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Magnificent Opening Night

By Nick Fracaro at 5:28 pm on Thursday, December 2, 2010

To use the adjective of our playwright/director, our most talented actress was luminous last night.

We also received today some kind words and lurid expectations of What She Knew from the impresario extraordinaire himself, Trav S. D., in the current issue of  The Villager.

I am luridly expectant at the prospect of seeing “What She Knew” — playwright and critic George Hunka’s retelling of “Oedipus Rex” from Jocasta’s point of view. In this production, the “First of the Red Hot Mamas” will be played by Gabriele Schafer. Schafer is best known as one half of the company Thieves Theatre, which she ran for many years with her husband Nick Fracaro, and was most notorious for a theatre piece they did in the early 90s in which they lived in a teepee at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge for several months. More recently, I saw Schafer play both Hamlet’s father and mother in a Butoh-influenced version of the Shakespeare play (“Q1: The Bad Hamlet” — produced by New World Theatre). The hair-raising performances I saw makes me to think there couldn’t be a better person to do an “erotically transgressive” one-woman show about Oedipus’s mother. The production is under the rubric of Hunka’s company, Theatre Minima, and will be playing at Manhattan Theatre Source, December 1-11. For more info:

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Reseating Perspective

By Nick Fracaro at 5:32 pm on Tuesday, November 30, 2010

It’s been my privilege to work with playwright/director George Hunka, performer Gabriele Schafer, and the other designers on theatre minima’s debut production of What She Knew. George, Gabriele and I had an especially rewarding collaboration.  We began working on it together in a reading back in February.  I am quite proud of my contribution to the nuanced, commanding performance and production of a vital theatre text.

The mise en scene suggested in the script is minimal: White cyclorama, without entrance or exit. So white curtains curve along the walls of the small stage at manhattan theatre source.

The lone set piece created by artist Russell Busch is very distinctive, so particular in design that Gabriele felt she needed it for her home rehearsals. So for the past week, I have been carting it back and forth to the theater. Yesterday, after parking the car, “the chair” and I waited on the sidewalk for someone to open the door to the theater.   Almost every passerby had a smile or comment.

“Ha! Weird!” “How do you sit on that thing?” “Ha! Funny.”  “What do you use that for?”  “Ha! Cool.”   “Is it for sale?”

It’s as if the object’s original function as chair(s) has been decommissioned, subverted by the fusion of the two into one. The imagination of the viewer is challenged to invent some new utility for the object.  Weird, funny, and cool – this breakdown and reassembly of function – this “reseating” of perspective and meaning.

George Hunka’s What She Knew is a retelling of the Oedipus story imagined from the perspective of the mother/lover Jocasta. Like many of the classic Greek tales, the story of Oedipus Rex is a tragedy that befalls members of a royal family.

Nothing in a home speaks to the notion of family quite like the dining room table and its set of chairs.  Chairs function both individually and collectively as a set.  Arranged symmetrically around the table, the chairs are reflective of the hierarchy within the family structure.   The head of the table is often designated with a chair that is different than rest.  More expansive or ornate, the head chair is usually constructed with armrests, asserting its prominence among the others.  Throne-like, because the family’s hierarchy mirrors the kingdom or whatever larger social construct encompasses it.

In their deviant coupling, these two errant chairs would disrupt the whole of the dining room set, the whole of the family, the whole of the kingdom, the whole of the natural world.

What She Knew opens tomorrow, Wednesday and runs through December 11, Wed-Sat at 8pm.  There are just eight performances with limited seating, so please book early.   It is a remarkable piece.  Simple and powerful in its writing, design, and performance.   Pure theatre.  The perfect debut for a company and aesthetic named theatre minima.  For more information and tickets visit theatre minima’s website.  For further thoughts by the author/director George Hunka visit Superfluities Redux.

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Half-price Tickets for Outside Inn

By Nick Fracaro at 10:21 am on Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Sorry to all readers. Serious personal matters have kept me from blogging and many other things in my life, including our theatre’s production at 59E59 Theaters of Outside Inn. The whole ensemble is proud of their work on the show and audiences are all enjoying it. It’s been up and running for a week now and reviews are starting to come in.

Readers of Rat Sass and friends can get half-price tickets with the four letter promotional code RATS.  Come enjoy.

