in the country open to people of color (1910). The line-up is just outright kooky. Everyone from the Henson Puppet Show to The Roots to Wanda Sykes to Chaka Khan is coming in the next couple of months. Personally, I’m going to rebel bingo next week, ’cause who doesn’t want to watch people rock it out in crazy costumes while playing bingo?
4.Crown of Shadows: the wake of odysseus at Round House. For a while now, Woolly Mammoth and Studio theatres have taken the lead on edgy new work. Even though part of Round House’s mission statement is to produce contemporary work, I’ve been a bit disappointed in some of their stodgy choices (Pride and Prejudice) and was a little skeptical going in to see a modernization of Greek mythology about Odysseus’ family. Even their contemporary work is usually pulled from the popular stock of work previously successful in NYC and elsewhere. But I was happy to see Round House step up to the plate. This was a world premiere, fresh-off-the-new-work page. The dialogue was sharp, the pacing was quick, and the unexpected turns of violence and exploration of the icky power relationship between mother and son was engaging. For the first time in a while, I found myself watching rather than analyzing a play. It goes through May.
3. Flash Music in Columbia Heights. Picture this: a hoard of musicians from various local bands get together, split up into new bands for a week, rehearse a few times, then throw an impromptu flash music party in Columbia Heights. Yes, it’s hipster, but the good kind of hipster. It’s an interesting experiment artistically, and some of it was actually really good. I’ve been told there will be some expansions and further ventures this summer, so keep your ears peeled ’cause you’ll want to get to one of these if you can.
2. Hirshhorn Museum, the Smithsonian’s modern art Museum presents: Doug Aitken: SONG 1, a piece that they are referring to as “liquid architecture.” Giant projectors on the outside of the doughnut-shaped building light the night with images that surround the entire building on the world’s largest 360-degree convex screen. I believe there is also some sort of sound that accompanies the exhibit, but I can’t speak to that as I haven’t been yet. I’m holding off for those warm nights coming in May; the exhibit plays till mid-month.
1. Killing Women. Shameless self-promotion time! I am helping to produce a piece for Pinky Swear Productions that opens this week. We are a small, new work women’s company trying to make a go of it, and today our preview made the front page of the Washington Post Lifestyle section. I am so proud of this company! Plus, this show (about female assassins, if you hadn’t guessed) is dark, funny, entertaining, and just a little off-kilter. Hmm. Just like me. Go see it if you live here. My ladies are performing at the Spooky Action Theatre Space on 16th St. until May 12th.