Magazine article American Theatre

Under the Radar Jumps over the Moon

Magazine article American Theatre

Under the Radar Jumps over the Moon

Article excerpt

NEW YORK CITY: Because of the failing U.S. economy, Mark Russell thought he might have to pull back. He also thought that this year's edition of Under the Radar, which takes place Jan. 6-17 at the Public Theater and at partner venues in New York City, would embrace more international work and fewer U.S. productions. But in fact the ongoing stream of vanguard theatrical work has remained consistently rich, fiercely independent and artistically curious. Somehow, Russell says, even the foreign works kept circling back to solid American themes. "Maybe U.S. artists are trying to grapple with our U.S. identity, post-Obama," Russell muses. "There were so many artists and ensembles whose works I felt needed to be in the festival. Under the Radar has become a great place to start careers. We're focusing on these artists without permanent homes yet making theatre from the fringes."

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The quality of artists certainly seems high. The National Theater of the United States, at the Public, takes up the themes of history, culture and capitalism through the lens of the 19th-century lecture circuits in Chautauqua! Doris Mirescu, a director of Romanian extraction, has dared to stage John Cassevetes's Husbands, the 1970s film about the enigma of male friendship. "It's a classic that not many of us have seen--a discarded film, if you will," Russell notes. One of this year's centerpieces, he adds, is American Document, in which director Anne Bogart boldly reimagines one of Martha Graham's major works, which consists of film excerpts, documentary texts and her handwritten notes. …

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