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The Chocolate Factory Theater Announces 18th Anniversary Season Featuring 10 Commissioned Premieres & More

The Chocolate Factory Theater Announces 18th Anniversary Season Featuring 10 Commissioned Premieres & More

The season will feature Phil Soltanoff and Steven Wendt (The Institute of Useless Activity) - THIS AND THAT, and more.

The Chocolate Factory Theater has announced its 18th season of performances - the second at its new permanent facility - featuring 10 Commissioned Premieres, 4 Supported Creative Residencies, and partnerships with Abrons Arts Center, ISSUE Project Room, Queens Museum, and The Bushwick Starr.

Unless otherwise noted, all events will take place at The (New) Chocolate Factory Theater, 38-33 24th Street, Long Island City NY 11101. Details and tickets at

Efrain Rozas - An Ocean of Forgiveness

Phil Soltanoff and Steven Wendt (The Institute of Useless Activity) - THIS AND THAT

September 7-24, 2022
Previews 9/7 - 9/9, official opening 9/10
Co-Presented with The Bushwick Starr
Performances will take place at The Chocolate Factory Theater

The Chocolate Factory Theater is thrilled to partner with The Bushwick Starr to present The Institute of Useless Activity's THIS AND THAT, co-created by international theater director Phil Soltanoff (2020 Herb Alpert Award recipient) and performer/puppeteer Steven Wendt (Blue Man Group). What is THIS? What is THAT? - THAT imagines the creation of the universe, THIS is about the people in it - their romantic sense of longing, loss, alienation and near miss... a cowboy sleeps under the stars, a family puts their child to sleep for the night, a crooner serenades his lover, a jazz pianist fantasizes while he plays. The vignettes morph from one scene to another- hand shadows inspired by the sculptures of Henry Moore dissolve into each scene.

Efraín Rozas - An Ocean of Forgiveness

September 17, 2022 at 4pm
An Ocean of Forgiveness is a new composition for live solo percussion composed and performed by Efraín Rozas (who most recently appeared at The Chocolate Factory with luciana achugar), which slowly conjures an intense polyrhythmic trance, using complex percussive patterns and the resonance of the architecture. Rozas will be joined by light artist Kazue Taguchi (Japan/NY) who will manipulate a light sculpture in real time during the show.

"It is very painful to look at trauma and history, without idealizing or rejecting a side of the story. To accept the complexity of being, beyond the rejection-idealization binary, locates us in a place of responsibility. A place of deep flexibility that erodes fixed ideological thinking. The first step in this direction is forgiveness. Forgiving is not forgetting. Rather, it is the bravest confrontation of everything others did to us, of what we did to others and ourselves, of what we allowed others to do to us. It is only then when we can start to write a new history. Only then can we break away from self perpetuating cycles and binaries."

David Thomson - VESSEL

October 26-29, 2022
VESSEL continues David Thomson's research into the perception of identity, and the ways in which presence and absence operate within the human experience. Within an intricate physical installation (aka the "vessel" of the title), Thomson and his collaborating performers - Jaguar Mary X, Katrina Reid, Katie Workum and Nehemoyia Young - embody a physical practice developed specifically for the project, navigating pathways of transformation and altered states.

VESSEL is thematically influenced by post-colonialist writer Édouard Glissant's Poetics of Relations, in which he explores the concept of opacity as the unquantifiable definition of 'other'; questioning our ability to truly know another or even ourselves within the constructs of socio-political identity. Thomson and his collaborators translate these questions into the semiotics of the visual, asking: how can we subvert the relationship between audience and performer and the deeply habitual act of visual interpretation as reimagine the poetics of presence?

VESSEL emphasizes practice over performance, asking all involved to engage their senses and imaginations in the process of listening on different - and deeper - levels; embracing the unseen as a palpable state of possibility.

