On Jan. 4, The Public Theater kicked off the eighth annual Under The Radar Festival featuring 12 days of internationally sourced theatrical acts ranging in theme and device from puppetry to rock music to improvised art. We spoke with producer Mark Russell to learn a little more what's in store for 2012:
What can we expect from this collection of shows?
You can expect people running wild in the streets, cardboard puppets with attitude, rock 'n' roll theater and several fallen angels. It is a festival in the full sense of the word, a party for independent theater from around the world.
What was your goal when producing UTR?
Our overarching goal is reach a wider audience for independent theater groups, theater groups who make theater but don’t own one. We are an international platform for this work and people come from all over the boroughs and from around the world to see the festival.
Who's your audience?
We are trying to make this work available to as wide an audience as possible, we are getting great turn out – some of our shows are selling out, with long waiting lists. We get a great young crowd but also little old ladies in tennis shoes, engaged New Yorkers from all levels of society.
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What shows do you especially recommend?
All of our shows are worth a look, nothing is really too obscure. [But] I recommend “El Pasado es un Animal Grotesco” from Argentina. A beautiful epic work about four young Argentinians, tracking their lives from 1999-2009. It's in Spanish but we use super titles so its just like seeing a foreign movie. It is a funny, sexy and poignant master work by Mariano Pensotti.
And if you like a little glam punk music with a dark twist you should see “Goodbar.” It’s a contemporary Lulu story told by the band Bambi and the theater company Waterwell with video cameos by Ira Glass, Moby and many others. It happens in a bar, and you can have a beverage before [and] during the show. After [you can hang] out with the actors in our late-night festival lounge.
What's different about 2012?
This has been a magic year for me and for Under the Radar. In August the festival almost fell apart (artistically) because of an artists cancellation, but it has come back together in an amazing way. Every year is a little different, I feel we have to reinvent our festival afresh each year to keep it in touch with our times, and to reflect the wealth of new theater happening around the world. I hope people will come down to see what we are up to.
Events you can still catch this final weekend include:
(New York) Jan. 13 at 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 14 at 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 15 at 7:30 p.m.
A blend of concert and theatre performance exploring sex, independence and persona.
(New York) Jan. 13 at 9:30 p.m.; Jan. 14 at 5 p.m.; Jan. 15 at 7 p.m.
A portrait of Susan Sontag tracing through her own journals.
"Word Becomes Flesh"(Oakland) Jan. 13 at 7 p.m.; Jan. 14 at 9:30 p.m.; Jan. 15 at 5 p.m.
A look at the black male form and fatherhood through word, song and movement.
"El pasado es un animale grotesco" ("The past is a grotesque animal")(Argentina) Jan. 13 at 7 p.m.; Jan 14 at 7 p.m.; Jan. 15 at 2 p.m.
Four Argentinians share a decade of their life on a revolving stage.
"Alexis. A Greek Tragedy"(Italy) Jan. 13 at 9 p.m.; Jan. 14 at 7:30 p.m.
Resistance. Rebellion. Revolution. Ancient themes take place in the modern day.
"Lick But Don't Swallow!"(Turkey) Jan. 13 at 7 p.m.; Jan. 14 at 2:30 p.m.; Jan. 15 at 7 p.m.
An angel finds herself trapped in the body of a porn star.
"In the Solitude of Cotton Fields"
(Poland) Jan. 13 at 9 p.m.; Jan. 14 at 9 p.m.
A dealer meets a client through the lens of angry/loving punk rock music.
"Chimera"(New York) Jan 13 at 7 p.m. & 10:30 p.m.; Jan. 14 at 7 p.m. & 10:30 p.m.; Jan. 15 at 7 p.m.
A woman discovers that through the mysteries of science, she is her own twin.
"THE BEE"(Japan) Jan. 13 at 7:45 p.m.; Jan. 14 at 7 p.m.; Jan. 15 at 2:30 p.m.
A nightmarish Manga comic book comes to life.
"Hot Pepper, Air Conditioner and The Farewell Speech"
(Japan) Jan. 13 at 8 p.m.; Jan. 14 at 9 p.m.
Three humorously absurd scenes exploring Gen Y in Japan.
Unable to make it? The Gob Squad Art Collective (Germany/U.K.) closed its run of "Super Night Shot" on Jan. 8, but The Public Theater will be presenting the troupe's other piece, "Kitchen: You've Never Had It So Good" from Jan. 19 to Feb. 5. Learn more at www.undertheradarfestival.com