The Midtown International Theatre Festival (MITF) will close Sept 3 after a successful three-week engagement, Aug. 9-Sept. 3. This past week, the Festival's last (Aug. 27 - Sept. 3), three of the four MITF venues have hosted “Best of the Fest” performances featuring the most popular shows of the series.
MITF is based on presenting "the classic, the new and the musical" and is rooted in the Off Off-Broadway scene. Produced by John Chatterton, the publisher of oobr ("the off-off-broadway review") in association with New Perspectives Theatre, this year's MITF proved logistically challenging.
"I think next year we'll scale it down, frankly, because this year proved to be too much logistically," Chatterton told Playbill On-Line.
Chatterton described a successful festival but said he had learned lessons that would lead to changes. "This year," Chatterton explained, "we ended up at four theatres, in three venues, with 19 plays. It was really a bit much. I think we'd be better off trying to compress things into two theatres and one venue with maybe 12 plays. That would be more doable."
Among the specific issues he hopes to address, Chatterton suggested, were the logistics of managing several box offices. "It's all the stuff that you don't normally see," Chatterton explained, "the supervision of the box office staff, getting the envelopes delivered and the concessions trucked around. All the stuff that goes on at 5:30 in the morning." The OOBR head said it would be much easier to centralize at one theatre and to run a hospitality suite that would encourage more communication between audience members.
Chatterton described the audience reactions he received this season as ranging from solid to excellent. "There's no doubt the audiences loved these shows," Chatterton said, "but things are diffused and you lose an essential buzz [unless you are centralized]. One of the good things about the Fringe Festival is that there is more potential for Fringe-goers to run into each other and exchange comments, good or bad, on their shows. Some of my people have suggested that we set up a beer tent."
Tickets for each individual MITF show are $12, students and seniors with ID pay $10. MITF tickets are available on-line at CultureFinder.com, or via Ticket Central at (212) 279-4200. For information visit www.oobr.com. As reported earlier, the following partial list of this season's MITF productions was provided directly from the MITF and is organized by venue. Some of the shows have closed, so patrons should call the information number provided at the end of this article.
The Pantheon Theatre, 303 W. 42 St.
• American Story by Laurel Vartabedian and Bill Evans. A musical about the conflict between coal miners and the Rockefellers that came to a head in the Ludlow, Colorado strike and subsequent massacre of 1914. The MITF performance will mark the show’s East Coast premiere.
• Durang by the Dozen: No Guns, No Sofas. Twelve short plays by Christopher Durang presented by the two-time OOBR Award-winning Lightning Strikes Theatre Co., a mainstay of Off-Off-Broadway.
• Java Jive by Hank Meyerson. An evening of six comic one-act plays that meditate on life, love, and the role of coffee in our lives.
• Top-Less Go-Go Girls at the Troll Hole by Charles Battersby. This late-nite show offers a glimpse of the everyday goings-on among the denizens at a New York City leather bar.
The Common Basis Theatre, 750 Eighth Avenue, #500
• Barstool Words by Josh Ben Friedman, is a dark play about youthful relationships, alcohol, and violence. The show had a sold-out run in Canada under director Jeff Glickman.
• Little Delusions comprises three one-act plays by the venue’s host, The Common Basis Theatre Company in a search for the "truth in relationships that aren’t working."
• The Lover by Harold Pinter. One of Pinter’s shorter works, The Lover is a comic look at modern marriage and how couples choose to continue their lives together after comfort and familiarity set in.
• A Memory Play by Bob Stewart. A comedy about what happens when a playwright tries to rewrite his parent’s wedding day...so they don’t get married.
• The Women in My Soul by Owen Robertson and Michael David Brown. This one-person show features Brown in an acting tour-de force; not a drag act, just one man exploring what it means to be a woman.
Raw Space, 529 W. 42 Street, Studio “L”
• Marat/Sade by Peter Weiss. Presented by the Castillo Theatre Company, the full title is actually The Persecution and Assassination of Jean Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton under the Direction of the Marquis De Sade.
• Cognomen by Peter Galman. Galman, an accomplished Broadway and Off-Broadway actor, reflects on growing up Catholic and “the immortal part of sex.”
• A Selection of Plays by G.B. Shaw:How He Lied to Her Husband and The Music Cure. These one-acts presented by the Deptford Players, represent comic jewels that dot the flood of Shaw’s prose.
• Three Plays by Beckett presented by Tim O’Leary: The one-acts by Samuel Beckett include A Piece of Monologue, Act Without Words II, and Not I.
New Perspectives Theatre, 750 Eighth Avenue, #601
• Cultural Refugee by Wednesday Kennedy. The Australian writer/performer’s edgy and darkly witty observations create a unique perspective on American culture. A one-woman tour-de-force combining music, slide projection, and powerful characterizations. • I Took Your Name written and performed by Michael Howard Nathanson, centers on a man who may or may not be rock star Michael Stipe of R.E.M. fame. This provocatively funny show won a Best of Fringe Festival Pick in Montreal and was named one of the Top Ten Plays of the Year in Vancouver.
• Pericles by William Shakespeare. Presented by What We Will Productions.
• Splash! 2000. New short plays written by resident playwrights of the Waterfront Ensemble: Taste of Yes by Luigi Jannuzzi,What Kind of Person Is Tarzan? by Suzanne Marshall, Shaft’s Illegitimate Half Brother by Stephen D. Coleman, Enormous by Kerri Kochanski, Park Bench Bingo by Kathryn Milea, Snacks and Meals by Jeff Baskin, Monkey’s Paw 2000 by N.G. McClernan, The Pussy In Question by Robin Rothstein.
For tickets and MITF scheduling call Ticket Central at (212) 279-4200 or visit www.oobr.com.
-- By Murdoch McBride