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The New York Times Arts & Leisure Weekend On Sale Now

As one of New York's most anticipated cultural events to kick off the new year, The New York Times Arts & Leisure Weekend features must-see speakers from theater, art, dance, film, music, literature and media.James McAvoy

Pre-sale tickets for 2010's installment of Arts & Leisure weekend are now available. The four-day TimesTalks event will take place from Jan. 7 through Jan. 10, 2010 at the TimesCenter in Midtown Manhattan.

Joining some of The New York Times' journalists are NBC late-night host Jimmy Fallon, Precious director Lee Daniels and the film's star Gabourey Sidibe, Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi and judges Gail Simmons and Tom Colicchio, Golden Globe award-nominated actor James McAvoy (Wanted, Atonement) and more guests still to be announced. There will be a special opening night discussion with Cirque du Soleil writer-director David Shiner, choreographer Jared Grimes and dancers from the cast. A performance will follow.

The latest addition to this year’s line-up is the five-time Tony Award-winning star of A Little Night Music, Angela Lansbury interviewed by Anthony Tommasini

• Previously announced is the star of the new film Crazy Heart, Jeff Bridges interviewed by Lynn Hirschberg

• Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash interviewed by Jon Pareles

• Best-selling crime novel authors Lee Child (Gone Tomorrow) and Carol O’Connell (Bone by Bone) interviewed by Janet Maslin

• Tony Award-winning actor Alan Cumming interviewed by Patrick Healy

• Director and star of the award-winning new indie film Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire, Daniels and Sidibe interviewed by Patricia Cohen

• NBC late-night talk show host Fallon interviewed by Bill Carter

• Author and star of the autobiographical Broadway show Wishful Drinking, Carrie Fisher interviewed by David Carr

• Pulitzer Prize-winning playwrights Beth Henley, Donald Margulies and John Patrick Shanley interviewed by Robin Pogrebin

• Talent from Bravo’s hit television reality show Top Chef, Padma Lakshmi, Eric Ripert and Gail Simmons interviewed by Frank Bruni

• Golden Globe-nominated actor James McAvoy interviewed by Melina Ryzik

All My Children creator and head writer Agnes Nixon, actors Rebecca Budig, Susan Lucci, Cameron Mathison, Debbi Morgan and executive producer Julie Hanan Carruthers discussing the 40th anniversary of the groundbreaking daytime drama, with Jacques Steinberg

• Star of Jim Sheridan’s film Brothers, Natalie Portman interviewed by Patrick Healy

• The star of the upcoming Broadway revival of Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge, Liev Schreiber interviewed by Lynn Hirschberg

• Performers from Cirque du Soleil’s Banana Shpeel with writer-director David Shiner and choreographer Jared Grimes interviewed by Jason Zinoman.

Tickets are $30 per event and are general admission. Additional information and announcements to come are available at

The New York Times Arts & Leisure Weekend
Jan. 7 to Jan. 10, 2010
242 West 41st Street
New York City

Circle Mirror Transformation Briefly Returns

Playwrights Horizons' recent production of Annie Baker's play Circle Mirror Transformation is returning for a limited engagement.

The play, which chronicles the lives and happenings of four small-town Vermont residents who have enrolled in a drama-class experiment at the local community center, will be performed at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater in Lincoln Square from Dec. 15, 2009 to Jan. 17, 2010. The comedy features Obie Award-winners Reed Birney, Deirdre O'Connell and Heidi Schreck, as well as Tracee Chimo and Tony Award-nominee Peter Friedman.

Tuesday through Friday performances start at 7:30 p.m. Saturday performances are held at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday performances take place at 2 and 7 p.m. Added Monday evening performances for Dec. 21 and Dec. 28 start at 7:30 p.m.

More information on Circle Mirror Transformation's brief return to the theater can be found at:

Circle Mirror Transformation
Limited Engagement
Dec. 15, 2009 to Jan. 17, 2010
Peter Jay Sharp Theater
416 West 42nd Street
New York, NY 10036

Columbia University Premieres KafkaFest

MFA Directing students in their second year at the prestigious Columbia University, School of Art have just premiered KafkaFest, the first festival of its kind to feature Franz Kafka-inspired works.

KafkaFest is a 10-day venture of new theater and art sparked by the work of this famed fiction writer. From Dec. 3 through Dec. 13, 2009, Columbia students will put on six original shows for free to the public in various locations on the university's campus.

The schedule of performances includes:

Rain Machine

directed by Kon Yi
Dec. 4 to Dec. 6, 2009
Horace Mann Theater
8 p.m. Friday & Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday

A Letter to My Father
directed by James Rutherford
Dec. 4 to Dec. 13, 2009
Conference Room, Schapiro Hall
8 p.m. 12/4, 8 & 10 p.m. 12/5, 5 p.m. 12/6, 8 p.m. 12/7, 8 p.m., 12/9, 8 & 11 p.m. 12/11, 7 & 10 p.m. 12/12, 5 p.m. 12/13

Room 603
directed by Carin White
Dec. 10 to Dec. 13, 2009
Room 603, Dodge Hall
8 p.m. Thursday & Friday, 4 & 6 p.m. Saturday & Sunday

directed by Jess Smith
Dec. 10 to Dec. 13, 2009
Schapiro Theatre
8 p.m. Thursday, 7 p.m. Friday, 2 & 7 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday

Kafka Parables
directed by Jonathan Vandenberg
Dec. 11 to Dec. 13, 2009
Horace Mann Theater
8 p.m. Friday & Saturday, 3 p.m. Saturday & Sunday

Look Away
directed by Anna Brenner
Dec. 10 to Dec, 13, 2009
Schapiro Theatre
9 p.m. Friday, 3 & 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday

In addition to the Kafka-driven performances, the Columbia School of Art will also feature other artists within the university community. Arrive before the performances, and there will be pre-show discussions with Anne Bogart, Gideon Lester and more to be announced.

To reserve tickets and find additional information, head over to:

Dec. 3 to Dec. 13, 2009
Columbia University, various locations

615 West 115th Street
New York, NY 10025

Fight Fest Cracks Heads

Fight Fest is a theater festival dedicated to showcasing the art of stage combat. It runs from December 4 to 20, 2009 at The Brick Theater, 575 Metropolitan Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

This three-week theater festival of fight choreography is curated by Timothy Haskell, Abby Marcus and Qui Nguyen of Vampire Cowboys Theatre Company, with the staff of The Brick.

Stage combat is one of the unsung arts of the theater. Says Haskell, "People are incorporating stage combat into their productions more and more now because it adds a level of excitement to the theatre that audiences are craving.

"I have always said that most people would rather spend their money on a bad action movie then a good play, so bringing some of those populist ideas to such an intimate setting brings in a  whole new audience that gets excited by such things. It has become very important for actors to have these skills, whether it be for the movies or for the stage, but the fight directors have been largely unrecognized.

"These productions don’t exist without them. This festival in many ways is a celebration of this new, electric, populist theatre that people are very excited about, as well as an opportunity to acknowledge all of the brilliant fight directors who are the driving forces behind them."

Famed fight companies and artists will present work for the first time ever under one roof. From rapier, to chainsaw, martial arts, trash cans, pirate skirmish, firearms, brawling broads, cartoon violence, simian combat and everything in between—all forms of stage battle will be represented. The shows are:

The Ninja Cherry Orchard - In early 1900's Russia, the Ranevsky country estate must be sold for debts. But will the family sell their beloved cherry trees? Will the lovelorn affections of a fading aristocracy triumph over common sense? Or will a 14th-Century Japanese assassin slaughter everyone? Presented by The Brick Theater, Inc. Fight Directed by Qui Nguyen and Alexis Black; assistant directed by Gyda Arber; written and directed by Michael Gardner.

