Just Do Art: Week of June 29, 2017 - Manhattan Express | Manhattan Express

Just Do Art: Week of June 29, 2017

Anwen Darcy as Helena and Michael William Bernstein as Parolles, in “All’s Well That Ends Well” — playing July 6-22 in a Lower East Side parking lot. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARKING LOT | From raccoons to rain to birds to loony Trump supporters, the Public Theater will tell you that interruptions come with the territory when your Bard is based in an al fresco setting. But the unpredictable hijinks that have been known to play out in the comparatively cushy Delacorte Theater during Shakespeare in the Park seem downright tame compared to the pedigree of distractions that are par for the course for the hearty thespians of The Drilling Company. A summertime staple since 2001, the troupe’s cheekily named Shakespeare in the Parking Lot series has seen every manner of colorful Lower East Side life (honking horns, vocal passersby) make a bid for supporting player status.

 Undaunted, they will most certainly soldier on through two upcoming productions, the first of which is “All’s Well That Ends Well” — whose comedic moments are, the Company notes, “interlaced with gut-wrenching pathos, causing it to be labeled one of Shakespeare’s ‘problem plays.’ ” Director Karla Hendrick calls this case of a famous French physician’s daughter in love with a man below her rank a story of “two young people united through diverse journeys through despair and darkness.” Darker still is where Hendrick stages the action: southeastern France circa World War II, just before (shades of our political present!) fascists overtake the great nation.

Free. At La Plaza @ The Clemente Parking Lot (114 Norfolk St.; E. side of Norfolk St., btw. Delancey & Rivington Sts.). “All’s Well That Ends Well” runs July 6-22 and “Henry the Sixth Part Three” (helmed by Hamilton Clancy) runs July 27-Aug. 12. Shows are performed Thurs.–Sat., 7pm. Seats available on a first come first served basis; blankets spread out once seats are gone (you can bring your own chair). Visit shakespeareintheparkinglot.com.

Soulpepper’s much-awarded “Of Human Bondage” stage adaptation plays July 1-26. Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.

SOULPEPPER THEATRE COMPANY | Despite their clean streets, extreme politeness, and stellar reading comprehension skills, our neighbors to the north have never made a national sport out of rubbing our noses in it (a moot point when you’re so damn good at hockey). They’ve even taken the high road by not pointing out the fact that many fine Americans are, or at least were, Canadians (see: Alanis Morissette, Ryan Gosling, Pat Kiernan). Now, add 65 members of Toronto-based Soulpepper Theatre Company to the list of impressive imports. Their month-long Off-Broadway residency at The Pershing Square Signature Center will take over all five stages to present 11 plays, musicals, and concerts.

Two works of distinction begin their run on the second day of the month: Soulpepper’s “highly theatrical” adaptation of the 1915 W. Somerset Maugham novel “Of Human Bondage” is the most-awarded show in Toronto history, having garnered a slew of “Canadian Tony” (aka Dora) awards, including Best Play, Best Ensemble, and design nods for its set, sound, and lighting. “Kim’s Convenience” (the “most successful Canadian play of the last decade”) looks at Canada’s immigrant community through the lens of a multigenerational, family-run Korean variety store.

Soulpepper founding member Diego Matamoros in “Cage,” July 12-16. Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.

Elsewhere on the schedule, Soulpepper founding member Diego Matamoros is among the trio who uses the ideas (and last name!) of John Cage for “Cage” — a meditation on time, space, and memory that manages to work Zen Buddhism and apes into the mix. The musical “Alligator Pie” is performed (and was created) by those who grew up grooving to the rhymes of Dennis Lee (“Canada’s Father Goose,” he’s better known in these parts as lyricist for Jim Henson’s much-loved “Fraggle Rock”).

Finally, at least as far as this roundup is concerned, a trio of concerts: “True North” acknowledges Canada’s 150th birthday with a collection of songs that speak to the country’s national character. “The Secret Chord” is a tribute to the late Leonard Cohen (yet another Canadian of distinction), and “The Melting Pot” looks at immigrant cultures that planted their feet in Manhattan and proceeded to create the soundtrack of the 20th century.

July 1-29 at The Pershing Square Signature Center (480 W. 42nd St., btw. 10th & 11th Aves.). For tickets ($25-$80), call 888-898-1188 or visit soulpepper.org.

–BY SCOTT STIFFLER

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