Jorge Clar (left) and Scooter LaForge (crouching) collaborated on a “psychic
portrait ” of Gail Thacker (seated) while Ethan Minsker (far right) and others
documented the collaboration.
East Village, NoHo, LES theaters hold
outdoor, COVID-safe performances
BY BOB KRASNER
In the COVID-19 era, the government
helped fi nd a way for restaurants to
survive through outdoor dining. But
theaters across New York, especially the
smaller venues, are asking, as Gail Thacker
did, “What about us?”
While there is “a physical need for food,”
Thacker — the artistic director of the Gene
Frankel Theatre (GFT) on Bond Street in
NoHo — said that “there is a spiritual need
for theater.” At the moment, eateries are
operating at capacity outdoors and at 25%
indoors, but Off-Off Broadway spaces like
the GFT have no offi cial way forward.
Looking to fi nd a solution, at least two
groups are attempting to start a conversation
with the governor and mayor.
Eight small theaters, including the GFT,
La Mama and the Theater for the New City
are involved in a lawsuit put together by
Catherine Russell, the general manager of
the Theater Center, who is also an actor.
These theaters, which have less than 200
seats, are hoping to open at 25% capacity.
At the same time, FAB — the Fourth Arts
Block on the Lower East Side — came up
with the idea for a demonstration of safe
outdoor performances, involving many of
the more interesting downtown performance
spots, including The Clemente, WOW Cafe,
KGB and the GFT, among others.
On Saturday afternoon, Nov. 14, audience
members in front of 24 Bond St. saw
the GFT participate in the event, dubbed
“More Ways Than Broad Ways.” The
theatre rose to the challenge of presenting
PHOTOS BY BOB KRASNER
COVID-safe entertainment by thinking
ahead and being prepared, which meant
that Thacker had her work cut out for her.
“We hired a COVID Safe Media specialist,”
she said. “The artists’ arrivals were
staggered and everyone wore masks when
not performing and most wore them for the
Helixx C. Armageddon performing
her original piece, “Seeking Asylum.”
Microphones were disinfected between
acts and doors and windows were kept open.
For the performers, all of whom donated
their time, it was quite rewarding. Nora
Burns of the performance group “Unitard”
was more than ready to be on stage (or, as
it were, in the window).
After eight months of being sidelined by
the pandemic her fi rst words onstage were,
“Oh my god, an audience!”
Nora Burns of the performance troupe
“Unitard” discussing the state of things inside
the window of the Gene Frankel Theatre.
Later, she wondered why indoor
The masked audience gathered in the
street outside the Gene Frankel Theatre
customers of restaurants, who spend
most of their time sans masks, are okay
but theater goers – who have no reason
to take theirs off – are not.
Appearing in a window was, for performance
artist Helixx C. Armageddon.
“Better than Zoom!” she explained. “I
do feed off the energy of the people, even
Eileen Dover encouraged the crowd to sing background vocals on Lou Reed’s
salute to NYC decadence, ” Walk on the Wild Side.”
if they are on the other side of the glass.”
Her piece, “Seeking Asylum,” was
inspired by the plight of people who are
trapped at home with domestic abusers,
unable to seek help during the pandemic
but looking for a safe space.
Yoshiko Chuma, of the “School of Hard
Knocks” did an improvisaional dance
outside the theatre.
Between the acts, which also included
Eileen Dover, Alex Sepassi, Yoshiko
Chuma and Jorge Clar, dancers Erick
Montes, Eiren Shuman and Mark Schmidt
provided visual interludes to a soundtrack
created by Paul Alexander. All three wore
body paint courtesy of Scooter LaForge,
who adorned the human canvasses in the
window prior to performances.
Alex Sepassi of the band Silver Relics,
performing solo.Photo by Bob Krasner Eileen
Dover encouraged the crowd to sing
background vocals on Lou Reed’s salute
to NYC decadence, ” Walk on the Wild
Side.”Photo by Bob Krasner
LaForge also had a chance to collaborate
with Jorge Clar, as the two of them created
a “psychic portrait” of Thacker, who took
advantage of her time seated between them
to record the proceedings from a different
As Clar read the color of her aura and
divined her feelings, he announced his fi ndings
to LaForge who recorded them with
Thacker proclaimed the day a success,
noting that “it went smoothly and the community
embraced it!” Continuing, she said
that ” the government thinks that theater
is not essential, but there is a spiritual
need for it. It connects us as a group. I
feel like the restaurants are like an older
sibling who gets more attention for no good
reason. We’re just saying treat us fairly,
because we are just as important.”
Information about the theater can be
found at genefrankeltheatre.com
Schneps Media November 19, 2020 13