Just Do Art: Week of May 5, 2016
LETTERS TO SALA | Having survived seven Nazi forced-labor camps from 1941 to 1945, all while keeping a diary and preserving hundreds of letters and photos, Polish teenager Sala Garncarz settled in New York City with those materials, then proved equally adept at hiding the trove, and her experiences, from those she was closest to. Once discovered, daughter Ann Kirschner told the story of a mother’s instinct to protect, in the memoir “Sala’s Gift: My Mother’s Holocaust Story.” Playwright Arlene Hutton’s adaptation, “Letters to Sala,” had an Off-Broadway run in 2015. Now, much of that cast reunites for two performances only — an 80-minute concert presentation that communicates the essence of how the atrocities of the Holocaust can affect, and even divide, successive generations.
Sun., May 15, at 12pm & 3:30pm, at the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust (36 Battery Place). Tickets are $20, $15 for Museum members and students (valid ID required), and $10 for children (for ages 10+). To purchase individual or group tickets, call 646-437-4202 or visit mjhnyc.org/calendar. Also visit letterstosalany.com.
REVEREND BILLY AND THE STOP SHOPPING CHOIR | Be ye hardline atheist, open-minded agnostic, or one of unshakable faith — it’s hard not to join the chorus of believers, when the sermons preached by the left-leaning, right righteous Reverend Billy and the songs belted out by The Stop Shopping Choir posit the notion that Mother Earth is speaking to us directly when flood waters rise, species disappear, and man turns on his own in the name of turning a profit. Two new works by this troupe of performance art activists, known for bringing down the house in concert and ending up in the Big House after social justice skirmishes, provide unique windows into their creative process and political evolution.
In his new book — “The Earth Wants YOU” — Reverend Billy reconstructs how he and his followers went from confronting mindless consumerism in the aisles of the (now-shuttered) Times Square Disney Store to shouting “Hands Up! Don’t Shop!” in a Walmart near Ferguson, MO. Along the way, there are Choir-powered theatrics in the lobby of a Midtown bank, in the shadow of the Spectra pipeline, and alongside Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter protesters.
Budding activists and armchair anthropologists will find much to chew on in this slim but potent tome — which is especially effective when exploring the backstage mechanics of wearing a paper mache Golden Toad head, sticking it to Monsanto, and mounting an eco-themed Passion Play on the banks of the Hudson. Although Reverend Billy certainly draws back the curtain, he doesn’t lift the veil all the way, thus creating in print the same disorienting, confrontational, call-to-action gut punch you get in stage and street theater form. No less nuanced, but much more consistently danceable, is the book’s companion CD, which features 11 new and stage-tested “punk gospel” songs from The Stop Shopping Choir — including “Fabulous Bad Weather,” “We are the 99%” and “Shopocalypse.”
Backed by The Fiery Eagles of Justice, Reverend Billy delivers a free-form sermon (with select performances from The Stop Shopping Choir) at Joe’s Pub (45 Lafayette St., at Astor Pl.) on Tues., May 10, at 9:30pm. For tickets ($12, plus $12 food or two-drink minimum), visit joespub.publictheater.org or call 212-967-7555 (the price of the ticket is $10 with discount code “Earthalujah”). Reverend Billy will do a solo reading on Tues., May 17, 7pm, at Community Bookstore (143 Seventh Ave., Park Slope, Brooklyn). Free admission. Visit revbilly.com and communitybookstore.net.
PEN PARENTIS SEASON CLOSER: “HEAVY HITTERS” | School’s almost out for the summer — so before the kids become a daytime presence (and a potentially distracting one at that), Pen Parentis is wrapping up their Literary Salon season with an evening of mandatory schmoozing and optional boozing sure to inspire parents to remain prolific writers during those months when the juice box set rules the home front. Emerging author (and, of course, parent) Marika Alzadon will read from her work, alongside notable authors Anjali Mitter Duva and Rick Moody. Then, the trio will engage the audience in a discussion about how they use fiction to explore big ideas (hence the “Heavy Hitters” theme). The Salon returns on September 13, with featured authors Simon Van Booy, Daphne Uviller and Thelma Adams, joined by the 2016-2017 Pen Parentis Fellowship winner.
Tues., May 10, 7pm at Andaz Wall St. (75 Wall St.). Free and open to the public; 21+ only. RSVP strongly suggested, via penparentis.org/calendar.
–BY SCOTT STIFFLER