Henry Holden in the Nicu’s Spoon production of “Richard III.”
Photo: Trinidad Mac-Auliffe
Shortly after signing an eight-year lease in April, the company is offering Shakespeareâ€™s â€œRichard IIIâ€ at the newly named Spoon Theater. â€œRichard III,â€ directed by Heidi Lauren Duke, is typical Nicuâ€™s Spoon fare, which means it is not at all typical. The company, run by its artistic director, Stephanie Barton-Farcas, attempts to challenge stereotypes by collaborating with artists from across the spectrum of ethnicities and abilities; a production of â€œBuried Childâ€ last year featured a spoken performance by a deaf actor accustomed to performing in American Sign Language.
In â€œRichard III,â€ Henry Holden is Shakespeareâ€™s villainous king who was â€œcheated of feature by dissembling natureâ€ and, partly out of bitterness at his physical deformity, resorts to evil. In the mouth of Mr. Holden, who contracted polio in 1952 at 4 and walks with crutches, Richardâ€™s words take on a more particular meaning, focusing the play directly and inescapably on the issue of disability.
Nicuâ€™s Spoon has dedicated its entire current season to the theme of disability and will hold a panel discussion on July 31 called â€œBeyond Handicaps and Handouts: The New Face of Disability in the Arts.â€ Panelists will include, among others, Ms. Barton-Farcas, Mr. Holden and Ike Shambelan, the co-artistic director of Theater by the Blind.
Nicuâ€™s Spoon is also offering a summer reading series. Scheduled for Monday is â€œIdentity,â€ a semi-autobiographical piece by Nicholas Linnehan, a playwright with cerebral palsy. (Mr. Linnehan plays the lead role, too.) â€œForgiveness of the Saints,â€ a black comedy by Christian Gaul, is on Tuesday. (â€œRichard IIIâ€ runs through July 29, Wednesday through Sunday at 8 p.m., Spoon Theater, 38 West 38th Street, fifth floor, Manhattan, 212-352-3101, theatermania.com; $18. Information on the panel discussion, readings and fall productions is at spoontheater.org.) STEVEN McELROY