It's time once again for the Under the Radar Festival, arguably the most electrifying theatrical event of the year. Curated by former P.S. 122 director Mark Russell, the international festival features 12 days and nights of genre-busting productions from across the globe. It starts January 4th at The Public Theater and other downtown venues, continuing through the 15th, with 16 shows from nine countries. Last week we spoke to Russell about what's on his Radar this year, and asked him what some of the common themes he's seen emerging in experimental theater during the past year.
"One is this sort of musical thread of concert theater, rock and roll theater," says Russell. "And the other is revolution and resistance and more political theater. It's in the zeitgeist. You know, a lot of young artists are thinking about the powers that be, and how to construct a new world. And that leads to things that some people might call political, but it's not didactic politics. You know, when I hear the words 'political theater,' I run in the other direction. This is humorous, it's engaging, it's scary, and no one is getting beaten over the head with 'Republicans are bad' or something of that sort."
Asked what he'd recommend for theatergoers who might not have seem much "experimental" theater, Russell told us, "Well, don't be afraid of dipping your toe into the experimental theater world. It's just good theater, and these artists go about making theater in different ways so that they can reach people. That's one of my primary goals: to demystify this sort of downtown theater thing. I have people coming to me going, 'Oh am I dressed right for being downtown?' It doesn't matter! You know, you don't have to dress in black to enjoy the Under the Radar Festival."
Click on the photos here for Russell's thoughts on each of the productions he hand-picked for this year's festival, and buy tickets here. They cost $20 each, which is a bargain considering, as Russell says, "There's going to be theater you can dance to, theater with lots of fire, there'll be cardboard puppets, and there'll be angels dropping down from heaven."