A festival for world-class solo performers and an innovative troupe from the UK that will make you sit up and take notice—all night long and into the morning, if need be—command theatergoers’ attention as the fall theater season kicks in post-Labor Day.
GOING IT ALONE
“[A] solo performance reminds me that … so much of theater whittles down to the actor’s ability to make their audience feel something,” says Brad Forenza, author and performer of “Squeaky: Old Flames Can Really Burn.” The thought-provoking contemplation on Charles Manson, Squeaky Fromme, politics, pop culture and “a discarded humanity” (Forenza’s words) is a highlight of the ninth annual United Solo Theatre Festival, Sept. 13-Nov. 18. During the festival, the largest of its kind in the world, artists stage between two and five hourlong one-person shows per day. In addition to Forenza’s piece on Sept. 30, diverse offerings include Anne Stockton’s “I Won’t Be in on Monday” (Sept. 19), which is informed by her real-life experiences as a practicing psychiatrist and actor/trainer with the New York Police Department; and Amber Topaz’s “The Rude Awakening” (Nov. 10), an adults-only cabaret show on life, love and libido. “Being accepted into the uber competitive festival is a wonderful validation,” Forenza says, “but also a welcome obligation to take the audience on an emotional journey.” | Theatre Row, 410 W. 42nd St., 212.239.6200
Meandering from ghost story to parable to silly joke, “And on the Thousandth Night” (below) is a tale worth staying up all night to hear, which is what theatergoers will do when they enter the Arabian Nights world conjured up by the Forced Entertainment Theater Company from Sheffield, England. Story time begins at midnight on Sept. 8 and doesn’t end until 6 am the next morning. The audience can come and go as it pleases, but will anyone want to miss a word? Speaking of words, the Bard of Avon gets the Forced Entertainment treatment in “Complete Works: Table Top Shakespeare” (Sept. 11-16). That’s 36 plays condensed to under an hour each, with each performed by a lone actor, speaking the lines while moving everyday household objects on, yes, a tabletop. Think: a ruler representing a prince, a cheese grater representing a ghost. Clever concept. | NYU Skirball Center, 566 LaGuardia Pl., 212.998.4941