Sunday, March 1, 2009

Frigid New York: Recess

By Le-Anne
one woman show • uses multi-media • a bare-bones production

BOTTOM LINE: Recess is a raw look at life through the eyes of seven-year-old NYC public school children as told by one young woman.

Hats off to the New York Frigid Festival. The Horse Trade Theatre Group in association with Exit Theatre (the theatre company that runs the San Francisco Fringe Festival) and CAFF (The Canadian association of Fringe Festivals) have created a festival that stands out from the crowd. Unlike it’s popular counterparts, the New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF), the Midtown Theatre Festival, and the popular summertime Fringe Festival, this wintertime version strives to stay true to the grassroots experiment. The Frigid gives 100% of the box office sales back the artists. They also do not take any royalties from future productions. Because they are not focused on the commercial success of each production the Frigid is a real hot bed for creativity, experimental theatre, and freedom of expression. This also means that they are able to keep their ticket prices down...way down, shows are only $8-$16 or you can purchase a Festival Pass and see three shows for $30. At $10 a pop, that’s cheaper than a movie! Another uniquely Frigid thing is that they rotate the over one-hundred-fifty performances among Horse Trade’s three intimate theatre spaces in the East Village, (Under St. Mark’s, Kraine, and The Red Room). So while other festivals have gone quite mainstream and bougie, Frigid has a very proletariat feel. You can make a day of it, enjoying the eclectic ambiance of the East Village you pound the pavement trucking between shows, maybe even grabbing a quick bite from one of the great hole-in-the-wall eateries or cafes that the Village has to offer, filling your day with art, theatre, and the spirit of community.

Recess, by Keep it Movin’ Productions, is one of the thirty productions being presented at Frigid. This one-woman show is written and performed by Asian-American actress, Una Aya Osato and directed by Moises Belizario. In this fiercely honest piece Osato explores the youth of the NYC public school system, in particular the students of a second grade class in the Bronx. Through an innovative use of mixing live performance with projected video performance, Osato is able to interact with herself as she portrays a wide range of characters. Through the eyes of these children, we see a heartbreaking range of potential and lack thereof. Osato humorously portrays one young boy who has no idea that he has any sort of potential and juxtaposes him with another character, Sherita, a young girl who knows her potential but doesn’t believe she has any way to achieve it. This character was the spring board for Recess, inspired by the 5-year-old daughter of one of Osato’s best friends. The little girl announced at her mother’s wake, “It’s ok to cry everyone, crying’s ok, but it’s not gonna change nothing, it’s not gonna bring my mommy back.” A direct quote, Osato delivered this line in her play, and you could almost feel the eerie sadness mixed with a desire to create change and hope for our youth spread through the audience.

(Recess performs at The Kraine Theater/ 85 East 4th St., New York, NY 10003. It runs 1 hour with no intermission. Sun., March 01 @ 4pm, Thurs., March 05 @ 7:30pm, Sat., March 07 @ 1pm. Tickets are $15, $12 for students and seniors and are available by calling Smarttix at 212-868-4444 or online at

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