In the beginning of 2010 I did a top New York City theatrical experiences of the decade, so it follows I should so one for the 2010s. I did 16 entries in 2010, so I guess it also follows I should do 16 entries again.
IN ORDER OF THEIR FIRST APPEARANCE
Baby Universe: A Puppet Odyssey, January 7, 2011
Wakka Wakka Productions at Baruch Performing Arts Center
Wakka Wakka has become one of my favorite theater companies, and it all began with their production of Baby Universe in 2011. Both wildly innovative and incredibly emotional, the show used puppets to tell the tale of a government program to save the population of an unnamed, dying planet in a dying universe. I have since seen Wakka Wakka’s SAGA and Made in China, which were wonderful, but the expansiveness of Baby Universe eclipses them, and I still think back on that production as one of the most beautiful shows I’ve ever seen. It felt like these were puppets doing what they were born to do. Wakka Wakka doesn’t usually revive their shows in NYC, but I wish they’d bring back this one.
Sleep No More, March and April 2, 2011
The McKittrick Hotel
I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to volunteer on this production. For five months, my sister and I helped make props, paint walls, clean rooms, organize taxidermied animals, lay bricks, and do any other sort of ad hoc task they might have needed me to do when I showed up at the warehouse that would soon become the McKittrick Hotel. I wanted to do something in theater where I’d get my hands dirty. I wanted to see this space transform. I wanted to show up at Sleep No More with a deeper understanding than the average theater-goer. And it was all worth it. I was able to see the show twice for a total of $10 and explore a labyrinthine space both familiar and surprising. Audiences walk the space of their own free will, wherever their eyes and feet take them. I found what I called a Narnia closet (a passageway in the back of a closet that takes you straight through to another hallway). I tried desperately for a one-on-one, during which a cast member pulls you into a room and recites a monologue for you, but I wound up with a semi-private pendulum dance show. After three hours, or three performance loops, we all gathered in the main hall for the final event. It was immersive theater at its most popular, but also at its most grand. And I was able to immerse myself in it fully. The show is still playing, but I haven’t been back since 2011. The show now exists as a memory of an amazing expererience. Like a dream.