As often as we can, we diligently attempt to keep a record of everything we do and have done here
2013 was a year of co-producing and mentoring other production companies so we refer you to their pages for reviews!
Hiding behind comets– FabMarque Review
Nicu’s Spoon Awards and Recognition
Inaugural production ‘Displaced’ is endorsed for submission for the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Drama
Nicu’s Spoon chosen for The Foundation Center ‘Spotlight On’ profile for March
Nytheater profile/interview with Artistic Director, S. Barton-Farcas in April 2002
Chosen as WNYC ‘Salute the Arts (STAR)’ initiative winner for November
Company spotlight in Playbill Magazine
‘BackStage Magazine’ company profile/interview in January 2004
Artistic Director S. Barton-Farcas nominated for the Volvo for Life Awards
Artistic Director S. Barton-Farcas nominated for the Encore Award, NY Arts & Business Council
Winner of the 2004 (Off-Off Broadway Review) OOBR award for ‘SubUrbia’
Alliance of NY State Arts Organizations ‘Advancing Cultural Development’ Award nominee
Artistic Director named Runner up in the L’oreal Humanitarian Award
NYU Thom Fluellen Award to Spoon Theater for Service to the NY Community
Winner of the Snapple/NYC Mayor’s Office Best People to Work For Award
NY Innovative Theater Award Nomination for Outstanding performance by an actor in a Leading Role in the 2007-08 Season
NY Innovative Theater Award Nomination for Outstanding performance by an actress in a Leading Role in the 2007-08 season
NY Innovative Theater Award Win for Outstanding performance by an actress in a Leading Role in the 2007-08 season
Reviewfix names Spoon Theater Artistic Director as one of Top 10 Off-Off Broadway Professionals in NYC
‘Best of Manhattan’ award – Performing Arts Group
Co-Founding organization of Disability in Cinema Coalition
‘Best of Manhattan’ award – Performing Arts Group
Subject of feature-length SVA documentary “Two and Twenty Troubles”
Manhattan Business Hall of Fame Award – Performing Arts Group
NY Innovative Theater Award for Off-Off Broadway 2014-15 season Outstanding Stage Manager Award goes to Nicu’s Spoon Company Production Stage Manager Juni Li for the production of ‘Red Noses’
American Theater Magazine includes interview and picture of Spoon Theater production of ‘Richard III’
Company spotlight in Playbill Magazine
2001 Season – Refugees
‘Displaced’ Written by: Stephanie Barton Farcas*, Natily Blair*, Julie Campbell*, Gina Daniels*, and Jo Yang* Directed and Conceived by Stephanie Barton-Farcas*
“You…follow your heart and your instincts…and You’re a HIT! Brilliant!” – Ellis Nassour, Playbill
“Superb! immaculately distilled into something very edgy, alive, fresh, startling, haunting and affirming.” – Robyn Groves, United Nations Public Relations Liaison to Kofi Annan
2002 Season- The Outsider
‘To Kill a Mockingbird’
Directed by Stephanie Barton-Farcas
‘Valiant! Noble! Fine performances!
– Elias Stimac, OOBR
It’s always a good thing when a young theater company tries to make its bones with an established classic, and Nicu’s Spoon prove that they have the ambition and chutzpah to do just that. Admirable!
– Michael Criscuolo, NYTheatre.com
The recent presentation of “To Kill a Mockingbird” by fledging theatre company Nicu’s Spoon was nothing short of inspiring. The company’s love of literature and the craft of acting shone. Such purity of purpose is rarely found these days-but it is the essence of good theatre. Expect great things to come from Nicu’s Spoon.
– Lee Collins, Backstage
‘In Perpetuity Throughout the Universe’
By Eric Overmyer, Directed by Moritz Von Steupenagle (2015 Tony Nominee for ‘Hand of God’)
The performances were vibrant. This play and production were a highly enjoyable and thought-provoking experience.
Offers some well-deserved skewering, social criticism and a few good laughs. Delivers in spades.
– Richard Stroker, NYTHEATER.COM
While Thomas McCormackâ€™s endless Endpapers continues its multivolume run, the Nicu’s Spoon production company offers a more uncanny look at the publishing world.
– Soloski, Voice Choices, VILLAGE VOICE
2003 Season – The Independent Thinker
Spring 2003 George Orwell’s 1984 adapted by Robert Owens, Wilton E. Hall, Jr., and William A. Miles Jr. Directed by S. Barton-Farcas
This has been adapted for the stage by Nicu’s Spoon, an exciting new theater company that is gaining a reputation as one of the better off-off Broadway companies in the city. This production represents the type of risk more companies should be taking. Hopefully, Nicu’s Spoon will continue to develop this piece into a lively, exciting piece of theater, and continue fighting the good fight. The work they are doing is passionate, professional and absolutely worth keeping an eye on. – Tim Browning, THEATERSCENE.NET
Nicu’s Spoon has chosen cannily in mounting the stage version of George Orwell’s 1984 at this particular time. Thanks to director Stephanie Barton-Farcas and her dedicated collaborators at Nicu’s Spoon, we are getting another look at this important work of literature. It is a riveting work of theatre, giving us a raw, very personal experience of Orwell’s cautionary tale. – Martin Denton, Editor, NYTHEATER.COM (*starred, Editors Pick Review)
Accepting their mission of socially relevant theater, Nicu’s Spoon translates the realist prose of the author/journalist, his vision of totalitarianism, and the plight of his protagonist, Winston Smith, the last humanist. – Kim, Voice Choices, VILLAGE VOICE
Fall 2003 Murder Of Crows by Mac Wellman, Directed by Pamela Butler
“Spooky, uproarious, terrifying, and tender, the fowl play follows daughter Susanna as she, her mother, and her Gulf War-vet brother find themselves at the mercy of rich relations.” – Alexis Soloski, VILLAGE VOICE- Voice Choice
“Nicu’s Spoon, a theater company, in its third remarkable year, have staged a morbidly disturbing production of Mac Wellman’s “A Murder of Crows”, a rich, stimulating poem that locates the destructive spirit lurking amid amber waves of grain and purple mountains of majesty.” – Jack Quinn, Editor, THEATERSCENE.NET
“The recent high winds that rocked New York City added an eerie but not inappropriately constant background to the Nicu’s Spoon production of Murder of Crows. The performances were all terrific especially the eponymous crows, observing everything while wearing beautifully crafted but appropriately creepy sharp-beaked masks, and whose jazzily impromptu dance lifted the show to the sublime heights of absurdist heaven.” – Doug DeVita, OOBR
2004 Season- Marginalized Youth
“Director S. Barton-Farcas kept the lively cast from spinning out of control in the small space. The tiny stage aptly recreated the metaphor of the suburbs (small, dreary) and added to the play’s inherent claustrophobia. The set (Howard Goldberg) was an almost perfect recreation of the back of a convenience store — complete with broken fencing, milk crates, and a pay phone. Bogosian is one of the best writers around, and subUrbia is haunting in its accuracy. Nicu’s Spoon, known for its small but excellent productions of current playwrights (most recently Mac Wellman’s A Murder of Crows), scored a hit again with subUrbia. It was sure to resonate with anyone who ever wanted to get out.”
