Heather came to the Big Apple to become an actress. Little by little, part by part, she worked her way up the ladder, playing the hookers, junkies, and strippers — you know, the parts that some actresses are too afraid to play. Then came the role of a lifetime.
Heather Litteer’s gripping, funny, heartfelt solo show explores how women are treated both onscreen and off. Her adventures as an actress and downtown darling are mixed with calls back home to her ill but steel magnolia of a mother, who’s southern roots are so strong the can suffocate. Navigating the absurd misogyny of our mediaverse, Lemonade turns female exploitation on its head, and offers redemption to any woman who has even been typecast.
This interview is with the creators and performers of the show CHANNEL ONE. Ishah Janssen-Faith and Emily James are the duo aka ‘James and JF‘. I had a few minutes before their show at The Brick to ask them a few questions about how the show came about and what their original idea was to create it. The show is part of the NY Clown Theatre Festival.
This wild roller coaster of a show had me laughing so hard I found myself having trouble shooting the photographs.
It was broken down into sections. Each one was a ‘TV Show’ of sorts that takes place in the future.
I cannot comment on all the sections of the show except to say it was delightful, hysterical, intelligent and original.
I am posting the best images i have of the show for your perusal.
Opening sequence of the show was really fun.
Karla’s Kitchen was a cooking show with flare and laughter.
Dancing on the cooking show. Wouldn’t that be fun!
Emily just had so much trouble getting her show to start.
Heidi’s show and she made you know it.
Another dance number – this time on Heidi’s show.
This is the show “He’s Your Man Now’.
Thinking about the issue at hand.
He is your man now!
Next up was a ‘healer’ show with Emily.
The duo had a funny show called THE MONO SISTERS.
Never able to complete anything due to their case of mono.
Curtain call for two very funny and talents women.
Sometimes a show comes along that is so different that anything you have seen in a long time. Funny, original, intelligent, and physical comedy at it’s best. That show is titled “666“.It comes to NY from the Madrid based group Yllana.
Leo Bassi’s New Neronian is an aggressive thesis on violence and control. At one point Bassi locked all the theater doors and threatened to burn down the theater. A very nervous audience played along with him – some to a larger degree than others. Bassi poured what smelled and looked like gasoline over the stage floor and about the set, than lit a flaming torch. He moved anxiously and intensely over the stage encouraging the audience to believe they were in imminent danger. He came out to the audience, threatened to burn one of the audience members, selected one and then backed off with an apology.
He apologized, not for intimidating the audience member, but for not burning his shirt, for the poor audience member would not – much later in his life – be able to pick up the burned shirt and show it to his grandson telling him about the time he had gone to a live performance and this crazy man Leo Bassi from Italy burned a hole in his shirt. It would be a lost moment for the audience member with his grandson. Maybe the audience member would have been part of a club of people from all over the world who had had their shirts burned by Bassi. In his golden years he would be elected president of the club. Bassi’s failure to burn his shirt took away this opportunity of prestige in old age. And so the evening went, in fiery forward lurching rhythm with Bassi challenging the audience’s perspective of truth, tolerance and totalitarianism[i]. Most in the audience were totally mesmerized by the Neo Fascist [Neo-Conservative] Nero look-alike character that demanded faith and fear and realized that Bassi was angry and fearful of the worldwide trend toward strong-arm governments. Others hated the show; some thinking Bassi was worshiping the Nero character for he did indeed walk the finest line between. But everyone loved watching Leo, shoulder in a cast, lie on his back, struggle to get a piano onto his feet and then juggle it for the feat that had placed him in the Guinness World Book of Records.
Michael Pedretti, Delighting the Senses, (Yardley,PA: Busting Boundaries, 2009)
Paul Zaloom had much experience performing before he started his one-man shows. He was the ringmaster for the Bread and Puppet Circus in Vermont every summer for years. He started performing with them at the age of 19 and still does when he is in Vermont.
Paul Zaloom and I started working together on making pictures for his puppet shows in early 1978. The first of the shows we worked on was “The World of Plastic”. Paul has a very individual style to his work and it wasn’t difficult to carve photographs out of his shows that were very representative. His bulging eyes and expressive face lend themselves to very funny and theatrical images. It seems that the New York Times and other papers in NY were very appreciative of my style since they could use them in any way they wanted graphically on the pages of their paper.
Our next project was for his show in 1981 titled ‘Zaloominations‘. We decided to be a little more playful and use some more drastic lighting to accentuate the event at hand. The piece is called Industrial Park. Here we have Paul with a semiglobe hat and plastic exhaust piping that has a puppet lobster claw with binoculars. A stunning image that was used many times in the media.
The next show was titled CRAZY AS ZALOOM and the piece we did this photograph for was “In The News“. A few of the topical issues in the news in 1982 included pollution, internet and garbage. Paul was savvy in using found objects that reflected these issues in his shows. We wanted to get across the absurd and yet important issues by using these objects from the show in the photographs. A lot of times these visual images never appeared in the show in the same configuration as they did in the photographs. They were created custom for the photographs with Paul and I brainstorming for hours together to get the right look.
The following show Paul ask that we do a specific image for the flyer. He knew exactly what he wanted for the show and we set out to create a visual that worked for his concept. The show titled CREATURE FROM THE BLUE ZALOOM was presented in 1984. We set up a table top and seamless paper on top of it so Paul could ‘cross the desert’ in the studio. With pith helmet and the dehydrated look on his face we came up with this picture.
At the same session we did another series of photographs for his piece titled BASIC INTELLIGENCE. Here Paul dressed up as a Russian soldier with cigar and moustache drinking a glass of ‘whoknowswhat’?
As we worked more and more together we really did get good at making wonderful potent images that sold the show and his ideas.
In 1986 we worked on his show THE THEATRE OF TRASH. This photograph was from his piece In America. I really liked this image as it had a feeling of horror mixed with scifi.
In 1991 we worked on his show MY CIVILIZATION. Here we used many different techniques to create the images. Backscreen projection, and other technical changes from our usual bag of tricks. Here is Paul with student learning and READING the ABC’S.
Paul moved to Los Angeles around 1998 and started working on a new TV show called BEAKMAN’S WORLD. It was a delightful cross between Mr. Science and Pee Wee Herman’s. Of course Paul was Beakman. Based on a very successful comic strip of the same name. It was very successful show and there is a ‘Best of Beakman‘ on DVD.
Today Paul is creating more wonderful shows and hopefully we can work again on some inspired images. Here is a excerpt from one of his shows posted on YouTube.