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Bloggers’ Nights for Outside Inn

By Nick Fracaro at 10:15 pm on Thursday, September 25, 2008

Any blogger who has ever braved comment here at Rat Sass is welcome to a press comp to International Culture Lab’s Off-Broadway production of Outside Inn on any night October 2 through October 5. Just email telling me the night you wish to attend.

pr photo outside inn

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Avant Yarde Event Monday Evening

By Nick Fracaro at 10:29 pm on Thursday, August 21, 2008

Eat, meet, and greet
New work by TravSD and Katherine Adamenko

6pm-9pm: Potluck Barbecue and Performance
Monday, August 25

The Avant Yarde
214 Dean Street (Between Nevins and Bond)

Performance/reading will be approximately 40 minutes long. FREE admission with your favorite barbecue item or prepared dish to share. Please RSVP to Gabriele as seating is limited.


Sea / Herself:
The (De)volution of a Beauty Queen

SEA / HERSELF dances down feminine archetypes to unmask the authentic self. Hidden behind layers of make-up and societal graces, the feminine mask of beauty is stripped away to reveal the inner child in all her innocent splendor. Now liberated, the authentic wild woman emerges, returning to sea/herself.

Katherine Adamenko is a performance artist, Butoh dancer, actress and writer. Her unique style of cabaret performance art and renegade interactive performance have been seen on stage, in galleries, museums, parks, streets, kitchens and bathrooms throughout the United States and Europe. To learn more about Katherine and Ladypants Productions, please visit


TravSD’s first new experimental play in over a decade…

Elk Milk, or Custer Wore an Arrow Shirt

Mixing elements of Hollywood westerns, early Shepard, and vaudeville sketch, Elk Milk pokes fun at military paranoia and American terror of “the alien.”

Is the enemy without… or within?

Featuring Matt Gray, Bob Brader, Jeff Lewonczyck, Gyda Arber, et al.

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She and the Empty Living Room

By Nick Fracaro at 9:26 am on Thursday, August 14, 2008

My blogging will continue to be intermittent now that our October production approaches. We’ll be headed up north to Ithaca for rehearsals in September. Before we leave we will host one more Avant Yarde event, so stay tuned here for that announcement shortly.

Markus drove Carolina to JFK Monday night, so she is back in Argentina now. She is gone and present at the same time. I am meditating on her performance with Markus in She and the Empty Living Room. How do such performances function in the relationships we build over the years with friends and peers? Life and art entwined into the same tapestry.

The experience of “the other” is the most absolute knowledge we are allowed in our lives. Theatre and art can act as conduit to that experience but their rituals often function best as extensions of our everyday ceremonies.


markus and carolinaShe and the Empty Living Room

Conceived and Directed by April Sweeney
Text by April Sweeney and Carolina Sotolano
Performed by: Carolina Sotolano and Markus Hirnigel
Film by: Miklos Buk
New York Premiere

An exploration of (anti)communication, disobedient tongues, a missing left foot, a dance, a relationship, a poem, or a broken heart. She and the Empty Living Room is a play in translation (literally) about the act of translation, repression/oppression, and the language in your head that turns you into someone else.

She, and the Empty Living Room is a chamber play that looks at the (de)evolution of a relationship and the language it inherits. In loosing your language by trying to replace it with another you loose yourself and appropriate the other. Pretending to be someone else until you are forced to be the person you didn’t know you were.

backyard Avant Yarde


It is a play performed live by two actors in Spanish and English with simultaneous translation delivered via subtitles across two monitors on which also a film is seen. It is this film that is inherently translating the image (the play) before your eyes. It takes place in an almost empty room. A room in a house that is lived in.

Afterwards the public is invited to stay. There is a salon of sorts, hopefully on a divan with red wine and banana bread. This interaction is the end of the event and just as important as the event itself.


markus and carolina


markus and carolina


backyard Avant Yarde

markus and carolina


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Avant Yarde Event Monday Night

By Nick Fracaro at 12:05 pm on Saturday, July 26, 2008

Please join us for the next Avant Yarde event featuring a short play with actors who have lived and worked with our good friends from the South, the nomadic Argentine theatre group Willaldea.

She, and the Empty Living Room

A chamber play in one-act. An exploration of (anti)communication, disobedient tongues, a missing left foot, a dance, a relationship, a poem, or a broken heart. She and the Empty Living Room is a play in translation (literally) about the act of translation, repression/oppression, and the language in your head that turns you into someone else.

empty living room

Conceived and Directed by April Sweeney
Text by Carolina Sotolano and April Sweeney
Performed in Spanish and English by: Markus Hirnigel and Carolina Sotolano
Film by: Miklos Buk, Sound by: Joan JubettMonday,

Monday night, July 28th at Avant Yarde
214 Dean Street (Between Bond and Nevins)

6pm-9pm: Potluck Barbecue and Performance.
Please bring your favorite barbecue item or prepared dish to share.

