Five years ago LaMama theater presented this wonderful ‘Coffeehouse Chronicles’ examining the contemporary puppet theater from the 1970s to 2015.I thought it would bring some joy to those that missed this wonderful event and others to repost in these difficult times.
From the ‘press release: a multi-disciplinary spectacle with a marching band, dancers, 12-foot puppets, shadow puppetry and moving projection screens. The band is an award-winning group, the Soul Tigers, young men and women who attend Benjamin Banneker High School in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Also featured are the Banneker Dancers.
In the spirit of rebirth, renewal, and the resurrection of the spirit, curator and host Nicky Paraiso addresses the current political and social climate in a serious attempt to investigate and celebrate the origins of cabaret.
Although the 19th-century French definition referred to any business serving liquor, a cabaret in the early 20th century was an informal salon or safe place, as it were, where poets, artists, and composers could share ideas and compositions, present new works-in-progress and decry the political ills of the day. Exemplary writers and performers extraordinaire are invited to respond to recent life-changing and transformational events while songs continue to be sung with entertaining consequence.
I have always enjoyed walking into the LaMama Annex building. Massive ceilings and great seating for so many audience members. Yesterday I was there to interview Lois Weaver and Peggy Shaw. Their new show titled “Unexploded Ordnances” had opened at LaMama and I was interested in what the show’s origin was. Here is the interview.
The show which is part of ‘Under the Radar‘ Festival listed on the LaMama website with this text.
US Premiere By Split Britches [Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver]
Unexploded Ordnances (UXO) by Split Britches is a new exploration of aging, anxiety and ‘doomsday’ created through conversation and collaboration with an array of elders and artists. Developed between the UK and US, Lois Weaver and Peggy Shaw have created a unique production, combining darkly playful Dr. Strangelove-inspired performance with a daring new protocol for public discussion – the Situation Room.
Here are 3 photographs I captured during the evening performance!
Lois Weaver (seated) with Peggy Shaw confronting with ideas she isn’t happy with.
Lois Weaver reclines in a rocking chair trying to get some rest from the confrontation.
Lois Weaver on the phone talking to the General with dismay.
Follies in Titus is directed by Italy’s Dario D’Ambrosi, the originator of the theatrical movement called Teatro Patologico (Pathological Theater), who re-imagines Shakespeare’s “Titus Andronicus,” retelling the bard’s bloodiest and most violent work through the voices of the patients of a psychiatric hospital. The play is performed by actors from the Integrated Theater of the Emotions, an Italian university program in performing arts that he founded for people with physical, intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“Follies in Titus” was influenced by the intrinsic confrontation with human violence that “Titus Andronicus” evokes in both its audience and its interpreters. This 16th-century tragedy, Shakespeare’s first and bloodiest, is the fictional story of Titus, a general during the late Roman Empire, who engages in a cycle of revenge with Tamora, Queen of the Goths. Titus’ murder of Tamora’s eldest son in a ritual of war leads to the rape and mutilation of his own daughter, Lavinia. As his revenge, Titus murders Tamora’s remaining sons bakes them into a pie and serves them to her at a feast.
The focus of the production is not on Shakespeare’s mixture of horror and vengeance, but rather on the alternation of true and feigned madness. Through a careful exploration of the pathological and psychotic behavior of the protagonists of the play, D’Ambrosi, and his collaborators reduced the original text to its essential elements, giving space to the creativity of its actors, who re-tell the play in a fantastical narration through the eyes of psychiatric patients.
Teatro Patologico was founded by Dario D’Ambrosi, one of Italy’s most distinguished theater artists, who has made a career of productions about people with psychiatric disabilities, devising productions that portray their unique perspective on life. The main intent in “La magia del teatro” (The Magic of Theatre), the Drama Academy for disabled children directed by Dario D’ambrosi, which counts more than 60 students each year, is to stimulate the students’ creative freedom by giving them the theoretical and practical means to help them express themselves on the stage. The school (and the final project at the end of the academic year) isn’t so much a form of therapy as it is an amazing chance for them to express both artistically and emotionally, a place where they get to socialize and form important life skills, a serious vehicle of fun and a way to make the students feel and be the main actors.