Just Do Art, Nov. 14, 2013

Westbeth hosts three tales, twice told by Penny’s Puppets (11am & 3pm, Nov. 24).  PHOTO COURTESY OF PENNY & THE PUPPETS
Westbeth hosts three tales, twice told by Penny’s Puppets (11am & 3pm, Nov. 24). PHOTO COURTESY OF PENNY & THE PUPPETS

No storm is super enough to pull the strings of Penny Jones and Co. Puppets. “When our season was hitting its stride,” recalls Jones, “We got nine feet of water in the basement, no electricity, heat, water, elevator, stove, telephone, Internet, laundry. We had to cancel all 2012 shows after Sandy. Our performing space here [at Westbeth] was being used for informational tenant meetings.” Services returned gradually, and kind words poured in almost immediately. “We need you guys performing again,” read a typical email. Like their Village host space, Jones and Co. bounced back — and on November 24, they’ll be back at Westbeth, with the same sort of stories, songs, games and audience participation that won the company’s Early Childhood Puppet Theatre a Jim Henson Foundation Family Grant. Stage managed by Mother Goose’s dog Toby, Penny’s cast of handmade puppets will tell the tales of The Three Bears, The Three Bill Goats Gruff and Little Red Riding Hood — with a few silly Mother Goose rhymes thrown into the fast and funny mix.

Sun., Nov. 24, at 11am & 3pm. At the Westbeth Community Room (155 Bank St., btw. Washington & West Sts.). Admission: $5. For more info, visit pennypuppets.org or call 212-924-0525. 

John Rose and Christina Campanella in “BOTCH: A Broken Word Opera” — at HERE, through Nov. 23.  PHOTO BY STEVEN SCHREIBER
John Rose and Christina Campanella in “BOTCH: A Broken Word Opera” — at HERE, through Nov. 23. PHOTO BY STEVEN SCHREIBER

HERE’s 2013-2014 season opens with this ambitious fusion of experimental music, visual installation and live performance by composer, director and designer Joe Diebes — who will mix sound for his “broken word opera” live on stage throughout the show. Described as “more of a processing system than a traditional score,” the action in “Botch” unfolds as the audience watches the libretto scroll on a telepromopter whose stream-of-consciousness content flows from text written by the ensemble. That text will change each night, as the cast of four become improvisational code writers — cutting, pasting, reversing and generally pulverize language, all in the service of exploring “the voice and its mutations in contemporary digital culture.” Hand signals, and a chalkboard diagram created on the floor in close proximity to the audience, put additional layers of human touch onto this exploration of electronic multitasking — a state, say the creators, where “sending and receiving messages trumps all else.”

Through Nov. 23. Tues-Sat. at 7pm (no performance Nov. 21, additional performances Nov. 22 at 10:30pm & Nov. 23 at 7pm). At HERE (145 Sixth Ave., just below Spring St.). For tickets ($20), call 212-352-3101, visit here.org or the Box Office (5pm until curtain on show days).

Tribeca’s 50,000-volume-strong literary center — Poets House — has partnered with the NYC cultural heritage non-profit City Lore and the NYC/France artistic collaborative NY’OC Trobadors for this landmark symposium. Poets, artists and scholars will share their perspectives on the history of Occitania (a region encompassing the southern half of France, the Occitan Valleys in the Italian Alps and the Aran Valley in the Spanish Pyrenees). Performers bring musical life to the “lyrical, secular, and often subversive verse-commentary on the culture, politics, and love affairs” of the region’s 11th century trobadors and trobairitz — whose influence can be traced to contemporary American artists such as Joan Baez and Bob Dylan. It’s not all words and music, though. An overview of Occitan cuisine will be provided, in a reservation-only Gascon Buffet created by foodie favorite Ariane Daguin (owner of D’Artagnan). That dinner is preceded by 2pm’s “Topologies of Occitan Language & Culture” and 4:30pm’s “Occitan Literature Through the Ages.” The evening culminates in a music and poetry performance featuring bicontinental artists Joan Francés Tisnèr, Jakes Aymonino, Domenja Lekuona, Pierre Joris and Nicole Peyrafitte.

Sat., Nov. 23, from 2-9pm. At Poets House (10 River Terrace, at Murray St.). For tickets ($10, $7 for students/seniors), visit poetshouse.org. Reservations for the 5:30-7pm dinner ($25, includes evening performance) are required. Contact Joe at 212-431-7920 x12832 or joe@poetshouse.org. Also visit citylore.org.