No exit* (reviewers choice) Jenny Sandman- OOBR review- 2004 OOBR AWARD WINNER FOR BEST PRODUCTION
Not So Ordinary People: Theater Group Nicu’s Spoon Recasts an American Classic
November 1, 2004, by Jessica Marmor- Columbia School of Journalism
“A story about the unraveling of a Midwestern family after tragedy strikes, Judith Guest’s 1976 bestselling book “Ordinary People” shows that even in the suburban heartland, life falls apart and ordinary people can turn out to be extraordinary. In the current off-off-Broadway production of “Ordinary People” (adapted for the stage by Nancy Gilsenan Hersage in 1983), theater group Nicu’s Spoon literally recasts the story: billed as a “multiracial adaptation,” the play features a white actor in the role of the conciliatory father, an Asian actress in the role of the distant mother and a Southeast Asian actor as the desolate younger son. But Nicu’s Spoon isn’t interested in ordinary families or ordinary people. Since its founding in 2001, Nicu’s Spoon has sought to cast talented actors of color in roles conventionally cast with white actors, such as the family in “Ordinary People.” Determined to push the bounds of casting norms even in New York’s progressive theater community, founder Stephanie Barton-Farcas has nothing but contempt for the many directors and producers who, she says, turn away brilliant actors for “not looking right.
The author of “Ordinary People” is the first to acknowledge that the characters in her novel are not ordinary to begin with – they are wealthy, they live in the suburbs, as readers regularly make a point of telling her. But, to Guest, the ordinary in the title refers to the characters’ emotions and to their problems and relationships: “People have the same kinds of feelings no matter where they live or who they are,” she said. She had no involvement in the Nicu’s Spoon production, but said she appreciates how the company is “shaking up” the whole picture of “Ordinary People” with a multiracial cast and thereby commenting on the story’s universality.”
2005 Season- The Dreamers
Spring 2005- The Swan by Elizabeth Egloff, directed by Eva Burgess
nytheatre.com review, Liz Kimberlin _ April 8, 2005
The Swan, by Elizabeth Egloff, is quite a remarkable work. It’s half allegory, half dream sequence. It’s dangerous theatre because it requires that the dramaturg be competent enough to see past the words on the page, which on first read might seem like gibberish. And, once mounted, it assumes that its audience members are all capable of independent thought and imagination. In short, it’s my understanding of what theatre is supposed to be all about. Nicu’s Spoon Productions has done a fine job with this challenging play. Extra kudos for having the courage to mount it in the first place. I hope they can restage it again soon and pull in the audience and sponsorship that they deserve.
Love Taking Wing- OffOffOnline, by Daniel Burson April 8, 2005
Love, commitment, marriage—the troika of conventional steps to romance. You find someone, it takes a while, but eventually you settle down, end of story. But when it’s not that simple, when the “conventions” of romance break down, what other formulas can we find inside ourselves? What kinds of feelings defy categorization, resist commitment, and tap into a darkness that is anything but conventional? Elizabeth Egloff’s play The Swan, now being performed by Nicu’s Spoon Theater, takes a stab at those and a few more questions, and then throws another monkey wrench into the works—one of the lovers is a bird. Or he’s a man. Or both. Or neither. The Swan is a gritty, poetic exploration of love that strips away “convention” and goes after the animal instincts that lurk in the shadows of romance. No, not lust (though there are some moments of intense sexual tension in the play) but the unflinching connection between two individuals, and the uncomfortable question of where that connection stems from. These are some big questions, and the play gets a little heady at times, as the characters wrestle with their emotions through Egloff’s stylized dialogue.
The Nicu’s Spoon production takes a direct run at those complex questions and flings itself stubbornly on them with few frills and no standing around. Everything is stripped down to expose the characters and their hearts like naked beasts, struggling in the wilderness. On an almost uncomfortably barren set, under unwavering light, the characters stand out either in bright white (there are many eerie recurrences of the color white throughout the piece) or in silhouette when seen through the massive plate-glass window that dominates the stage. The Swan, like the questions of romance it explores, is a tough show to come to grips with. If you’re ready to sort through the depths of your emotions, though, this won’t disappoint. The Swan may be an unconventional lover, but it’s a revealing exploration from a company that’s clearly not afraid to ride out some rough spots in the pursuit of awkward and beautiful truths.
