Just Do Art!

Alpha Omega Theatrical Dance tears it up. See “FAB! Festival.” Photo by Jamie Newman Photography

An abbreviation for “Fourth Arts Block” or just a more efficient way to say “fabulous?” Why can’t it be a little bit of both? “FAB!” lives up to the promise of its name and then some, with their annual “FAB! Festival” — a daylong celebration of creative expression from the artistic entities that occupy Manhattan’s only official cultural district. In that one short block (East 4 Street, between Lafayette and Second Ave.), you’ll find a dozen theaters, eight dance/rehearsal studios, three film editing suites and a large screening room. But they’re just getting started. Over the next two years, nearly 40,000 square feet of space on the block will be reclaimed for cultural use. Within 10 years, that number will climb to 145,000 square feet. At that point, they’ll probably have to add another day or two to this fab little fest. But for now, here’s a partial list of the dance, theater and music you’ll find on multiple stages:

Once again, Alpha Omega Theatrical Dance opens the FAB! Festival fierce modern dance from choreographer Enrique Cruz DeJesus (accompanied by hot Latin beats and warm R&B rhythms from the elegantly funky SoulJaazz Band). On the Cabaret State, artists from Nuyorican Poets Café offer the best of their spoken word, and an excerpt from the new play Felony in Blue. Other outdoor performers include Bang Dance, Dixon Place, Downtown Art, JT Lotus Dance Company, La MaMa, Li Chiao-Ping Dance, The Living Theatre, Metropolitan Playhouse, New York Neo-Futurists and Rod Rodgers Dance Company.

At La MaMa E.T.C. — The Club, “Plays, Plays and More Plays!” delivers a glimpse of Off-Off Broadway, by way of a one-hour review of, well, plays, plays and more plays! Elsewhere indoors, “WOW! Wow Cabaret” features performers from WOW Café Theatre (the country’s oldest women and trans folks’ theater collective). To reserve a seat, visit fabnyc.fabfestival.org.

At The New York Theatre Workshop rehearsal space, take part in the classes Introduction to Feldenkrais and Awareness Through Movement —taught by Annie Rudnick. Other classes include Hatha Yoga, Writing & Performing Your Story: An introduction in Neo-Futurism for Seniors. For info, visit fabnyc.fabfestival.org.

On the street all afternoon: Materials For The Arts encourages you to create your own mixed medium art pieces — with reusable materials. For more info, mfta.org. “Get Your Pickle On!” is sponsored by The 4th Street Food Co-op and the Biocitizen school of environmental philosophy. Thrill to “spine-tingling high-wire lacto-acidophilus fermentation demonstrations,” then learn how to pickle the old fashioned way (in front of the 4th Street Food Co-op, 58 E. 4th St., btw. Bowery & 2nd Ave.). If eating without the act of creating is more your thing, stop by the Mexicue Food Truck, the artist-run food cart appropriately known as “The Cart,” as well as the vendor locations of Bugsella, The Chocolate Swirl, Granola Lab, MissWit, P&H Sodas, La Sirena, Vspot, and many more.

“FAB! Festival is a free event. It takes place Sat., Sept. 24, 1-5pm (on E. 4 St., btw. Bowery & 2nd Ave.). For info, visit fabnyc.org.


Prolific enemies of the past who don’t spend a second resting on their laurels, the NY Neo-Futurists’ newest work takes the “eloquent yet obsessive and often controlling” stage directions from Eugene O’ Neill plays and turns them into fast-paced physical comedy. The long title of that play is, in fact, a short way of saying the Futurists draw from the beginning career, and obscure writings, of a Broadway darling who was once “considered an experimental, Downtown playwright…His plays defied the melodramatic conventions of the day and much of his work premiered with the Provincetown Players on MacDougall Street.” Welcome back! Through Oct. 1, 8pm, at The Kraine Theatre (85 E. 4th Street, btw. 2nd Ave. & Bowery). For tickets ($18, $12 for students), call 866-811-4111 or visit nynf.org.

