N.Y.U. Skirball Season Reinvigorates the Classics
Numerous high-profile Shakespeare productions will fill New York stages next year.
Among them will be “Seize the King,” Will Power’s contemporary spin on “Richard III” that was staged by the Classical Theater of Harlem in Marcus Garvey Park last summer, which is likely the only production that has a courting scene in a bathtub and that sprinkles in references to birth control and eating sushi with a fork.
The 95-minute, hip-hop-infused reinterpretation of Shakespeare’s classic will return from March 3 to March 13, as part of New York University’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts’s new season, which was announced on Tuesday. Carl Cofield, who directed the summer production, will return as director.
In her review of last summer’s outdoor staging, the New York Times critic Laura Collins-Hughes deemed the show a Critic’s Pick, praising its humorous reimagining of the classic characters. The production “contained multitudes of beauty,” she wrote.
Before “Seize the King,” the Skirball will kick off its season with the world premiere of Elevator Repair Service’s “Seagull,” inspired by Anton Chekhov’s classic drama “The Seagull” and directed by John Collins (Feb. 2-20). Elevator Repair Service, a veteran theater company known for its unconventional takes on classic literary texts, staged “Gatz,” an eight-hour reading of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel “The Great Gatsby” at the Skirball in 2019.
“‘Seagull’ isn’t a marathon” like “Gatz,” Jay Wegman, Skirball’s director, said of the new production, which runs about two and a half hours. “But it’s going to be whacked out in a wonderful way.”
The Skirball has also lined up the world premiere of an interactive online experience called “I Agree to the Terms” (March 25-April 3), created by the theater company Builders Association with input from “microworkers” who develop Amazon’s algorithms. Audiences will complete virtual training sessions with these workers — taking them inside a sprawling and largely unregulated industry of people who earn pennies per click while completing assignments that are repetitive, boring, maddening and sometimes disturbing.
“They’ve done a few workshops, and it’s anxiety-provoking in these sessions,” said Wegman, who added that the show becomes a competition among audience members. “You’re constantly being watched and counted and manipulated by the algorithm, so it’s very timely.”
Rounding out the Skirball’s season are a concert by the Spanish flamenco singer Miguel Poveda, who will make his New York City solo debut (April 7-8); the world premiere of David Dorfman Dance’s “(A)Way Out Of My Body” (April 22-23); the New York premiere of the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Du Yun’s “Zolle” and “A Cockroach’s Tarantella,” presented with International Contemporary Ensemble (April 29-30); and another New York premiere, the choreographer and MacArthur fellow Eiko Otake’s “The Duet Project: Distance is Malleable” (April 14-17).
A full season lineup is available at nyuskirball.org.