Just Do Art!


By Scott Stiffler


Child of a middle class New Jersey home? Poet and playwright? NPR host? It could only be proverbial fish out of water Al Letson, who can add “solo show writer/performer” to his list of outlaw/outcast credentials. That show — “Summer in Sanctuary” — chronicles Letson’s time spent working as a camp counselor and writer-in-residence at the Sanctuary on 8th Street (a community center in an underserved neighborhood in Jacksonville, Florida). “Summer” arrives in NYC after premiering in Baltimore at the Theatre Project (after which Letson continued to perform the show around the county). Through April 17, at the Dorothy Strelsin Theatre (312 W 36th St., btw. 8th & 9th Ave.). Wed./Thurs. at 7pm; Fri./Sat. at 8pm; Sun. at 2pm. For tickets ($25, call 212.868.2055.


The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation casts its springtime gaze on a few green matters meant to get your grey matter going. “Parks, Plants, and People: Beautifying the Urban Landscape” is a lecture by Lynden B. Miller — internationally renowned public garden designer and Director of the Conservatory Garden in Central Park. This talk draws on her 29 years of experience creating green spaces to make the case that that public open spaces with good plantings can change city life by providing a connection with nature. Tues., April 5, 6:30-8:30pm at the Westbeth Community Room (155 Bank Street (between West & Washington Sts.). Free; reservations required. Call 212-475-9585 or visit gvshp.org

“Buildings that Grow:

An Introduction to Green Roofs” is a lecture by Amy Norquist of Greensulate (President and CEO of the green roof design & engineering firm Greensulate). She’ll present the basics on green roofs; what they are, how they’re created and what their environmental and economic benefits are. Mon,, April 11, 6:30-8:00pm at Judson Memorial Church (239 Thompson St., at Washington Sq. South). Free; reservations required. Call 212-475-9585 or visit gvshp.org

“Community Documentaries:

‘The Vanishing City’ & ‘Twilight Becomes Night’ ” — co-sponsored by Film Forum — screens these two provocative documentaries which examine the role of neighborhood stores and the politics behind the disappearance of neighborhood identity. The 90-minute screening will be followed by a Q&A with the directors of “The Vanishing City” — Fiore DeRosa and Jen Senko. Proceeds from this event will benefit GVSHP and the independent filmmakers of The Vanishing City. Mon., April 25, 6:00-8:00pm at Film Forum (209 W. Houston St., btw. 6th & 7th Aves.). GVSHP members, Film Forum members, students, seniors: $5. All others: $10. For info, visit gvshp.org


An undead bluesman croons a mournful tune amidst bayou decay while keeping his gun trained on trespassers; a flim-flam man and his partner breeze into a respectful Connecticut town with a violent but artistically gifted Apeman in tow; a leisure-suited crooner strums the ukulele during intermission; and an accordion-wielding gypsy divines your future by peering into her mystic bowl of spaghetti. Oh, you’ll get all of this — and a little more — when you witness the sick and silly spectacle that is “Trav S.D.’s Tent Show Tetragrammaton.” This dark and funny collection of short plays plunges its audience down a dirty coal shoot which leads to a sooty pit where themes of identity and transformation marinate pulpy takes on American folk tales (whose twist endings will leave a bitter but satisfying taste in your mouth). Full disclosure: The damaged brain behind this production, Trav S.D., is a good friend of this publication (and author of a monthly column on Downtown theater). Nevertheless, we’d tell you if the show wasn’t worth your time (which it is). Become a believer by seeing for yourself — and by evening’s end, you’ll either be sold on Mr. S.D.’s talent as a playwright/performer or entirely enraged that he’s failed to live up to his own lofty standards. Either way, in the spirit of the show’s traveling carnival aesthetic, there will be no refunds. This Way to the Egress! Through April 3 (Thurs.-Sat., 7:30pm; Sun., 2:30pm). At La MaMa (74A E. Fourth St., btw. Bowery & Second Ave.). For tickets ($18; $13 for student/seniors), call 212-475-7710 or visit www.lamama.org. Also visit travsd.wordpress.com.


The “Concert for Japan” offers 12 Hours of music and special activities — all for the benefit of Japan Society’s Japan Earthquake Relief Fund. Proceeds and tax-deductible contributions made on site will go to organizations that directly help victims recover from the devastating effects of the earthquake and tsunamis that struck Japan on March 11.  Composer and musician Ryuichi Sakamoto, Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson and NY-based Japanese female-led bands Hard Nips, The Suzan, Echostream and Me & Mars are among those who will perform. The benefit will also offer many events and activities originally slated as part of “j-CATION: Beyond Cute” — the second annual daylong open house festival previously announced for Sat., April 9. Those activities include making origami cranes and washi lanterns for good wishes and recovery, basic Japanese language lessons and unlimited access to “Bye Bye Kitty!!! Between Heaven & Hell in Contemporary Japanese Art” — Japan Society’s current gallery exhibition.

Sat., April 9 from 11am-11pm at Japan Society (333 E.47th St. btw. First& Second Aves.) All proceeds go to the Japan Earthquake Relief Fund. Can’t make it to this event? Japan Society will give half of all ticket and admission sales made through June 30 from all events to the fund. To donate to the fund, go to japansociety.org/earthquake — or a check to Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street, New York, New York 10017; Attn: Japan Earthquake Relief Fund. Checks should be made payable to Japan Society and indicate “Japan Earthquake Relief Fund” on the check. For a full roster of performers, and a schedule, call 212-832-1155 or visit japansociety.org/concertforjapan