According to Lincoln Center's new LCT3 project at its slogan, it takes "New Audiences for New Artists." It also takes new critics, hence the establishment of Theater Talk's New Theater Corps in 2005, a way for up-and-coming theater writers and eager new theatergoers to get exposure to the ever-growing theater scene in New York City. Writers for the New Theater Corps are given the opportunity to immerse themselves in the off-off and off-Broadway theater scene, learning and giving back high-quality reviews at the same time. Driven by a passion and love of the arts, the New Theater Corps aims to identify, support, and grow the arts community, one show and one person at a time.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

NEUROfest review: "Tabula Rasa" and "Cincinnati" by Jess Lacher

Neurological science and art come together for NEUROfest, presented by Untitled Theater Company #61 and running now through January 29. Reviewed below are two of the eight featured plays, readings and seminars will also be presented.

What do a nineteenth century feral boy, a contemporary young woman with autism, and Hansel and Gretel have in common? Nothing and everything, as evidenced in TABULA RASA, a new musical presented by High Fidelity Theater. As three blank chalkboards are filled over the course of the evening with scribbles and words, the play itself is in constant danger of being consumed by an avalanche of ideas, and the huge cast threatens to burst the seams of a small stage.

There are big ideas about civilization and wildness at play here, but the second act throws up its hands in frustration and devolves into a string of devices and gags which keep the story at arm’s length. The production has more than its share of problems, notably its stock characters and uneven vocals, but it has something to say about our insistence on putting people into comfortable boxes—it just takes a long, shaky time to get there.

Another lost child is at the heart of Don Nigro’s CINCINNATI, an arresting one-woman show performed (only once, unfortunately) by Nancy Walsh. A literature professor has lost her baby girl in a fire, and we are the college seminar to whom she delivers a wrenching one-hour lecture on her ensuing grief and madness. Walsh’s performance is spare and funny, even as it becomes painful to watch. Presented with a seminar on Walsh’s true-life encounter with neurological trauma: a brain tumor which nearly took her life shortly before her acclaimed performance of CINCINNATI in Edinburgh.

NEUROfest is a good place to go and think about your brain. For schedules and more information, go to

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