Created and performed by David Thomson with Jaguar Mary X, Katrina Reid, Katie Workum and Nehemoyia Young. Visual Design by Peter Born and Athena Kokoronis. Sound Design by James Lo. Lighting Design by Stan Pressner. Production Stage Manager: Tricia Tolliver.
Andrea Kleine - The End Is Not What I Thought It Would Be
November 2022

Forced to jettison her original project due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Andrea Kleine moved into The Chocolate Factory Theater and lived in the performance space for two weeks in December 2020, kicking out the staff and creating a performance that no live audience would ever see. Insulated in the theater, Kleine searched for the piece in the real-time performance of her newly relocated everyday life. Her daily rehearsals and routines became a staged documentary film, revealing the quiet anxiety of living in quarantine and the dormant violence of isolation.

Featuring an original score by Bobby Previte and lighting design by Madeline Best, The End Is Not What I Thought It Would Be now exists as a full-length feature film.

TYGAPAW - Devil Woman (Obeah Woman)

November 12, 2022
Co-Presented with ISSUE Project Room at Queens Museum

2022 ISSUE Artist-In-Residence Dion TYGAPAW McKenzie presents the premiere of Devil Woman (Obeah Woman), an opera in three parts. Using Techno as their main genre of focus, the work urges us to renegotiate and expand our understanding of the genre. The opera forms a sonic narrative that draws from Jamaica's rich musical heritage-referencing national, patriotic, and traditional songs, and centers the unsung national hero Queen Nanny of the Maroons as it aims to recontextualize her historical narrative.
McKenzie repurposes and deconstructs these sounds deeply rooted in the island's colonial history as an effort to simultaneously decolonize operatic form and expand the potentiality of Techno's own colonized histories. The result exemplifies a profound sense of self-determination that asserts a new identity free from the constraints of external control.
Part 2 of Devil Woman (Obeah Woman) will be performed in progress at The Chocolate Factory Theater on October 1, 2022.

Martita Abril - Huevos a la Mexcla (creative residency)

November 14-19, 2022
Huevos a la Mexcla digs at the raw feelings and distortions generated by the arbitrary and intersecting physical and conceptual boundaries of race, culture, and laws - and attempts to conjure an objective sense of community and togetherness within those divisions.
Created and Performed by Martita Abril in collaboration with Jess Pretty and Martha Elena Quiñones Saucedo.

Ivy Baldwin - Untitled

December 7-17, 2022
Ivy Baldwin's newest work is a dance made with intense specificity for The Chocolate Factory Theater's new space - reveling in four dancers' by turns vulnerable, molting, and triumphant bodies; their operatic and primal voices; and the real-time morphing and mending of a large visual art installation made in collaboration with Ukraine/U.S-based visual artist Inna Babaeva.

Choreography and performance by Ivy Baldwin with Katie Dean, Kayvon Pourazar, and Saúl Ulerio. Music by Justin Jones. Visual and Costume Design in collaboration with Inna Babaeva. Lighting Design by Mandy Ringger.

Dana Michel (Montreal, CA) - TRUST STUDIES (creative residency)

January 9-15, 2023

"My life has been shrouded in mystery, overprotection, distance from the truth, hiding for protection. It is becoming clear that I subconsciously and now increasingly consciously gravitated towards performance - towards sharing my experiences of being alive in this body and mind - in order to advocate for vulnerability, openness, uncovering. In order to truly be there for co-regulate with others, I've had to learn to be there for myself and I could not begin to know how to be there for myself without at least trying to see myself. Humans need co-regulation, and we co-regulate with the highest level of efficiency and effectiveness when we are able to trust the other and trust ourselves."
The creation of TRUST STUDIES is a commitment to highlighting the idea that without trust in ourselves and in others, it is impossible to safely live public lives that reflect our interior lives. We are sure to stagnate in a state of half-life and disharmony...gridlocked in the endless traffic of not knowing how to respect or even truly recognize the other. We must believe each other. WE MUST LEARN HOW TO TRUST THE OTHER. We must first trust OUR TRUE SELVES in order to do this work.

Created and Performed by Dana Michel.