The Little Prince, By Rick Cummins and John Scoullar Based on the book by Antoine de Saint-Exupery,
Directed by S. Barton-Farcas
“Without having read the program beforehand, a spectator might be astonished that the young actor at the helm managed to nail all that dialog. The trick lay in the clever casting of twins, Angela Rose and Maria Rose Popovic, who traded off scenes. Acting out the Prince’s adventures was an able ensemble, dressed in black, with additions of costume pieces as needed for each character they transformed into. They might all produce twigs and become a forest, or hold hoops with sewn-on fabric petals to their faces to become an animated flower garden. Green stockings slid up the arms and a broad collar transformed one player into a rose, while a red fur vest and headband ears created the fox character. There was a lot of inventive work here, given the limited resources and space. Costume designer Jessica Lane was to be commended for her creativity, as was director S. Barton-Farcas for the vivid pictures and fluid flow of the production. Still, for a play about the importance of the imagination and dreams, this production lived up to its mantra by demonstrating great imagination.”
Stumps, By Mark Medoff, Directed by S. Barton-Farcas
United Stages Review-INNOVATIVE DOUBLE CASTING
“Contributing columnist, Maggie Cino, reflects on the recent double casting of Nicu’s Spoon’s production of Stumps. Theatre for the deaf and theatre for the hearing rarely have much to say to each other. However, when deaf actors put on a production in sign language, voice actors are often employed to make it accessible to the hearing; occasionally, voiced productions will be closed-captioned or have a sign language interpreter. But in both cases, interpreting the play is a practical rather than an artistic consideration. Director Stephanie Barton-Farcas, the artistic director of Nicu’s Spoon, recently challenged that convention. In her production of Stumps by Mark Medoff, she demanded that both spoken- and signed-language performers not merely interpret, but join forces to illuminate the play’s emotional core. To accomplish this she cast two actors in every role: one speaking, one signing. Each actor was directed to fully play the role— the speaking actor played the character’s public persona while the signing actor played the internal reality.
Darren Frazier, one of the signing members of the company and a veteran sign-language actor, announced, “This was a new experience for me, groundbreaking.” Kate Breen, who’s also been signing onstage for years, agreed, “This was intense.” Playwright Mark Medoff is best known for Children of a Lesser God, one of the most famous stories about the deaf community. While all the characters in Stumps can hear, they are physically challenged in other ways. One character, Jerry, lost the use of his legs in Vietnam and another, Stephen, lost a hand. In this production, it is the speaking actor who bears the character’s physical trauma. The speaking Jerry is in a wheelchair while the signing Jerry pushes the chair and lifts him when he falls. “My idea for the relationship was that I was the image of the man Jerry always wanted to be,” said Tyson Jennette, who signed the role. Darren Frazier, whose articulate arms contrast the prosthetic worn by the speaking Stephen, added, “This show was really hard, because I’m playing Stephen’s alter ego, the parts of himself he can’t show. It was a challenge to always have to act the subtext. Pamela O. Mitchell, who signs the part of Cal, is a sign-language interpreter, and this was her first time onstage as an actor. “It was hard to lose the habits of an interpreter,” she said. “I’m used to putting my head down after I finish signing to signal that I’m done, and as an actor you always have to stay present.”
Of the five signing actors in the production, two were deaf and ASL was their primary language; one was a hearing Child of Deaf Adults (CODA); one was a sign-language interpreter making her acting debut; and one was a hearing actor who signs. But the double casting served an even greater purpose, because pushing artistic boundaries and challenging artists is not Nicu’s Spoon’s only mission. This company has been working for over four years to produce socially relevant works and to give voice to people who are often unheard. They make connections not just between performers and audience, but between people. Barton-Farcas tells the story of how one day the actresses sharing the role of Emily planned to meet outside rehearsal to go over the part. Concerned because the speaking actress only knew a handful of signs, Barton-Farcas asked if they needed a facilitator. “No,” the speaking Emily said. “We’ll figure it out. We understand each other fine.” “I was so happy to hear that,” said Barton-Farcas with a smile. “I just thought, that’s what doing this work is all about.”
2006 Season – Those who hold Secrets
The US Premiere of ‘Skin Tight’ by Gary Henderson
SING, DANCE ACT – ONLINE- Winner of all awards at the 1998 Edinburg Fringe Festival, Skin Tight premiered in 1994 at the Bats Theatre, where it played to packed houses. This work from New Zealand, inspired by Denis Glover’s poem ” The Magpies,” tells the intimate story of a rural marriage, where Tom and Elizabeth engage in a violent and erotic dance of the union through an exhilarating feast of fighting, lovemaking and tenderness. The characters strip themselves, literally, to explore the ecstasy and pain of a passionate love affair.
The US Premiere of ‘Cherish’ by Ken Duncum
“Cherish follows the dramatic reverberations of a surrogacy dispute between a gay couple and a lesbian couple, whose parental instincts threaten to tear them apart. Duncam’s play deals with not only the issue of gay parenthood, but with the universal struggle to be true to ourselves while doing what is best for our families. In “Cherish” the characters face a truth that echoes in all of our lives: “The things you can’t have — they define you, shape you. They belong to you. They’re not an outrage to natural justice. They are nature. They’re something to be cherished. This story of two gay couples trying to raise children is thought-provoking. Cherish will stir your emotions and make you laugh.” Nicholas Linnehan, Theatre Talk
“One of the greatest pleasures in attending theater is to fall into the web of a history well woven and encircling. Cherish is a text that you can enjoy this way. It carries us through surprise to surprise without falling into the temptation of rebellious sensationalism. The story of so large an action that it destroys what it loves is so stunning that what is less important here are the details of the sexual orientation of the people. The genius of the playwright is exactly in the subtlety and smoothness of the chain of events. They take us to the end of the play with a beautiful elegance that permits us to let down our moral guard and to see the true moral challenges. ” Victor Weinstock, El Economista
“Cherish is a truly moving show which deftly deals with some of the most taboo social issues of today’s society. It’s a must see for all adult audiences. The audience learns that’s it’s in a child’s best interest to have two loving and caring parents regardless of how the child is brought into the world. With the perfectly whimsical staging, and the seriousness of the issues, the characters skillfully leave one uncertain at times whether to laugh or cry. ” Nilson Netto, Brazil Press
Buried Child by Sam Shepard
Buried Child, Reviewed by: Nicholas Linnehan
ONE OF THE BEST SHOWS THIS YEAR! A few months ago, I had reviewed a production of Buried Child, and said that the company had a handle on how to produce Sam Shephard’s bizarre play about a family hiding a dark secret. While I stand by that, the production of this play by Nicu’s Spoon revealed an even more unbelievable way to produce this work. Director, Stephanie Barton-Farcas led her cast with brilliance, intelligence, and heart. The show was powerful, moving, and surprisingly funny; a credit to her and the amazing cast.
