Monday, June 16, 2008

Upcoming Shows: Steve Ben Israel

Thursday - Sunday June 26, 27, 28, 29
THEATERLAB – 137 W 14th St. (between 6th and 7th Aves)
all performances 8 PM $15
reservations recommended
or the Theaterlab box office: 212-929-2545

Nonviolent executions, Steve Ben Israel’s one-man show, is his latest séance to contact the living. A series of short takes combining humor, poetry, stories of rare poignancy, and his virtuosic acting abilities, nonviolent executions is an evening of entertainment with extraordinary intelligence and heart.

Mr. Israel started working as a comedian almost 50 years ago, then joined The Living Theatre and for many years toured this country, Europe, North Africa and Brazil as a leading actor in that ground-breaking group. More recently, he has performed extensively on the downtown scene, in such venues as The Kitchen, The Performing Garage, and The Nuyorican Poets Café, and has appeared in movies by Bertolucci, been a featured artist on recordings by Frederic Rzewski and Anthony Braxton, and has been a guest commentator on NPR’s All Things Considered.

In nonviolent execution, Israel comes full circle, to inhabit the city of his waking dreams and nightmares and confront the beauty, the horror and the possibilities of “the island that creates the spice that gives much of the country its flavor.”

When he finds communality with an immigrant cab driver, a cashier at the phone company, or an old jazz hand, he touches something in us all. When he tells his audience that he doesn’t “like the way white people are portrayed in movies,” he is completely sincere. When he sings the cantonal “Ballad of Black, White, and Jew,” sadness and hope ride a North African musical motif from hidden grief to deliverance.

Steve Ben Israel would present an audience’s most generous face to itself. If he pierces the slick armor masquerading as sense in our time with jolts of love and compassion, it is only his compulsion and our deep pleasure to be so subjected.

Steve is a 2007 Obie Award winner and recently performed Frederick Rzewski’s Attica at Carnegie Hall.

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