Leslie Cuyjet - (Untitled)

March 2023

"I know this story. It's a story I've loved again and again. All I know is my body moving through time. Reminding myself that I have blood pumping through me, and that has to be enough. I walk and walk to keep from standing still. I think of my pelvis sloshing around in a tangle of muscle and tendon. So tight and bound, perhaps a sprinkle of arthritis. But if I keep walking I feel that I can. And if I can, then at least I will keep moving."
Created and Performed by Leslie Cuyjet.

Aaron Landsman - Night Keeper

March 2023
Aaron Landsman's new performance is staged environmentally throughout The Chocolate Factory Theater's stark industrial space, juxtaposing spoken text with choreography, live music and projections.

Night Keeper unfolds as a series of short scenes and passages on the ways in which individual memories and experiences are collectively bound together by the passage of time - even if our view of one another is obscured; even if we occupy space differently.
Performed in dim light and, at times, total darkness, Night Keeper is a collection of moments which accumulate and interweave: a parent talks to a child who cannot sleep; a figure in darkness ruminates on the similar luminosity of lightning bugs and cell phones; another comments on the comings and goings in her building at night. Movement, lit by cell phones, activates the space, mirroring the text about lightning bugs and phone glows. Throughout, acclaimed guitarist and composer Norman Westberg (Swans) plays a live score of loops and samples, by turns delicate and intense.

Written and Directed by Aaron Landsman. Performed by Jehan Young and Jess Barbagallo. Music by Norman Westberg. Choreography by Hilary Clark. Assistant Director: Janine Cunningham.

Kathy Westwater - Choreomaniacs + Revolver

April 2023

Choreomaniacs, for five dancers, explores the phenomena of choreomania or "dancing plague" in which people danced themselves to death during the Middle Ages. An accompanying duet, Revolver, speaks to existential threat from super-catastrophes. Both deploy Westwater's choreographic approach - the disorganized body - in which postmodern dance forms are destabilized. A subtext that dance itself causes pain binds these two works together.

Choreography by Kathy Westwater with the performers. Choreomaniacs is performed by Rakia Seaborn, Stacy Lynn Smith, Alex Romania, Nattie Trogden, and Kathy Westwater. Revolver is performed by Lance Gries and Kathy Westwater. Music by Ava Mendoza. Set design by Seung Jae Lee. Lighting Design by Roderick Murray.
Juliana F. May - Family Happiness

Co-Commissioned and Co-Presented with Abrons Arts Center
Performances will take place in the Playhouse at Abrons Arts Center
May 3-13, 2023

Family Happiness is a new performance work about Jewish agression, unprocessed Jewish grief from the Holocaust, and current ramifications of those dynamics in Israel/Palestine. This piece continues May's decade-long investigation into bodily control and the complicated system of victimhood and perpetration; prioritizing a space for culpability and catharsis.

"I have long contended with the ways in which intergenerational Jewish trauma has played out in my upbringing, primarily through the lens of my maternal grandparents whose family were in concentration camps and subsequently fled Austria and Germany as teenagers to come to New York City."

"I worked on the beginning ideas of the piece during the pandemic in Tel Aviv where my partner has family. I am a choreographer, but there is a lot of text in my work. I wrote this project "treatment" on the tails of a dream I had about my father committing suicide and trump losing the election. It integrates set design ideas, characters, settings and introduces the symbol of the beach as the image of fake Jewish utopic redemption, which becomes prominent in song lyrics that will be sung throughout the show:"

"There's a figure of a boy who looks like a scarecrow next to a pitch fork, a bird and a half moon. He passes by the dog beach, the separate beach, the smoking beach and eventually arrives at the sex beach.There are hundreds of naked people sitting on top of each other with legs intertwined in a series of eights. The dogs migrate over to the sex beach.

Peripheral backward strokes follow a lunging and spreading and in an instant, the animals start to bite and peel skin away from bone, prying the upper extremities down towards the sand while the genitals remain connected like a roundabout on a playground. There is a rising smoke from the skinning like Christ being prepped with a soldering iron. The bodies smell like cocaine, synthetic cotton or some kind of polyblend as they thrash around in the sand trying to free themselves from each locked jaw. They get close to the water and almost break free but realize they don't know how to surf."