The cast featured Wynne Anders as Halie, and Jim Williams as Dodge. These two grabbed a hold of the audience from the first moment and didn’t let go until the last word was spoken. Simply superb! Also Darren Fudenske, a deaf actor, portraying Tilden proves that good acting is about doing and is alive in the body. His vocal limitations did not detract from the play as he played his part with sincere conviction that transcends any physical disability, thereby telling the story without losing his audience. No small feat. I could go on and on about this talented and connected ensemble of actors, who’s tremendous honesty is so refreshing to watch. The production is quite impressive. This show is what live theater is supposed to be and proves that it still exists. Unfortunately, it is rare to see this kind of theater (even though its exactly what all theater should be); the kind that leaves its audience breathless and wanting more! You owe it to yourself to see this one, trust me. Nicu’s spoon hits a grand slam with this one, and if this is the kind of theater they produce, the theater community has a lot to look forward to.
2007 Season- The Disabled
Holidays 2007 our first childrens show – Sleeping Handsome A gender bending childrens holiday show! ‘This was great and I loved the diversity of the actors – this gives the kids a message that to be different is ok!’ Lori Castro, Preschools of America.
Spring 2007 – Tales of the Lost Formicans by Constance Congdon
In Tales of the Lost Formicans, Constance Congdon’s satirical critique of 1980s suburbia, a cadre of friendly aliens — amusingly outfitted with almond-shaped sunglasses — is replaying scenes from American suburbia to puzzle out the complexities of the family unit. It’s a sad fact that the play seems just as fitting nearly 20 years after its first production. Nicu’s Spoon’s current season is dedicated to exploring issues of disability and working with disabled artists; with Formicans, the company tackles the subject of Alzheimer’s disease and has in the cast an actor with cerebral palsy. Jerry Portwood, Backstage
“Formicans is a brilliant play. The language that Congdon invents for her alien characters is specific and often hilarious, full of the kinds of insights that come from refusing to look at anything in the usual way. In sum, this production of Formicans has some kinks that need working out, but the play is a modern masterpiece, generally well acted. Its small, odd, funny, and haunting world is a place well worth visiting.â€ RL Nesvet, OffoffOnline
They say that ants can pull 50 times their weight, but the disabled humans do plenty of hauling as they seek their ideal forms in Constance Congdon’s poignant tale of aliens, Alzheimer’s and adolescence, produced by Nicu’s Spoon. The play is a wonderful metaphor for the function of theater. One could accomplish a great deal by sitting and listening. And the point of all the lifting of chairs? “Never force anything.” Congdon has lent an ear to Plato in this sequence of terse epitomes about finding one’s form: “All you have to do is gather it in.” Deborah Greenhut, OOBR
Nicu’s Spoon is an extraordinary company in that they celebrate the diversity of acting talent in the city by casting multi-racial, multi-abled, multi-aged, and multi-gendered talent. The cast of Formican’s certainly is true to that mission. And then there are the aliens. Rather than writing a basic family drama, Congdon presents the audience with an anthropology lesson, as a group of aliens observe and attempt to understand the lives of this group of humans. They get most of it wrong, but of course, thatâ€™s the point. The results force us to view ourselves and our lives in a different light. Byrne Harrison, Stage Buzz
Summer 2007 – ‘RICHARD III’
by William Shakespeare A villian? Maybe. But in reality a disabled man, reviled by all, fighting to make his way in an ‘abled’ world.
“The most fascinating device is that Richard is also played by Andrew Hutcheson, billed as co-player for Richard, who is upstage in a corner, behind a lectern, speaking Richard’s monologues. Hutcheson is tall, imposing, deep voiced and well-spoken, and the contrast with Holden, who is smaller and speaks Richard’s lines with an evil-pixie demeanor when in scenes with others, is striking. This Richard clearly has a different sense of himself than how he is seen by others, and this goes a long way in explaining how he manipulates his way to being crowned king. ” David Mackler, OOBR
“It would be difficult to review this show without mentioning the performance of Wynne Anders in the role of Queen Margaret. That’s a fantastic role, and she was absolutely riveting every moment she was on stage. But for me, the standout performance of the show was in the role of Queen Elizabeth, played by Rebecca Challis. In the scene with Richard, after he has killed her children, I could really feel her pain and hatred. That’s a tough scene (my favorite), and she nailed it. Also, having two actors playing Richard highlighted the contrast between Public Richard and Private Richard. The director also had the freedom to underscore the more poignant moments by having a character deliver a line addressed to Richard to Hutcheson instead of Holden, or to have both actors speak a line in unison. And Hutcheson turning off his reading lamp to signify Richard’s death was a nice touch.” ShakespeareTeacher.com
Fall 2007 – The US Premiere of ‘Kosher Harry’ by Nick Grosso What is the true nature of disability? In this US Premiere of a Bristish play we explore that notion.
“The lesson of Kosher Harry is exceedingly timely and apt: Hatred is most dangerous when embedded and normalized into the daily rituals and conversations of our lives. They have much method to their madness in giving this play its U.S. premiere.” Christopher Murray, BACKSTAGE Reviewers Pick*
2008 Season- Women
The New York Premiere of ‘Elizabeth Rex’ by Timothy Findley, Directed by Joanna Zipay.