Presented by International Culture Lab
FREE admission with your favorite dish
Limited seating for the performance

The Avant Yarde is located in a four-story private artists’ residence in the landmarked area of Brownstone Brooklyn. The site hosts artist salons, art potlatches, and commissions and installs temporary sculptures throughout the year. Avant Yarde proposes an alternative to the traditional performance and gallery space, attempting to position the exchange and experience of art outside the confines of the market while also examining conventional notions of public and private space within the community.

Curators: Russell Busch, Katie Merz, Paul Benney, Nick Fracaro, Gabriele Schafer

Avant Yarde accepts proposals for installations and sculptures on an ongoing basis. Write to

Current Installation

Big New Fountain by Charles Goldman

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Avant Yarde Opening Thursday Night

By Nick Fracaro at 9:53 am on Wednesday, June 11, 2008

NYC friends, please stop by to say hi and for a bubbly toast to Charles.

The Avant Yarde is located in a four-story private artists’ residence in the landmarked area of Brownstone Brooklyn. The site hosts artist salons, art potlatches, and commissions and installs temporary sculptures throughout the year. Avant Yarde proposes an alternative to the traditional performance and gallery space, attempting to position the exchange and experience of art outside the confines of the market while also examining conventional notions of public and private space within the community.

Curators: Russell Busch, Katie Merz, Paul Benney, Nick Fracaro, Gabriele Schafer

Avant Yarde accepts proposals for installations and sculptures on an ongoing basis. Write to

Current Installation

Big New Fountain by Charles Goldman

Opening reception: Thursday, June 12th from 6pm to 9pm at 214 Dean Street, Brooklyn.

Past Installations

Artist: Jason Gandy

What’s Up With That

Boat Mystery Solved!

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Shift Happens

By Nick Fracaro at 11:53 am on Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Visit the Wicked Wiki of the West behind this YouTube video and find more resources including history of presentation, suggestions for usage, and links to downloadable versions.

From text of Did You Know? 2.0

Did you know?
In the next 8 seconds . . .
34 babies will be born.

Name this country . . .

  • Richest in the world
  • Largest military
  • Center of world business and finance
  • Strongest education system
  • Currency the world standard of value
  • Highest standard of living

Great Britain. In 1900.

2006 college graduates
How many 2006 college graduates in India speak English?
In 10 years it is predicted that the number on English speaking country in the world will be . . .
Who would have predicted this 60 years ago?

Did you know?
According to the U.S. Department of Labor
1 in 4 workers has been with their current employer less than one year.
1 in 2 workers has been with their current employer less than five years.
The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that today’s learners will have . . .
10 to 14 jobs . . .
by their 38th birthday

Many of today’s college majors didn’t exist 10 years ago

  • New media
  • Organic agriculture
  • e-business
  • Nanotechnology
  • Homeland security

What will they study 10 years from now?

Today’s 21-year-olds have:
Watched 20,000 hours of TV
Played 10,000 hours of video games
Talked 10,000 hours on the phone
And they’ve sent/received 250,000 emails or instant messages
More than 50% of U.S. 21-year-olds have created content on the web
More than 70% of U.S. 4-year-olds have used a computer
Years it took to reach a market audience of 50 million

Number of Internet devices in 1984: 1,000
1992 – 1,000,000
2006 – 600,000,000

Did you know?
We are living in exponential times
The first commercial text message was sent in December 1992
The number of text messages sent and received today . . .
exceeds the population of the planet
The Internet started being widely used by the general public in early 1995
1 out of 8 couples married in the U.S. in 2005 . . .
met online
Revenue for eBay in 2006: $1.7 billion
eBay was founded in 1996
There were more than 2.7 billion searches performed on Google . . .
. . . this month

To whom were those questions directed B.G.?
(Before Google)

MySpace Visitors
More than 230,000 new users signed up for MySpace . . .
If MySpace were a country . . .
it would be the 8th largest in the world
YouTube visitors since September 2005

Did you know?
There are more than 540,000 words in the English language . . .
about five times as many as during Shakespeare’s time
More than 3,000 books were published . . .
. . . today
The amount of technical information is doubling every two years
By 2010, it’s predicted to double . . .
every 72 hours
Third generation fiber optics has recently been tested that push 10 trillion bits per second down a fiber
That is 1,900 CDs or 150 million simultaneous phone calls every second
It’s currently tripling every six months
The fiber is already there, they’re just improving the switches on the end . . .
which means the marginal cost of these improvements is effectively . . .