Family Happiness activates a disruptive and comedic space, exposing the titillation of trauma and its unbearable absurdity; illuminating cycles of oppression and patriarchal harm that many Jews have long thought themselves exempt from.

Choreography and Direction by Juliana May. Performed by Leslie Cuyjet, Tess Dworman, Lucy Kaminksky, Molly Poerstel and Kayvon Pourazar. Sound Design by Tatyana Tenenbaum. Lighting Design by Chloe Z. Brown. Set Design by Matt Shalzi. Costumes by Mariana Valencia.

Mallory Catlett / Restless NYC - DECODER: Nova Express

May 2023

Remember the future? Nova Express is the final edition of DECODER, a sound and image cutup machine, that has been turning out concerts, digital transmissions, video art, and sound recordings for the last 8 years. This Machine is for everyone - according to William Burroughs whose instructions were followed closely to create it. With two tape recorders and a microphone, performers Jim Findlay and cassette tape artist G Lucas Crane take you on an interstellar adventure into the prophetic imagination of The Nova Trilogy, Burroughs' 1960's space odyssey whose central character is the virus. Acting as both fictional characters and real-time systems operators, our time travelers cut internet debris into kaleidoscopic dreamscapes, prophetic pronouncements, and surreal routines of colonial fantasies and alien eroticism that expose their complicity in the systems that control them. Created pre, mid and "post" pandemic, Nova Express is a fever dream turned time machine that confronts the physical sensation of living today by traveling back to a time when the political problems we now face, became unavoidable.

Director Mallory Catlett returns to The Chocolate Factory with the same design team - G Lucas Crane (sound and video manipulation), Keith Skretch (video) and Ryan Holsopple (interaction design) - that created This Was The End at The Chocolate Factory in 2014. Now joined by performer/designer Jim Findlay, dramaturg Alex Wermer-Colan and lighting designer Kate McGee, they employ the same now expanded interactive system to remember the future.

Yanira Castro / a canary torsi - I came here to weep

June 2023

I came here to weep is a multimodal project that investigates colonial power, self-determination and complex relations of citizenship. It is made up of a series of events that interweave, thicken and inform one another, inviting the public to create their own engagement inside the work through multiple forms of witnessing, participating and activating the work. The project is composed of participatory scores for the public to enact, communal meals, dances for mourning, the re-composing and redaction of U.S. treaties as absurdist monologues, and a tea ritual developed with Girl Scouts Troop 6000 centering land/control/freedom/belonging. The environment is held by access facilitators who guide guests through in-person, virtual, audio, and print versions of the events. "I came here to weep" is a space for congregating, for manifesting with the public ways of inhabiting the work together.

Created by Yanira Castro in collaboration with Ariel Lembeck (Creative Production); LD DeArmon (Stage Management); Christopher "Unpezverde" Núñez (Access Artistry); Stephan Moore (Sound); Kathy Couch (Light & Environment); Rosana Cabán (Sound Sculpture); Martita Abril, Leslie Cuyjet, and devynn emory (Performance); Girl Scouts Troop 6000; Katie Dean (Graphic Design).

Raymond Pinto and Angie Pittman - With a Little Warmth to Light the Way

June 2023

The centralization of collaboration between Raymond Pinto and Angie Pittman will beckon the destabilizing of hierarchies in their individual creative practices. With this intention in place, they call upon a collective imagination that will augment the aesthetic frames of blackness and queerness.

With a Little Warmth to Light the Way recalls movements like the Civil Rights Movement or Black Arts Movement; asking: what if the Black Arts Movement was infused into a physical movement? If the Black Arts Movement were a body, what parts of the body aren't being listened to in this movement? What was the underneath like? By researching and listening to musical compositions of black artists who were active between the years of 1960-1975, they propose a corporealization of the Black Arts Movement as a collective moving imagination; bringing it to the body, through the body.

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