Theater Review (NYC): Elizabeth Rex by Timothy Findley
Playwright Timothy Findley took on an intriguing and challenging task with this play. The time is 1601. It’s the night before the scheduled execution of Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, a former favorite of the Queen’s, to whom she had been famously, romantically linked. To prevent rioting by Essex’s supporters, a curfew is imposed, which (in Findley’s conceit) traps Shakespeare (Scott Nogi) and some of his company in the royal barn for the night. All hell gets pent up, only to break loose gradually as Ned Lowenscroft (Michael DiGioia), a player who specializes in female roles and is dying of “the pox,” refuses to pander to the Queen. Instead he engages her in a dangerous emotional game. Lowenscroft is sure there’s a woman somewhere inside the icon, despite her having remained pure and unmarried for the sake of England. The Queen takes up the flamboyant actor’s gauntlet, challenging him to show “the man” inside his effeminate manner. The process by which these two marvelous characters wear down each others’ enamel is the play’s dramatic center.
All in all, all’s well that ends well (except for poor Essex, of course). Unlike in a Shakespeare history, no one here dies on stage, at least. This substantial and rather difficult play uses Shakespeare’s milieu to gamely confront matters of gender and sexuality. Nicu’s Spoon proves an excellent utensil for the task.
|Elizabeth Rex Gets the Royal Treatment at Nicu’s Spoon, Broadway Bullet Magazine|
It mirrors the problems and issues facing modern America, and fits perfectly into the season of Nicu’s Spoon geared toward women and gender identity. It’s as if Mr Findley has held up a looking glass to modern society to say, “this is who you are, as you were.” It is truly one of the most refreshing pieces of this season, and I wonder what has taken the New York theatre world so long to bring this play back to audiences. Elizabeth Rex is a superb play, performed by a fabulous troupe of actors, even more intimate in the space of Nicu’s Spoon Theatre. It is a timely piece that is about the journey we all take to find who we are by accepting who we were. Bravo to Nicu’s Spoon for bringing this piece to life in the time they have.
No Niggers, No Jew, No Dogs by John Henry Redwood, Directed by Stephanie Barton-Farcas
nytheatre.com review, Natasha Yannacanedo, July 12, 2008
In John Henry Redwood’s No Niggers, No Jews, No Dogs
The Cheeks, an African American family, struggle to survive in racist North Carolina during the last century. A Jewish man, Yaveni Aaronson, provides the family with money as he claims that he is doing research on African Americans. The play’s provocative title refers to a sign that Yaveni saw in a town where he once resided—at a time when he denied his Jewish heritage and lived as a “goy.” Through the anti-Semitism Yaveni experiences and the violence and racism the Cheeks endure, we see the parallels of their suffering. When one of the characters is raped, we see how they must respond to this act of violence and how an unlikely friendship is forged between the Cheeks and Yaveni.
No Niggers, No Jews, No Dogs is an interesting play dealing with the difficult subjects of rape, anti-Semitism, and racism. Nicu’s Spoon should be applauded for once again producing meaningful, dynamic and intriguing work. Their willingness to take risks is needed in today’s theatre.
The World Premiere of ‘A Kite Cut Loose in the Middle of the Sky’, by David Greenberg
OOBR, Hell on wheels, The World Premier of A Kite Cut Loose in the Middle of the Sky, Written by David Greenberg
Being trapped inside a prison with no way out is a terrifying thought. But when that prison happens to be one’s own body, the fear factor is raised considerably, as shown in David Greenberg’s fascinating, if somewhat disjointed A Kite Cut Loose in the Middle of the Sky. Initially an object of pity, during the course of the play Rosie eventually starts to come across as a fully formed, vital woman trapped in an unmoving shell. Her only outlet for her pain is her voice, the tool she uses to torment, annoy, rage at and occasionally laugh with those who cross her path. Because when she does manage to keep someone verbally off balance, Rosie gets to be the one in control. At least for a little while.
There is no question that this is a powerful and moving play. As staged now, Act II of A Kite Cut Loose in the Middle of the Sky plays like a powerful and heart-wrenching black comedy while Act I is more of a “disability of the week” drama with interesting characters that are never fully explored. As a whole, it’s a good piece.
2009 Season- Spiritual believers
Dear Spoon Theater-
I want to let you know how much my students and fellow teachers have enjoyed your modern takes on traditional fairytales. We loved Rumplestiltskin, Pinnochio, and this year’s Cinderella. The dialogue is witty and very accessible. Your productions are so well geared to my student body from our 1st graders to our 5th graders, they all love them. Your integrated use of actors with disabilities has also made your productions great for my Special Education Students as well as my General Ed Students. We read the familiar fairytales beforehand and then enjoy your imaginative retellings which help inspire our students with their own writing.
Looking forward to next year’s new play!
Sincerely,Laurie Greenwald, Theater Teacher P.S. 50 Q
Spring 2009 ‘Tibet Does Not Exist’ by Don Thompson, Directed by Pamela Butler
“Consistently fascinating, Exist brilliantly portrays the pettiness and political correctness of academia, while leaving audiences with much to ponder on a philosophical level. It is also a timely, but not at all didactic reminder that Tibet does indeed still exist, though many in power would probably prefer we forgot it. A smart play, tightly produced by Nicu’s Spoon…” —Joe Bendel, ‘JB Spins’
“A provocative play melding East & West, it speaks to the current situation in Tibet as well as a need for a greater humor, awareness and personal responsibility in a world of ever-changing values.” — Theater Development Fund
“TIBET DOES NOT EXIST explores some very loaded issues surrounding international policy and religious tolerance… well-scripted, well-balanced, and overall Zen-like…” — New Theater Corps
“Insightful expositions on the relationships among economics, philosophy, religions, the nature of being, of beauty, of academe versus the internet, of young versus old, of true worth, of true identity, of pettiness and nobility, of, in short, practically everything and, yes, of nothingness.” — TheaterScene.net
Summer 2009 ‘Hiding Behind Comets’ by Brian Dykstra, Directed by John Trevellini
“Brian Dykstra’s play is a knockout psychological thriller with simmering suspense at every turn. There is nary a wasted moment in the script of twists and revelations which raises multiple emotionally charged moral issues. Dykstra’s richly drawn characters have complicated connections to each other (including an ambiguous sexual bond between the twins themselves). This is an adult play, not for the feint-of-heart.” NYTheatre.com
“SWEATY-PALMED suspense…a lean, predatory production… DON’T MISS THIS LITTLE SYMPHONY OF SAVAGERY ” NY Sun
Fall 2009, The World Premiere of ’23 Coins’ by Mark Abrahamson, Directed by S. Barton-Farcas and Michelle Kuchuk.