Like a cool breeze that comes with the change in seasons, we’ve come to anticipate the Lower East Side Tenement Museum’s “Tenement Talks” series with all the good things that happen when summer turns to fall. This imaginatively curated series of discussions and readings — meant to illuminate New York City’s culture, history and people — has returned after a July/August hiatus. Here’s what’s on the September calendar:

Thurs., Sept. 22, 6:30pm: In conversation with Algonquin editor and publisher Elisabeth Scharlatt, Ilene Beckerman discusses her book “The Smartest Woman I Know.” It’s the story Gingy — a grandmother who dispensed unforgettable wisdom to Gingy and her sister, Tootsie, as well as to the customers at a stationery and magazine store. Those customers ranged from Irish nannies to Sara Delano Roosevelt to Marlene Dietrich. For info on the author, visit ilenebeckerman.com.

Tues., Sept. 27, 6:30pm: Meet, greet, listen to and question author Sam Wasson. His “Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman” is an encyclopedic account of the making of 1961’s “Breakfast” — which, thanks to that little black dress, made Hepburn into an icon. For info on the author, visit samwasson.com.

Wed., Sept. 28, 6:30pm: “Amore: The Story of Italian American Song” is Mark Rotella’s celebration of the “Italian decade” (the years after the World War II, but before the Beatles — when Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Dean Martin and others dominated the charts. For info on the author, visit markrotella.com.

All events take place at the Tenement Museum Visitor Center and Museum Shop (103 Orchard St., at Delancey). Admission is free, and seating is available on a first-come, first-serve basis (purchase a copy of the featured book by calling 212-431-0233 ext. 259, and a seat is guaranteed). For info, tenement.org. For Twitter: twitter.com/tenementmuseum. Visit their blog: tenement-museum.blogspot.com.

Japan Society launches its Fall 2011/Spring 2012 Performing Arts Season with a North American premiere — the Shizuoka Performing Arts Center production of “Medea.” Satoshi Miyagi (celebrated Artistic Director of SPAC and successor to the legendary Tadashi Suzuki) brings the scale and visual scope of a kabuki play to the Euripides masterpiece by transforming it into a play-within-a play takes place in a traditional Japanese restaurant. As male members of the establishment call upon female waitresses for entertainment, late Meiji era gender-based tensions bubble to the surface. Live music as well as Miyagi’s signature bunraku puppet theater-inspired style (utilizing two actors per role — one to speak and one to move), puts a uniquely Japanese cultural spin on the classic Greek tragedy. Since its premiere in 1999, the production (featuring a cast of 19) has appeared in 20 cities and 11 countries. Performed in Japanese with English subtitles. Fri., Sept. 23 and Sat., Sept. 24 at 7:30pm. Sun., Sept. 25 at 5pm. At Japan Society (333 E. 47th St., btw. First and Second Aves.). For tickets ($32), call 212-832-1155 or visit japansociety.org. Also visit spac.or.jp.

Although it’s not a very tough argument to win, ArtQuilt Gallery•NYC has been making the case for quilting’s aesthetic and cultural credibility within the NYC art scene since its debut in April (with Daphne Taylor’s “Quilt Drawings”), Their current exhibit — Carol Taylor’s Explosions in Color” — opens the commercial gallery’s fall season with a collection of dynamic (at times, hypnotic) quilting and embroidery from artist Carol Taylor. The season continues of Nov. 15, with “Material Witnesses: New Work from the Manhattan Quilters Guild” — featuring 22 quilts by the 22 members of the 31-year-old NYC-based Manhattan Quilters Guild. But for now, the spotlight shines on Taylor. Catch “Explosions in Color” through Oct. 29, at The ArtQuilt Gallery•NYC (133 W. 25th St., btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves.). Gallery Hours: Tues.-Sat., 11am-6pm (other times by appointment). For info, call 212-807-9451 or visit artquiltgallerynyc.com.