Alan Berg was a Denver talk radio host with extremely liberal views and a brash, confrontational style. His life ended abruptly in 1984, when he was fatally shot in his driveway by two members of a white supremacy group. His story inspired a book, movies and a Pulitzer-nominated play by Eric Bogosian, entitled “Talk Radio.” The theatrical stage show is set in the studio of Cleveland’s WTLK Radio over the course of a two-hour broadcast led by Barry Champlain. The shock jock verbally jousts with his unseen callers, ranging from a white supremacist to a woman who is obsessed with her garbage disposal. Meanwhile, the provoking protagonist is being scrutinized by his coffee- and cocaine-fueled producers, who dream of taking the program to a national audience. Champlain also has some funny interactions with his on-again-off-again girlfriend/producer and a former deejay.
With a talent-rich cast, Talk Radio begins a 16-show run at The Chain Theatre, a two-story black box events venue in Long island City, on September 12th. The show goes on thanks to a partnership with the Variations Theatre Group, an independent company of collaborating artists who aim to produce intellectually engaging, muscular drama.
Details: Talk Radio, The Chain Theatre, 21-28 45th Road, Long Island City, September 12th through September 27th, dates and times vary, but most shows start at 8 pm and a few weekend performances begin at 2 pm, $18 general admission.
It’s July 20, 2011, and the African nation Malawi is engulfed in riots that force two U.S. aid workers to hide in the storage room of a non-governmental organization. On the same day about 7,000 miles away, a Malawi native and his gay co-worker begin just another workday at a flower shop in Manhattan’s Chelsea. These two stories are staged simultaneously in the new J. Stephen Brantley play PIRIRA, which is showing in-the-round in an intimate, 60-seat space at the Chain Theatre. And by the end of the 70-minute drama — which opens tonight and runs through November 10th — the characters and the audience discover their lives are inextricably linked across continents, language and time.
Boogie Woogie is a piano-based form of the blues based largely on improvisation that rose to popularity in the 1930s. Boogie Stomp is a documentary exploring how the basic elements of this genre paved the way for other distinctly American musical styles such as jazz, swing and R&B. It focuses on (arguably) the two greatest living players — Bob Seeley and Bob Baldori (above) — with countless clips of studio performances, interviews, foot-stomping concerts and tour footage. Boogie Stomp is also one of 76 movies that will screen between Aug. 6 and Aug. 18 during the Chain NYC Film Festival in Long Island City. Attendees can expect everything from feature-length films to short documentaries made as far away as India and Australia and as nearby as, well, Long Island City. Plus, many of the filmmakers will attend the screenings of their works to meet and chat with the audiences.
Details: Chain NYC Film Festival, Chain Theatre, 21-28 45th Rd., LIC, Aug. 6-18, times vary.
Venus and Mona are twins. They are also young, strong, hard-edged…and trapped on the roof of their mother’s mobile home. Although their mother is at death’s door, the sisters wage war on one another while a demon circles the trailer, hoping that one of the combatants will slip and fall into his clutches. This play, which runs until March 30, is part of Variations Theatre Group‘s first season at the newly opened Chain Theatre. Venus and Mona also marks the first production to come out of the Minor Variations Project, which brings a second life to a play by taking an already realized work and through collaboration between the playwright and actors, retools the piece.
There’s excitement in beginnings — especially when they involve Queens and Marilyn Monroe. After producing plays and festivals in Manhattan, Variations Theatre Group has seen the light and created a multi-discipline performing arts center in the former US Chain Factory in Long Island City. On January 17, The Chain Theatre opens with After The Fall, written by prolific playwright Arthur Miller. Though it hasn’t been performed as much as Miller’s magnum opus Death of a Salesman, After The Fall is regarded as the New York City native’s most autobiographical work, intimately exploring his failed marriage to Marilyn Monroe and her suicide. With dark undertones, this drama deals with a grieving man’s tortured thoughts.
After The Fall
The Chain Theatre
21-28 45th Rd., Long Island City
Thursday, January 17, through Saturday, February 2
7pm – 9pm with 2 pm shows on weekends | $18