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BY SCOTT STIFFLER | Like the noonday sun bearing down on a treat from the Mister Softee truck, time has been melting away the New Ohio Theatre’s Ice Factory Festival — its annual summertime showcase, where emerging and established companies develop their work. Of the six featured Ice Factory productions, three remain.
Through July 19, Live Source, a group of theatre and film artists, brings their highly stylized performance method to “The Incredible Fox Sisters.” Based on a true story that remains clouded by fantastic claims and multiple recantations, the controversy begins in Hydesville, NY, circa 1888 — when two sisters convince their older sibling (then the town, then the nation) that they can commune with the dead. “There is quite a market for strangeness these days,” says a doctor (and budding tour manager) who’s more P.T. Barnum than altruistic M.D. The two younger sisters became the darlings of America’s budding spiritualism movement — and perhaps the first casualties of reality star culture. Eventually revealed as hoaxters, they both died soon after (one from alcoholism).
The clock is ticking on New Ohio’s Ice Factory Festival
Like the sisters’ alleged parlor tricks, the script (by Jaclyn Backhaus) takes liberties with the truth — and in doing so, adds an effective layer of complexity to the uneasy sibling dynamic and the enduring question of whether paranormal forces were at work alongside good old-fashioned greed. No matter the nature of their power, Live Source’s version of the Fox sisters are effective mediums for examining the ease with which we permit ourselves to believe when there’s money, power, or peace of mind to be gained. Visit Live-Source.org for more info.
THE NEW OHIO THEATRE’S ICE | FACTORY FESTIVAL
Through August 2
Wed. – Sat. at 7 p.m.
At the New Ohio Theatre
154 Christopher St.
Btw. Greenwich & Washington Sts.
Tickets: $18, $15 for students, seniors
Call 888-596-1027 or visit NewOhioTheatre.org
From July 23 – 26, the Asian American theater company Second Generation Productions (2g.org) presents “Galois” — and although they’ve only made a synopsis available to the press, the stamp of Sung Rno on this production gives it a sight-unseen vote of confidence. Rno, after all, was the man behind “Yi Sang Counts to Thirteen” — the 2001 FringeNYC Excellence for Overall Production award-winner that took a self-described “mathematical-theoretical” approach to the waking world love triangle and the inner life of Korean surrealist writer Yi Sang. In his latest project, Rno once again contemplates the intersection of doomed relationships, art, and politics — as lived by a brilliant-but-unappreciated man who died young (Yi Sang succumbed to tuberculosis at 27, while in a Tokyo jail cell, and the title character of this new work met his doom at 21).
Expanding upon the life of mathematician Evariste Galois (1811-1832), Rno elevates the “genius of abstraction” to rock star status, by melding the music of Aaron Jones with his own book and lyrics. The result is a “rock & roll expression” of “contradictory passions.” Locked in conflict with teachers unable to understand and unwilling to nurture his exceptional talents, Galois meets Stephanie at a gathering of Parisian student radicals (“they both like explosions and singing,” the synopsis declares). A botched entrance exam to the premiere science school in France, participation in street riots, and a stint in jail are followed by a duel insisted upon by Galois (to avenge a perceived insult to Stephanie’s honor). Just before that fateful exchange of gunfire in a field outside of 1830s Paris, the mad/brilliant young man secures his legacy by putting down on paper the theory of Galois groups — alternately baffling and fascinating algebra students for years to come.
Untimely death is played for kicks — and often done with karate chops — in the Ice Factory Festival’s final entry (July 30 – Aug. 2). It’s a currently untitled offering from writer Qui Nguyen and director Robert Ross Parker, the prolific brains behind Vampire Cowboys. The once-scrappy, now-iconic troupe has earned their cult following by bringing comic book, grindhouse, sci-fi, and horror sensibilities to their pulpy tales of everyday people thrust into supernatural quests. It’s hardcore nerdcore, yes — but you don’t necessarily have to drool over vampires, werewolves, zombies, high-stakes stage combat, and profane puppetry to enjoy the ride.
Camp with consequence is what they do best. The deaths (often accompanied by dismemberment and gore) earn a laugh from the audience, yet still manage to take a lasting, emotional toll on the surviving characters. There’ll be no time for tears for the chosen one from this new project. Set in a utopian future, Vampire Cowboys’ “sacrilegious action-adventure play” compels a young lady in possession of extraordinary powers to murder those who would usher in hell on earth. Yikes! Visit vampirecowboys.org, where you won’t find any further details on their latest bloody slugfest — but you will get a very good primer on what to expect, based on past productions.