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 touring her one woman show, Longing Lasts Longer around the world, the eminently quotable performance artist Penny Arcade, an uncanny in-your-face, truth-telling Cassandra is back at Joe’s Pub at NYC’s Public Theatre.
For three Tuesday evenings, one of which is already a fond memory, the internationally acclaimed performer, and her longtime technical director, Steve Zehentner (genius of light, sound, and video), are work-shopping, The Girl Who Knew Too Much, Arcade’s latest provocative show. The press release cautioned that Arcade would be delivering on a list of hot button issues, in her usual ironic and humor-laced jaw-dropping style. That includes 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 to whom? And deliver she did…with a vengeance!
Wearing all black, making her long straight platinum tresses standout 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 (actors call it being off book) she continued her story-telling, often introduced by hand-picked songs, in a kind improv style for which she is justly famous.
At other times Arcade stopped in mid-stream to talk with co-director, Steve Zehentner, who was off stage, notating (and setting) 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. The gift of the evening, in addition to Joe’s Pub reasonably priced drink and food menu, and the conviviality of Arcade’s converts, was that we all felt privileged to be in on the show’s birthing, giving us bragging rights forever.
Left: Penny Arcade. photo, Edward Rubin
Like all of Arcade’s works in progress-whether solo or shows like her international hit, Bitch! Dyke! Faghag! Whore!, once the production is good shape, Arcade will tour it around the world.
Below are three extremely telling snippets from The Girl Who Knew Too Much. I think of them, and you should too, as teasers, ones that will guarantee that when this show opens for a full run you will be want to be there, front and center. I know I will.
“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.”
By Edward Rubin, Contributing Editor
Tuesday, March 13 Doors Open 9PM, Showtime 9:30PM
Tuesday, March 20 Door Open 9PM, Showtime 9:30P
Written, Conceived, and Performed By Penny Arcade
Directed by Penny Arcade and Steve Zehentner
Live Sound, Mixing Steve Zehentner
Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater
425 Lafayette Street, New York
General Info: 212-539-8500
Tickets by phone 212-967-7555
Box Office: Monday – Saturday, 11am-7pm, Sunday 12pm-6pm