Just Do Art! Sept. 5, 2013 | East Villager & Lower East Sider

Just Do Art! Sept. 5, 2013

Photo by Jonathan Slaff L-R: Eliza Simpson, McKenna Fox, Jennifer Laine Williams, Cristina Marie, Chudney Sykes and Samanthan Strelitz are the “Yankee Wives.”
Photo by Jonathan Slaff
L-R: Eliza Simpson, McKenna Fox, Jennifer Laine Williams, Cristina Marie, Chudney Sykes and Samanthan Strelitz are the “Yankee Wives.”

“Yankee Wives”
Those Bronx-based boys of summer have had their share of drama this season — on and off the field. But year in and year out, some of best action happens behind the scenes, as the players on a “team-within-a-team” experience the rivalries and partnerships that come with being one of the “Yankee Wives.”

This Group Theatre Too production has novelist, screenwriter and playwright David Rimmer (a Pulitzer finalist for 1980’s “Album”) directing a revised version of his sexy and irreverent 1982 play. Inspired to pen a fictional account of Yankee wives after watching the real Bronx Bombers on TV in the 1970s, Rimmer recalls how he “realized they were an alternate family. They spend more time with each other than with anybody else because no one else is there for them. It’s a cloistered society — no one else knows what it’s like.” Audiences seem to disagree with that last assessment: Over the years, Rimmer’s been told by more than one real-life baseball wife that the play’s fly-on-the-wall observations are right on target.

Through Sept. 15. Thurs.-Sat. at 8pm, Sun. at 2pm (except Sept. 12 at 6:30pm). At The Hudson Guild Theater (441 W. 26th St., btw. 9th & 10th Aves.). For tickets ($18, $15 for students/seniors), call 212-868-4444 or visit yankeewives.com. Also visit grouptheatretoo.org.

Image by Luba Lukova Zach Grenier and Dr. Jennifer Francis bring star power and academic cred to the staged reading of Karen Malpede’s eco-drama “Extreme Whether.”

Image by Luba Lukova Zach Grenier and Dr. Jennifer Francis bring star power and academic cred to the staged reading of Karen Malpede’s eco-drama “Extreme Whether.”

STAGED READING OF “EXTREME WhETHER”
Brooklyn-based playwright Karen Malpede’s new eco-drama “Extreme Whether” gets a staged reading backed by a little star power and a whole lot of academic cred. Presented by Theater Three Collaborative, the afternoon begins with the reading at 2pm — featuring, among others, Zach Grenier (from TV’s “The Good Wife”) and four-time Obie Winner George Bartenieff. “Extreme” is based in part on the theories of Dr. Jennifer Francis (a Rutgers University-based Artic ice scientist).

Set on an inherited wilderness estate, the family drama pits a famed scientist and his younger colleague/lover against his twin sister and her husband (both publicists employed by climate change deniers). A wise-beyond-her-years child, an environmentalist uncle and a frog named Sniffley (doing canary in a coalmine duties?) round out the ensemble. Got any questions? Ask them at 4pm, when Dr. Francis leads a talkback session with the cast and the audience.

Tues., Sept. 10. Staged reading from 2-4pm, talkback from 4-5pm. At The Cherry Lane Theatre (38 Commerce St., just west of Seventh Ave.). Tickets are free, but reservations are suggested. Call 212-989-2020 or email company@cherrylanetheatre.org. For information about Theater Three Collaborative, visit theaterthreecollaborative.org.

COMMUNAL SPACES: A GARDEN PLAY FESTIVAL
The 2013 version of writer, director and native New Yorker Lillian Meredith’s Communal Spaces marks the outdoor festival’s third annual installment — officially propelling it into the realm of tradition. Meredith, whose body of work uses site-specific productions to “explore the boundaries of performance and the role of the audience in live theater,” has commissioned five 30-minute plays. Each takes place in a different Lower East Side community garden, and can be viewed individually or pub-crawl style. “Some of the gardens,” explains Meredith, “are more haphazard, while others are more manicured. They are like jungles, barbecue hangouts or magical hidden places. The plays reflect the unique feeling of their garden, and turn the garden itself into a character.” In keeping with the festival’s spirit of exploration, maps will be handed out — pinpointing nearby sources of food, drinks or coffee, and encouraging audiences to explore the neighborhood’s diversity.

Photo by Max Schneller From 2012’s Communal Spaces festival: the cast of Alexandra Bassett’s “Agon Hope Steven.”
Photo by Max Schneller
From 2012’s Communal Spaces festival: the cast of Alexandra Bassett’s “Agon Hope Steven.”

Set in Siempre Verde garden (Stanton & Attorney Sts., at 11am), Josh Gulotta’s “Tim and Tuna in Town” eavesdrops on two strangers, who have a chance encounter in the heart of a city gone dark. At 12:30pm, in Miracle Garden (E. Third St., btw. Aves. A & B), Angela Santillo’s “Extinguish Yourself” is a comedy of manners (or lack thereof), in which a garden party goes horribly wrong. At 3pm, in the All People’s Garden (E. Third St., btw. Aves. C & D), Will Arbery’s “Yeild!” finds two day-drunk guys talking about their moms – with a girl in close proximity. At 4pm, in Parque de Tranquilidad (E. Fourth St., btw. Aves. C & D), Patrick Shaw’s “CO. OP” finds Little Prairie Co-op Apartments newcomer George navigating interpersonal and garden boundaries. Completing the festival, at 6pm in Green Oasis (E. Eighth St., btw. Aves. C & D), Alexandra Bassett’s “Limoncello” spins old-timey tales, washed down with the help of shared drinks in cool glass bottles.

Free. Fri.-Sun., Sept. 13-15, 20-22 and 27-29. Each play is 30 minutes. For more info, visit lillianmeredith.com.

Photo by Rob Keith Jeremy Crutchley, in “Sacred Elephant.”
Photo by Rob Keith
Jeremy Crutchley, in “Sacred Elephant.”

SACRED ELEPHANT
Noted South African/West End actor Jeremy Crutchley stars in this solo stage adaptation of Heathcote Williams’ epic 1987 poem, which examines the life of elephants in their natural habitat and captivity. Different in form, but similar in spirit to an African prairie song, “Sacred Elephant” celebrates the earth’s largest living land mammal — in its natural habitat and in captivity. In doing so, it “challenges mankind to regain its lost moral compass, asking what it says about us that we destroy a creature which, by our own measurements, is greater than we are.” Crutchley portrays “The Other” — a presence caught between elephantine and human existence, who observes “both creatures as an inter-species sensibility, timeless and ambiguous, treading the thin line between life and death.”

Through Sept. 22. Wed.-Sat. at 8pm, Sun. at 3pm. At La MaMa’s First Floor Theater (74A E. Fourth St., btw. Bowery & Second Ave.). Tickets: $20 ($18 for students, $16 for seniors). To purchase, call 212-868-444 or visit smarttix.com. Also visit sacredelephantplay.com.

– BY SCOTT STIFFLER