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.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Review of "The Emperor Jones," by Matt Windman

No offense to the Wooster Group, but is it really necessary for this fifty-minute show to be so deafeningly loud?

Alongside the productions of Richard Foreman and the late Spalding Gray, the Wooster Group has been one of the mainstays of the Off-Off-Broadway experimental theater scene. And though the troupe often produces impressive work, they purposely make it hard to appreciate. Their production of Eugene O’Neill’s expressionistic one-act “The Emperor Jones” is currently being revived at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn. And in a role played by such greats as Charles S. Gilpin and Paul Robeson, Kate Valk is now taking the reigns of Emperor Brutus as a woman in blackface makeup.

In spite of how absurd that casting sounds, Ms. Valk is actually quite stunning. Hugging a microphone stand against a background of video imagery, she takes her black box theater by storm as O’Neill’s once terrorizing leader who must now run away mentally and psychologically from demons of the past. But in spite of the abundant creativity in director Elizabeth LeCompte’s deconstructive vision, choices such as the minstrel-era blackface or the blasting music are questionable and potentially irritating or offensive. I would advise anyone interested in attending to forgive their political incorrectness and to bring earplugs.

St. Ann’s Warehouse, 38 Water Street. 718-254-8779. $25-37.50. Wed-Sun 8pm. Through April 2.

No comments: