By EDWARD RUBIN
“Every time I have sex I get into a relationship. Every time I get into a relationship I stop having sex. I found the Bermuda Triangle. It is between my legs. Everyone who goes there disappears out of my life.” – Penny Arcade from Longing Lasts Longer
After three years of globetrotting her one-woman show, Longing Lasts Longer, the eminently quotable performance artist Penny Arcade, is back at Joe’s Pub at NYC’s Public Theatre. Arcade, is an uncanny in-your-face, truth-telling Cassandra, whom people can actually believe.
For three Tuesday evenings, one of which is already a fond memory, the internationally acclaimed performer and her longtime technical director Steve Zehentner – a genius director of light, sound, and video -are workshopping The Girl Who Knew Too Much, Arcade’s latest provocative show.
As the press release warned us, among the hot button subjects that Arcade would be tackling in her usual ironic,, humor-laced and jaw-dropping style would be the culture of rape, victimhood, political correctness, and the normalization of self-censorship. She would also ask the question of our times. Who gets to speak and for whom? And deliver she did, this with a vengeance.
Wearing all black, which made her long straight platinum tresses stand out even more, Arcade, in heavy working mode, spent most of the evening standing close to a music stand upon which her work-in-progress script rested.
Sometimes Arcade read a section from the script. At other times, she read only the first line, and knowing what she wanted to say, she continued her story-telling, often introduced by hand-picked songs, in the improv style for which she is justly famous. At other times, Arcade stopped in mid-stream to talk with Zehentner, who was offstage, to notate (and set) certain music, dance and sound cues.
Judging from the audience’s response the night that I attended, The Girl Who Knew Too Much is going to be another solid hit for the forever feisty performer. In addition to Joe’s Pub’s reasonably-priced drink and food menu and the conviviality of Arcade’s minions, there was a feeling we were both privy and privileged to be present at the show’s birthing, which of course gives us bragging rights forever.
Once this work in progress is fine-tuned and set, Arcade will travel it around the world much like she did with her earlier one-woman shows or with additional cast members like her international hit, Bitch! Dyke! Faghag! Whore!
Below are three extremely telling snippets from The Girl Who Knew Too Much. I think of them, and you should too, as teasers, that will guarantee when this show opens for a full run, you will be there front and center.
“When I was a little girl in the 1950’s we watched cowboy movies every Saturday and Sunday afternoon and they were always about water rights. The bad guys were stealing the water and the good guys were trying to free the water. And by the time I was 9 years old I was an emotional wreck till I hit 11 and realized that the fight for water was in the past…in the old days…then in the 60’s people started saying that in 20 years we wouldn’t be able to drink the water that we would have to drink bottled water, but we couldn’t imagine that….but then starting around 1985 everyone started drinking bottled water, so I understand the glacial pace of change. Now it is being said that in 30 years there won’t be any water to drink. The Bush family has been buying water rights for decades. So I’m right back to where I was when I was 9 years old, worried about water.”
“We live in a culture where everyone is supposed to win. But not everybody wins. A lot of people have to lose. Every day we’re being told, you can have it all. Be positive. If you’re not a millionaire, it’s your fault. You’re creating the sorrow in your life. If you were clear, you too would be a millionaire. There is no limit to what we can achieve in our lives, which is empirically impossible. Now everyone is now expected to be an instant expert. The whole idea of development over time is out the wind down. There is a now an online master class for everything taught by the world’s greatest minds. Steve Martin teaches standup comedy, Ron Howard teaches directing. Samuel Jackson teaches acting, Frank Geary is teaching architecture….in one weekend. This is a corporate model. Become an expert on one thing and one thing only and you will be able to charge more per hour.”
“I don’t understand the whole ‘Black Lives Matter’ thing about the police killing people, but that is what the police are supposed to do. That is their job! They’re supposed to kill people. That’s why they have guns. I know a lot of people are concerned about the police killing black people, but the police are supposed to kill black people. Not all the black people. Not the black people who went to college. They’re supposed to kill the other black people, the black people who won’t go to college.”
The Girl Who Knew Too Much, written, conceived, and performed by Penny Arcade and directed by Penny Arcade and Steve Zehentner, continues at Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater, 425 Lafayette Street in New York. Live sound mixing is by Steve Zehentner. For general information, call 212-539-8500 or click here. Tickets by phone at the box office at 212-967-7555 Box Office hours: Monday – Saturday, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m., Sunday, 12 noon – 6 p.m.