Ginny Walker is not like other girls. Hiding out in the badlands of southern Louisiana, this genius girl-prodigy and her fugitive mother, Sarah, live precariously. But the law is not the only threat. Both of them dangle beneath a giant question mark—a fatal genetic legacy that may (or may not) strike. Laid bare under such catastrophic shoes about to drop, how does one plow through an average day? As you might’ve guessed, Ginny turns to preaching the gospel. After all, she’s gifted. She’s got fire & brimstone. Healing hands. And somehow, the full text of the bible committed to memory. In the pursuit of soul saving, these gifts are invaluable. To Isaac Thigpen of Christ’s Road Show Tent Revival, Lil’ Gin Walker’s talents are gold. When she preaches—the collection plate doth runneth over. Thigpen has big plans for which he’ll fight if necessary. And he’ll surely bring down hellfire on anyone who gets in the way—to make sure that his golden girl-preacher goose keeps the cash comin’. Things may seem hopeless. But this special (and highly motivated) girl isn’t about to leave her fate up to chance.
How will Gin and her mother survive their gods and demons?
2010 Season- Those who fight for love
W;t by Margaret Edson, directed by Alvaro Sena
NY Examiner – Suzanna Bowling
Friday night I saw a revival that left me wanting to know more about the original and the film that followed. Wit is a devastating portrayal of a women dying of ovarian cancer and the scenes of her life that eventually lead to her death. It is easy to see why it won the Pulitzer Prize for drama. Wit is about the process of dying but more importantly the process of caring and the layers that fall in between. Nicu’s Spoon’s production of Wit is a bargain at $18, $15 for students. Nicu’s Spoon is an interesting company that gives all actors a home, no matter race, disability or gender. In the case of Wit, Sammy Mena who plays Vivian’s ex-student and now her emotionally cold research intern, has a speech impediment, but that fades as he brings Jason to light and he is better than the HBO actor. Wit follows Dr Vivian Bearing, a university professor of English recalling the initial diagnosis of Stage IV metastatic ovarian cancer. She is put on eight rounds at full dosage of an experimental chemotherapy regimen. No one has ever done the full dosage at eight rounds. As she bravely pulls through she assesses her own life using the wit and the metaphysical poetry of John Donne of whom she has dedicated her life to. Stephanie Barton-Farcas plays Vivian and is a little brash and it takes a bit of the play to really connect to her, which is the point. It isn’t until she shows us her vulnerability, that we connect. Her scene’s with mentor Dr Ashford played with depth by Wynne Anders begins that connection. Wit is a tear jerker so be sure to bring plenty of kleenex. There is no way not to be moved. The last 5 minutes build to a ferocious intensity, as Vivian exposes her body and releases her entire being from this hell of trying to save her life. Be prepared if you are a women to scream, sob and be moved. It will sneak up on you and hit you unawares. Full force.
2010 Summer ‘Beautiful Thing’ by Jonathan Harvey, Directed by Michelle Kuchuk
nytheatre.com review, August Schulenberg · July 9, 2010
Beautiful Thing is a tenderly drawn play by Jonathan Harvey about two teenage boys falling for each other in working class South London. Staged by Nicu’s Spoon as part of their 10th season’s focus on outcasts, Beautiful Thing is a subtle and detailed look at the complex evolution of romantic and familial love. But plot is a secondary pleasure in Beautiful Thing; the play is interested primarily in the richly drawn characters, particularly Jamie, Sandra, and the charmingly self-destructive Leah. When the play works best, we feel as if we’ve pulled up a chair to share a beer and watch them banter. Under Michelle Kuchuk’s gently nuanced direction, the actors convincingly capture the rhythms of everyday desire, charmingly incarnating the little disappointments and thrills of growing up and moving on. The small size of the Spoon is a good space for the play, forcing the characters and audience into an uneasy intimacy. Nicu’s Spoon’s Beautiful Thing is never less than engaging, and often lovely.
“Beautiful Thing” – The Classics Never Age, by The Happiest Medium on July 14, 2010,
The Happiest Medium Review by guest contributor Lina Zeldovich
In Beautiful Thing, currently being produced by Nicu’s Spoon Theatre Company, director Michelle Kuchuk accomplishes a charming revival of this British classic written by Jonathan Harvey and originally staged in 1993, with a later release as a screen adaptation by Channel 4 Films in 1996. Instantly transplanted into the mid- eighties slums of South London, we meet Jamie (Trip Langley), an awkward teen who hates playing ball, Sandra – Jamie’s single mom (Julie Campbell), her boyfriend Tony (Tim Romero and Leah (Rebecca Lee Lerman), their eccentric sassy teen neighbor who has been expelled from school, does drugs and is obsessed with Mama Cass. She fancies herself an up-and-coming music star and has a bit of a crush on Ste (Michael Abourizk), who lives next door to Jamie and, unlike him, loves sports and is tall and handsome.
The play brings forth the beauty and magic of a boy-meets-boy romance as the audience learns to love, grieve and be anxious through their eyes. Will the boys be able to embrace their love openly? We can only guess. And wish them the best of luck in this stern unforgiving world they are coming of age in. But for now they are happy, dancing with each other on their next night out at Gloster, taking life in stride one day at a time.