Nearly 2 billion children live in developing countries
One in three never completes fifth grade
In 2005 the One Laptop per Child Project (OLPC) set out to provide laptops to these children
The first shipments should be in mid-2007
Kids who have never held a textbook will now hold the world
And be connected . . .
to you
Predictions are that by the time
children born in 2007 are 6 years old,
a supercomputer’s computation capabilities
will exceed
that of the human brain
And while predictions further out than 15 years are hard to do . . .
a $1,000 computer
will exceed the computing capabilities
of the human race
what does this all mean?

We are currently preparing students for jobs and technologies that don’t yet exist . . . in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein

Did you know . . .
There are students in China, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, and the USA who
[graphic switches from: remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate, create, communicate, collaborate]
on projects
every day
Ask Your Kids: Are you doing this in school?
Ask Your Principal: How are you helping my child become literate in the 21st century?
Ask Your School Board: Are you providing the resources and training necessary to prepare students to be successful in 21st century society?
Ask Your Elected Representatives: Now that you know all this, what changes should be made to current education legislation?

What’s your vision?

Did you know . . .
The original version of this presentation was created for a Colorado (USA) high school staff of 150 in August of 2006
to start a conversation about what our students need to be successful in the 21st century
By June 2007 it had started more than 5 million conversations around the world
And now that you know, we want you to join the conversation

(Hat tip to Sasha Anawalt at ARTicles)

Crossposted at International Culture Lab.

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Guillermo Gómez-Peña in New York

By Nick Fracaro at 8:29 am on Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Somewhat under the radar, internationally acclaimed brujo-poeta, theorist, and performance artist Guillermo Gómez-Peña returns to New York for two evenings.


The Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics and el Museo del Barrio present two evenings featuring Guillermo Gómez-Peña. After more than four years away from New York, Gómez-Peña brings back his unique style of performance-activism and “theatricalizations of postcolonial theory.” In his books, as in his solo shows, he pushes the boundaries still further, exploring what’s left for artists to do in a post-9/11 “repressive culture of censorship, paranoid nationalism” and what he terms “the mainstream bizarre.” These programs are presented in connection with El Museo’s current exhibition, Arte. Vida: Actions by Artists of the Americas, 1960-2000 and the Hemispheric Institute’s EMERGENYC program.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008, 7:00 – 9:00 pm
New York University
Jurow Hall, Silver Center,
100 Washington Square East
Admission: Free

Guillermo Gómez-Peña will present a lecture at New York university in which he will examine the role of artists working against the backdrop of war, censorship, cultural paranoia and spiritual despair. In his lecture, Gómez-Peña will ask: What are the new roles that artists must undertake? Where are the new borders between the accepted and the forbidden? Is art still a pertinent form of inquiry and contestation? This lecture will be the inaugural public event of the institute’s EMERGENYC and Hemispheric New York programs.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008, 6:30 – 8:30 pm
El Museo del Barrio
Teatro Heckscher, 1230 Fifth Avenue at 104th Street
Admission: Free

In this performance, Gómez-Peña assaults the demonized construction of the US/Mexican border-a literal and symbolic zone lined with Minutemen, rising nativism, three-ply fences, globalization, and transnational identities. To this effect, the “border artist extraordinaire” uses acid Chicano humor, hybrid literary genres, multilingualism, and activist theory as subversive strategies. In this journey to the geographical and psychological outposts of Chicanismo, Gómez-Peña also reflects on identity, race, sexuality, pop culture, politics and the impact of new technologies in the post-9/11 era.

(Hat tip to Caridad Svich NoPassport.)

Crossposted at International Culture Lab.

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Launch Party for New York Theater Review 2008

By Nick Fracaro at 7:14 am on Friday, April 11, 2008

masthead nytr

cover nytr

New York Theater Review 2008 Officially Greets the World

Tonight Friday, April 11
at Drama Book Shop
250 W. 40th St.

Editor Brook Stowe will be reading from the bloggers interview section of the journal in-between performance excerpts from the plays. The NYC bloggers interviewed are Blindsquirrel Bloggings (aka Johnna Adams), Obscene Jester, sharkskin girl and Tweed (aka T. Nikki Cesare & Steve Luber), The Playgoer (aka Garrett Eisler), Jason Grote (aka Jason Grote), and your friend Rat Sass. I’m commuting from my day job, so I’ll be there a little late, around 7pm. If we haven’t met, and you’d like to say hi, I’ll be wearing a camouflaged RatSass t-shirt.

Be There or Be Square!

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