The Spaghetti Dinner is about to become a movable feast. The Great Small Works Theater has announced that it is moving its monthly spaghetti dinner from Performance Space 122 in the East Village, where it has been for the past 18 years. At these evenings, the audience enjoys pasta while watching a variety of music, film, spoken word, puppetry, and theater performances. A number of the Great Small Works artists have a connection to the Bread and Puppet Theater, which distributes bread to the audience; the Spaghetti Dinner distributes another food of the carbohydrate family, spaghetti with garlic, along with Pugliese bread donated by the Sullivan Street Bakery. The audience viewed original fliers from the very first performances, which had been saved by one of the group's founders, a theater professor at Marymount Manhattan College, Joanne Schultz.
Members of the Ninth Street Theatre founded the Spaghetti Dinner in 1978. They originally performed in a storefront on East 9th Street before moving to the Bond Street Theater in 1985. A year later, they moved to P.S. 122 on First Avenue.
The group plans to move around before settling on its next long-term home. Next month, the company members - John Bell, Trudi Cohen, Stephen Kaplin, Jenny Romaine, Roberto Rossi, and Mark Sussman - will perform at Judson Church. They have been offered locations that include Here Arts Center, Theater for the New City, and St. Ann's Warehouse.
In their final performance at P.S. 122 on Saturday, they played on the theme of their impending move. Their opening skit was called "Where Exactly Do We Go From Here?" which echoes the title of a well-known speech by Martin Luther King Jr. Performers ran around frantically but froze in place when one of them began to read poetry. At the close of the piece, a rap performer accompanying the Circus Amok Band asked various actors and actresses where to go next. One replied, "I'm going to bed," and another answered, "Exit, stage left."
In other acts, Bernice Silver performed a variety of riffs and gags using hand puppets of a turtle, a dog, and other barnyard figures. Basil Twist performed a stickman marionette over a nearly nude woman. The difference in scale between the marionette and the woman evoked someone scaling a voluptuous Mount Rushmore. Jim Neu and the actress Black Eyed Susan performed his one-act play "Spin Cycle," which takes place in a Laundromat when a man meets a woman who believes the actress Barbara Stanwyck is literally divine. Black Eyed Susan will perform in Susan Sontag's "A Parsifal" at P.S. 122 beginning February 23.
During intermission, a Jewish rockabilly band called the Sway Machinery played. Later, puppeteer and Barnard College senior lecturer Amy Trompetter performed "Punch and Judy," where Mr. Punch makes mayhem with his infant child and then bludgeons his wife. A policeman in Irish brogue tells him he is "under arrest," and Punch replies "underdressed?" before bludgeoning him. A ghost, a devil, and finally a crocodile further pursue Punch.
In the audience were many from the theater and arts community, including a former director of P.S. 122, Mark Russell; Claire Ellis, who sings northern Indian music; a scholar of Javanese exorcism, John Pemberton; puppeteer Howie Leifer; dancer and interior designer Maggie McManus, who lives in Nyack; painter Ersilia Crawford; the artistic director of St. Ann's Warehouse, Susan Feldman; Barbara Busackino of Here Arts Center; fashion designer Kelly Horrigan; performance artist Daniel Lang; poet Sally Fisher; writer Lee Houck, who has written a gay thriller novel;downtowntv.comproducer Steve Paul; and program director of "Science & the Arts" at CUNY Graduate Center, Adrienne Klein.
HISTORY AWARDS At the 120th annual meeting of the American Historical Association on Friday in Philadelphia, New Yorkers were among those honored with awards and prizes. Columbia University professor Pamela Smith won the Leo Gershoy Award for her book "The Body of the Artisan: Art and Experience in the Scientific Revolution" (University of Chicago Press).The award recognizes the most outstanding work in English in any area of 17th- and 18th-century Western European history. Hunter College professor emerita Nancy Siraisi won an AHA award for scholarly distinction, given to senior historians who have spent the bulk of their professional careers in America. Her research examines the history of science and medicine during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Barnard College professor Mark Carnes received the William Gilbert Award, honoring contributions to the teaching of history through publication of articles. He won for an article about a program he began at Barnard called "Reacting to the Past," where students learn ideas by debating and discussing them. SUNY Purchase professor Sarah Gordon won a Gutenberg electronic book prize for her dissertation at Rutgers University on home sewing, gender, and culture from 1890-1930.
The Mellon Foundation will provide Ms. Gordon with a $20,000 fellowship to revise her manuscript, which Columbia University Press plans to publish in electronic form.