2010 Fall- ‘Kimberly Akimbo’ by David Lindsay-Abaire, directed by Oliver Conant
“Kimberly Akimbo” delivers on a heavy emotional experience, By Kerry McBroome, Published: Wednesday, October 13, 2010
One more play about family relationships might spark a street riot in the Theater District – luckily, “Kimberly Akimbo” at the Spoon Theater tackles much more. So much more, in fact, that it scales the thematic heights of a classic novel. Directed by Oliver Conant, “Kimberly Akimbo” centers on a girl aging at impossible speeds and her adolescent-minded parents, all trapped in New Jersey. Maturity then, is the initial topic. Wynne Anders wrestles the title role and plays a girl with a fatal disease that causes her to age at four and half times the normal rate. She oozes with the self-conscious sarcasm of a witty teen, making her performance embarrassingly relatable. The set, which looks like it could have been designed by Salvador Dali, emphasizes the mortality subtext. Clocks missing hands and numbers dot the walls, echoed in large painted circles on the floor and the round tabletop.
“Kimberly Akimbo” is a risky choice of show for the Spoon Theater, considering that the “art as escapism” camp has got New York in a death grip. Attempting realism is not the predictable option, especially with a plotline as unusual as this. The off-off Broadway Spoon Theater is known for producing avant-garde theater in this vein. This season’s theme was Outcasts, which dealt with our perceptions of normality and its aberrations. The theater is a tiny black box in the middle of an office building, with creaking floors and an out-of-work elevator. For the audience member tired of Broadway glitz, it’s a charming haven. Whether the credit belongs to the quaint setting or the genuine acting, “Kimberly Akimbo” achieves its ultimate goal – have the audience expect Kimberly to flop over dead at any moment, and dread that happening. For the delicately crafted ending scene alone, “Kimberly Akimbo” is a fine piece, and as they say, well worth the price of admission.
Rumpelstiltskin, nytheatre.com review Rohana Elias-Reyes • January 9, 2010
Over the past year, I’ve reviewed a number of children’s shows and seen an even larger number. Katie Labahn’s adaptation embellishes the widely known Brothers Grimm version of the tale. “R” and his fairy friend Mori are bored after 500 years together; R decides the solution is to acquire a human baby. Though there are opportunities for kids in the audience to dance with the cast and help solve the riddle of Rumplestiltskin’s name, what drew my four- and six-year-olds into the show were Matt Maynard’s cartoonishly villainous portrayal of Rumplestiltskin, several magic tricks interspersed throughout, and the somewhat odd turning-straw-into-gold dance numbers. What I liked was Nicu’s Spoon Theatre’s, (and Linnehan’s) wonderfully straightforward version of inclusion. Actress and playwright Katie Labahn performs in a wheelchair—it’s not a plot point, nor is the character described that way; there is simply no reason why Lady Malcolm (or any other character in the play really) shouldn’t be in a wheelchair. When she entered, my daughter turned to me and asked if the actress really needed a wheelchair, I nodded, she nodded and turned back to watch the show. That moment was a far more valuable lesson than when the performers turned to the kids in the audience and told them that lying is bad and gets you into trouble. With a $10 entry fee, Rumplestiltskin offers another kind of inclusion as well.
2011 Season- Monsters
Cinderella by Katie Labahn, directed by Nick Linnehan
The Bad Seed, By Maxwell Anderson, directed by S. Barton-Farcas
By Marc Miller | Posted April 10, 2011, 7:05 p.m.
For its 2011 theme, Nicu’s Spoon has chosen monsters, and the company leads with a honey: Rhoda Penmark, the little murderess of “The Bad Seed.” Maxwell Anderson’s 1954 drama is remembered mainly through its 1956 film version, which differs in small but significant ways. One is grateful to Nicu’s Spoon for giving us a rare glimpse at his original look at evil beneath seeming innocence. Anderson’s play is enjoyable for its 1950s structure—bells and phones always ringing to introduce plot points—and its then-shocking cocktail chatter on such subjects as homosexuality and incest. It ends far more creepily and satisfyingly than the movie, and the author’s penchant for high-flown poesy is kept well in check. This isn’t an ideal “The Bad Seed,” but with so few old-fashioned well-made plays on the boards nowadays, we’ll take what we can get.
2011 Fall- How the Day runs Down by John Langan, directed by S. Barton-Farcas
HOW THE DAY RUNS DOWN- Eye on the Arts July 15, 2011
The barricade of carefully stacked garage-sale-type objects – from your old stereos to chairs and planks of wood – seems innocent enough at first, dividing us in the audience from the four gravestones in the performance space. Suddenly, as a man with a gun shaking in his hand, yells at the bloodied and eerily silent “Pastor Parks”, we realize this make-shift barrier serves a strange purpose: to keep out the infiltrating zombies. John Langan’s ‘How the Day Runs Down” takes the audience through a wild tale of the people of Goodhope Crossing and the nightmare that has become their reality. The worst part is no one knows why, which hurls this very little town into a state of panic. — Jennifer Thompson
FROM THE AUTHOR, JOHN LANGAN (pictured above)
This past Friday I took the train down to NYC to see a staging of my story, “How the Day Runs Down,” by Nicu’s Spoon. The theater had first contacted me about possibly performing the story, which first appeared in John Joseph Adams’s Living Dead anthology and is written in play-format, last summer. I agreed to it, but my agent warned me not to get my hopes up: lots of pieces get optioned for performances that never materialize. But we found our way to a pair of chairs in the middle of the seating, and waited for the play to begin. And what a show it was! I suppose you could say I’m biased, but I like to think that, having written the thing in the first place, my standards for its performance were especially high. The actors did not disappoint; while all of them delivered fine performances, the two pillars of the show were Mark Armstrong and Elizabeth Bell. As the Stage Manager, he immediately established a free and easy rapport with the audience that gave his narration of and commentary on the play’s events a kind of downhome authority; as Mary, she held the audience spellbound with her account of the disaster that befalls her character’s family. Honestly, I could not have asked for two better actors. Although there’s humor in it, this is not zombie as camp experience; this is a narrative that becomes ever-more bleak–as it was intended to be. I can’t recommend this performance highly enough. If you can make any of the remaining performances, I don’t think you’ll regret it.
