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SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY

A big country with a rich cultural history, India keeps its traditions alive while creating environments for innovating into the future. Drive East, an annual festival of South Asian music and dance, is produced by the midtown-based Navatman, which aims to create a sustainable home in the metropolitan area for classical forms. In an intimate East Village space, at multiple shows nightly, you can commune with expert practitioners of dance forms both familiar and rare, including Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Kuchipudi, Sattriya, and Chhau; listen to diverse music including a jam by an Afro-Indian fusion ensemble, and encounter experiments by participants in a new collaborative residency.

Mondays-Sundays, 6 p.m. Starts: Aug. 11. Continues through Aug. 17, 2014

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Living NYC ARCHIVES VOICE CHOICES ARCHIVES Where To

MOON MAN

Tom Murrin, aka the Alien Comic, died two years ago, leaving a void in the downtown performance community. The unlikely art star, who began his professional life as a lawyer in Beverly Hills, moved to Manhattan in the mid 1960s, where he started writing plays. Later he acted as well, following his bliss into a full-blown, mess-making mobile nursery school showcased at P.S. 122 in its glory years. A mentor to innovators like Lucy Sexton and Annie Iobst of Dancenoise, Mimi Goese, and Jo Andres, he corralled them into a series of “Full Moon Shows,” and covered theater for PAPER magazine for 16 years. The Tom Murrin Full Moon Performance Festival celebrates his life and works, wrapping a history of Off-Off-Broadway in performances and readings by film and stage actors including Steve Buscemi, Karen Finley, Jennifer Miller, Sharon Hayes, and others, and saucing everything with discussions, exhibitions of his visual productions and videos, and street shows, culminating in a parade around La MaMa’s many East Village spaces.

Mondays-Sundays, 7 p.m. Starts: April 17. Continues through April 27, 2014

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ART ARCHIVES CULTURE ARCHIVES Theater

Sit! Stay! Act!

Without men like John, how would women sing the blues? Though Rose loves John, a loutish downtown filmmaker, he abuses and abandons her. Still, she returns to him, her eyes pleading, her lips eager, her nose wet.

You see, Rose, the heroine of Lee Breuer’s La Divina Caricatura at La MaMa, is a dog. Which is how John treats her. In this “mixed-media pop-opera,” a co-production with St. Ann’s Warehouse, she recounts her debilitating passion for John and the havoc it wreaks on her canine life.

Designed by puppet-maker Julie Archer, our shaggy protagonist seems little more than a heap of burlap sacking and old socks, but in the skillful hands of bunraku puppeteers and the honey-soaked voice of Bernardine Mitchell, Rose acquires full and captivating life. When she and John dance, you feel her delight. When he deserts her, her anguish pervades the theater. In the throes of heartbreak, she and the chorus bewail their fate: “We sisters/We bitches/We prisoners of love.”

No mere puppy love, Rose’s passion for John plays out in frankly and unnervingly sexual terms — interspecies puppet fellatio included. Their doomed romance, spoken in blank verse and sung via Lincoln Schleifer’s jazz and r&b score, takes her to Hollywood, drives her to despair, pushes her into the arms of a lesbian rabbit, and thrusts her on to a bus bound for the Institute of the Science of Soul, a rehab center run by and for animals in Cheesequake, New Jersey.

As its subtitle suggests, Divina, the first section of a planned trilogy, is too long and often too indulgent — John looks an awful lot like Breuer; the numerous Dante references get us nowhere. To call the recursive structure episodic is to give it almost too much credit. It hardly seems an accident that Rose quotes Marshall McLuhan’s “Art is anything you can get away with.” Breuer has long intuited and exemplified that tenet.

A downtown bricoleur, Breuer creates assemblages of influences and impulses. At first pass, Divina‘s collage — African-American music, Japanese puppetry, East Village Buddhism, medieval Italian lit — feels like a put-up job, a dare. And yet, Divina is made distinct by the force, drive, and antic joy with which Breuer crashes these elements together. He simply isn’t the kind of artist you can keep on a leash.

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VOICE CHOICES ARCHIVES Where To

RISING UP

Since 1992, the theater director, choreographer, and activist Ping Chong has been shining a light on issues of gender, class, race, and religion to educate communities all over the world. In honor of the 20th anniversary of his performance series, La MaMa presents Ping Chong + Company’s Undesirable Elements Festival: Real People. Real Stories. Real Theater, a selection of the best works from the nearly 50 created over the past two decades that take interviews with real people and turn them into moving, thought-provoking theater. On the program are Cry for Peace: Voices From the Congo, Secret Survivors (featuring adult survivors of child sexual abuse), and Inside/Out (which concerns the disability community). Plus, catch panel discussions, live streams of performances, and the screening of a new documentary Secret Survivors: Using Theater to Break the Silence.

Mondays-Sundays, 8 p.m. Starts: Oct. 18. Continues through Nov. 4, 2012

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Living NYC ARCHIVES VOICE CHOICES ARCHIVES Where To

‘Chris Rael’s Araby’

Best known for his sophisticated India-tinged rock, Rael has set fifteen stories from James Joyce’s Dubliners to music in Araby, a multimedia “chamber musical” for nine-piece ensemble. Autobiographical interludes punctuate 15 story-songs sung from Joyce’s characters’ POV. Rael’s videos of Dublin open windows onto the city’s soul.

Sat., Aug. 13, 2:30 p.m.; Wed., Aug. 17, 6:15 p.m.; Fri., Aug. 19, 2 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 20, noon; Sun., Aug. 21, noon, 2011