Butterfly, Butterfly, Kill Kill Kill!, inspired by Japanese B-movie director Seijun Suzuki’s 1967 accidental masterpiece Branded to Kill. Presented by Depth Charge. Fight directed by Patrick Harrison, Adam Mazer, Ian Picco; written and directed by Patrick Harrison.

The Buccaneer, a swashbuckling comedy romance. The Buccaneer awakens to find himself blade-to-blade with the Red Leather Fox, an assassin hired by his jilted bride. He must use all his wits to win back his true love's heart while staying one step ahead of the nefarious plots of the evil Queen of Spain. Presented by FightO LLP. Written, Fight directed by Jacob Grigolia-Rosenbaum.  craven monkey

Craven Monkey and the Mountain of Fury is a martial-arts fairy tale in which monkeys and monsters beat the crap out of each other. Can one perverted simian overcome his family, a gang of grotesque predators and Mother Nature herself to evolve to the next level of life? Or will he end up just another damn dead monkey? Presented by Piper McKenzie Productions. Conceived by Hope Cartelli and Jeff Lewonczyk; written and directed by Jeff Lewonczyk and created by the Company. Fight Directed by Qui Nguyen and Adam Swiderski.

Deck The Hallmans! is an improvised holiday sitcom (with fights) revolving around Bob and Carol Hallman's Christmas celebration.  The holiday is looking bright for the whole Hallman family, who look forward to celebrating in heavenly peace. Who would fight on Christmas?  Before the evening is over you, too, will want to Deck The Hallmans! Presented by Ten Directions. Improvised by the ensemble from a concept by Audrey Crabtree; directed by Audrey Crabtree; Fight Directed by Adam Swiderski.

Power Burn 3 - When two women must compete for the same promotion at a fitness company, corporate in-fighting spills out of the conference room and onto the mean streets. These ladies don't mind a few broken heels - or broken ribs. Presented by Cat Fight Productions. Fight Directed by Carrie Brewer; written by Alana McNair and Kate Wilkinson; directed by Stephen Brackett.

Last Life - In a burnt-out world, the few remaining inhabitants are at the end of a long, indefinable war. The survivors, not knowing what they are even fighting for, vow to destroy each other and control what remains. Starring Taimak (of the legendary fight film The Last Dragon). Presented by Big Time Action Theatre. Fight directed by Rod Kinter; written by Eric Sanders; directed by Timothy Haskell.

Evolution presents a creative imagining of the genesis of the "badass" from the dawn of man through modern day. A cast of 24 fighters using martial arts, broadswords, spears, guns, rapiers, axes, katanas, switchblades, clubs, smallswords, tomahawks, rocks and anything they can get their hands on explores fighting techniques that have helped shape history—and "badassery!" Presented by En Garde Entertainment. Fight directed by David Dean Hastings; conceived & written by Alexandra Hastings and David Dean Hastings; directed by Alexandra Hastings.

The festival will also feature several cabarets, including a free preview of the mainstage shows on opening night.

The Zombie Project: The Story of Icarus Phoenix is a glimpse of what will hopefully be a full-length production in the near future. The play details the beginning of the zombie attacks and the creation of someone who could be the savior of the world. A girl has to decide if she gives up or if she will use her self-taught skills and wits to overcome the situation into which she's been thrown. A short work written, directed and fight-directed by Stephanie Cox-Williams.

With the theater’s intimate setting, the audience can see every kick, punch and flip right in their faces. And, unlike in film, there’s no room for editing or second takes.

"We’re going to see a level of choreography rarely seen on stage," adds Haskell. "There’s going to be a lot of honesty, as much as possible without someone getting hurt."

Fight Fest Cabaret - Youngblood returns to The Brick!

New York's most exciting troupe of emerging playwrights bring the fury with five brand new short plays featuring beatings, mayhem and assorted onstage violence. Catch this very special sneak preview before these plays are featured in the January 3, 2010, episode of Youngblood's monthly Sunday Brunch series, The Fight Brunch!

For more information, visit:

Fight Fest
December 1-20
, 2009
The Brick
575 Metropolitan Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11211

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