NY Theater Review- Jody Christianson,
Nicu’s Spoon presents How the Day Runs Down, set in a stark climate of grocery stores with sparsely stocked shelves, faulty government public services, NPR offering the only reliable news programming, a crashing economy that hits middle America hard and the hope that the federal government will get it under control . . . as neighbors arm themselves with heavy artillery and eat each other’s brains. In a seemingly Our Town-esque meets Dawn of the Dead meets Spoon River Anthology inspired production citizens of a quiet upstate New York town relay their stories of terror and survival in a changing world. Attending a PACKED performance last Friday evening during a rainstorm was perfectly apropos. Though the overt violence occurs off-stage zombies are an ever foreboding presence. Live soundscapes, eerie dim lighting that allows actors to lurk in shadows add to the tension. The Spoon’s production team creates the shell of what feels like a much larger world. Using pared down resources; a stark set that leaves nowhere for actors to take shelter (or weapons to fight with), exceptional special effects make up and costumes (S. Barton-Farcas), supported by a simple, expertly executed green tinged lighting design and practical flashlights (Steven Wolfe)-the effect is beautifully grotesque. And designers are served well by the Zombie Ensemble’s nuanced movement work including an especially spooky little girl (Sophie Farcas). Stellar naturalistic acting and detailed storytelling are most apparent in a 40 minute monologue in the climax of the play. Elizabeth A. Bell gives a captivating performance as a mother who defends herself in the invasion and the “stage manager” (Mark Armstrong), navigates exposition with conversational ease and believability.
Due to the loss of space our theater company underwent some changes and took some time to gather funds. BUT! We still produced-
Snow White and Rose Red, written and directed by Kati Labahn
Preschools of America- Lori Nastro
Thank you to Nicu’s Spoon for presenting this wonderful story. The kids loved it and it was easy to follow with 6 very defined characters. The kids could not stop talking about the Bear (who was wearing a T-shirt with ‘Bear’ spelled wrong!). One of my two trips to this show also involved a bit of a meet and greet and talk with the playwright, a very smart lady in a wheelchair named Katie (Labahn). We loved her humor and insights and back at school we had a wonderful talk about disabilities and how people with them can do anything and so we shouldn’t be mean to them and in fact we should be friends with them. It really brought tears to my eyes that THIS was the best lesson they could have learned while they were watching a great play! We love Spoon Theater.
2013 Season- Co- Production and Mentoring
Partly Cloudy People presenting ‘Tigers be still’
“The combination of animal on the loose with neurotic characters can’t be said without drawing comparison to the classic movie Bringing Up Baby, where a tiger’s escape in Connecticut and an oddball crew of people come together to capture the wild animal and end up finding love. Tigers Be Still captures this willy energy and neurosis that makes for an enjoyable evening of comedy.” NY Theater Review- Aurin Squire
The picture of Dorian Grey presented at the United Solo Festival on Theater Row
Daytime Moon Project
“At any given moment, trains are traveling all over the United States, carrying people from all different backgrounds, to all kinds of important events. “Full sTEAM Ahead” is the story of such a train, and the incredible people on and around it. Join Steam Engineer Recetta, Maxwell the Animator, John Peterson the Apple Genius, Tremendous Mike the Famous Artist, Eagle Ice the rock star, Coloe the ballerina, Dr. Dora, Tatiana, an animal caretaker, Billy the lumberjack, and Madeleine the gardener as they solve the real-life problem of a lifetime: how to fix that train!”
2014 Season- Documenting the work. A film crew spent 9 months following us as we did ‘The Cherry Orchard’
“I never understood that Chekhov was funny. I have never seen a production of Chekhov that is so alive and in the moment. It makes me want to go home and reread everything he wrote.” Micheala Nivolovna, Playwright and author.
The Film- ‘Two and Twenty Troubles”
“Two and Twenty Troubles” is a new documentary about a play starring NYC disabled actors. The film is being made in association with Nicu’s Spoon Theater Company, whose mission is to give an opportunity to both disabled and non-disabled actors of various ages, gender, races and cultural backgrounds alike.
The film is a story about challenging your fears and not giving up, and describes the daily and ongoing struggles of real people often misconceived and discounted by society.
The film follows two young actors, Anthony Lopez and Rachel Handler, who are both amputees. They both seek for a way to reaffirm their belief in themselves and restart their careers after a long hiatus, and meet at Nicu’s Spoon Theater.
I discovered Nicu’s Spoon two years ago, and admired their mission and inclusiveness. I started filming their rehearsal process and preparation for a new performance of Anton Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard”, but very soon the performers’ powerful personal stories of overcoming challenges and breaking social stereotypes became my main interest. I filmed on-the-spot interviews with the actors, the rehearsal process, and also their everyday lives off-stage. I felt privileged to document Nicu’s Spoon and their unique atmosphere, and felt a connection with the cast members and staff.
“Two and Twenty Troubles is a beautiful, compassionate and up-lifting film. Victor Ilyukhin introduces us to one of the most unusual theater groups in New York, and then dissects their trials and tribulations, both individually and collectively, with utter sensitivity. We see actors soar not only because of their talent and courage, but because of their faith. And Victor’s cinematic celebration of these remarkable men and women will keep you completely engaged.”
– Michel Negroponte, an award-winning filmmaker
“Victor Ilyukhin’s documentary, Two and Twenty Troubles, is a beautifully rendered portrait painted with intimacy and dark humor. Chekhov would approve.”
– Donna Shepherd, an award-winning film editor