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15 16 December – February

guide FREE

american repertory theater | expanding the boundaries of theater

Ice Fishing with

Mark Rylance The Great Comet Tolstoy Takes The Stage Joyful Nihilism:

Ubu Reborn The Pirate Princess Swashbuckling with Shakespeare


INTENTIONALLY DIFFERENT... ENTIRELY ARTSEMERSON

2015/16 WINTER - SPRING SEASON JAN 20 – 30

TWELFTH NIGHT

A fresh, fast remix of Shakespeare’s much loved comedy Filter Theatre :: London

JAN 29 – FEB 27

AN OCTOROON

The hottest play of 1859 is back! Sort of...

MAR 16 – 20

NOT I / FOOTFALLS / ROCKABY

A one-woman powerhouse of a Samuel Beckett trilogy A Lisa Dwan Production :: UK

APR 21 – 24

HISTORIA DE AMOR

Company One Theatre :: Boston

A twisted tale with the grit and imagery of a graphic novel

FEB 19 - MAR 6

APR 27 – MAY 21

THE WONG KIDS IN THE SECRET OF THE SPACE CHUPACABRA GO! Intergalactic escapade of two modern day superheroes Ma-Yi Theater Company :: NYC

Teatrocinema :: Chile

DAUGHTER OF A CUBAN REVOLUTIONARY

Remembrance of forgotten stories of Cuba’s Revolution Marissa Chibas :: LA

MAY 4 – 14

MAR 2 - 6

PREMEDITATION

A luminous retelling of Chekhov’s masterpiece

Latino Theater Company :: LA

THREE SISTERS

A comedic maze of marriage, murder and mayhem

Maly Drama Theatre of St. Petersburg :: Russia

GET THE BEST SEATS NOW! TICKETS START AT $25

5 2 2015/16 Season americanrepertorytheater.org

BEST THEATER

ARTSEMERSON.ORG / 617.824.8400


A.R.T. BOARDS

Artistic Director’s Welcome

BOARD OF TRUSTEES Steve Johnson, Chair Amy Brakeman Laurie Burt Paul Buttenwieser RoAnn Costin Mike Dreese Zita Ezpeleta Michael Feinstein Provost Alan M. Garber Catherine Gellert Rebecca Grafstein Lori Gross Ann Gund Sarah Hancock Jonathan Hulbert Alan K. Jones Herman B. "Dutch" Leonard Dennis Masel Thomas B. McGrath Rebecca Milikowsky Ward Mooney Robert Murchison Andrew Ory Diane Paulus Diane Quinn Mike Sheehan Diana Sorensen Sid Yog BOARD OF ADVISORS Ann Gund, Co-Chair Karen Mueller, Co-Chair Paolo Abelli Frances Shtull Adams Yuriko Jane Anton Robert Bowie, Jr. Philip Burling* Greg Carr Antonia Handler Chayes* Lizabeth Cohen Kathleen Connor Rohit Deshpande Susan Edgman-Levitan Jill Fopiano Shanti Fry Erin Gilligan Jonathan Glazer Candy Kosow Gold Rachael Goldfarb Barbara Wallace Grossman Peggy Hanratty Marcia Head James Higgins Horace H. Irvine II Emma Johnson Dean Huntington Lambert Timothy P. McCarthy Travis McCready Irv Plotkin Martin Puchner Ellen Gordon Reeves Pat Romeo-Gilbert Linda U. Sanger Maggie Seelig Dina Selkoe John A. Shane Michael Shinagel Lisbeth Tarlow Sarasina Tuchen Susan Ware Stephen H. Zinner, M.D. *Emeriti FOUNDING DIRECTOR

DIANE PAULUS The Terrie and Bradley Bloom Artistic Director American Repertory Theater

WELCOME TO THE AMERICAN REPERTORY THEATER And welcome to our season of adaptations! The productions you’ll see this season all transform films, classic literature, poetry, memoir, and history into experiences for the stage, showing the power of theater to tell these stories in provocative new ways. We began our season with Waitress in August, and we continue now with Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812. This dive into Tolstoy’s epic tale of love and fate brings two artists back to A.R.T.: writer/composer Dave Malloy (Ghost Quartet, Beowulf—A Thousand Years of Baggage, Three Pianos) and director Rachel Chavkin (Three Pianos, Particularly in the Heartland). This Guide includes interviews with Dave and Rachel, as well as an interview with set designer Mimi Lien, recipient of a 2015 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. In January, Nice Fish dramatizes Louis Jenkins’ prose poems, following two ice fishermen as they search for something essential in nature and themselves. Directed and scored by multidisciplinary artist and composer Claire van Kampen, this reflective, humorous play confronts the truths swimming just below the surface of the everyday. Nice Fish was co-written by Jenkins and world-renowned actor Mark Rylance, last seen at A.R.T. in the 1991/92 repertory productions of Hamlet and The Seagull. Read on for an interview with Mark Rylance about ice fishing and adaptation, as well as a note from Louis Jenkins about his poems’ new life onstage. Also in this Guide, you will find articles about The Pirate Princess, a family-friendly re-telling of Twelfth Night from the creative team behind The Light Princess, and an interview with Dan Safer, creator of the madcap mashup Ubu Sings Ubu, which will be presented at OBERON in February. Then, be sure to flip this Guide over to read more about our spring productions: Headlong Theatre’s bold adaptation of 1984, and In the Body of the World, Eve Ensler’s personal story about transforming pain to power and joy. I look forward to seeing you at the theater!

@americanrep

Robert Brustein COVER Mark Rylance in rehearsal for Nice Fish at The Guthrie Theater. Photo: Ben Brewer

americanrepertorytheater.org 2015/16 Season 3


Alice vs. Wonderland

Finding Neverland

All the Way

Futurity: A Musical by The Lisps

Moscow (Moscow Art Theatre School): March 2010 A.R.T.: October 2010

A.R.T.: September 2013 New York City (Broadway): April 2014 Los Angeles (HBO): (now filming)

The Blue Flower

A.R.T.: December 2010 New York City (2econd Stage): November 2011

Death and the Powers: The Robots' Opera

Monaco (Salle Garnier): September 2010 A.R.T.: March 2011 Chicago (Harris Theater): April 2011 Dallas (Dallas Opera): February 2014

The Donkey Show

A.R.T.: August 2009 (ongoing) Miami (Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts): July 2012

Father Comes Home From The Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3)

New York City (The Public Theater): October 2014 A.R.T.: January 2015 Los Angeles (Center Theatre Group): April 2016 London (Royal Court Theater): September 2016

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A.R.T.: July 2014 New York City (Broadway): April 2015 (ongoing) U.S. Tour: October 2016

A.R.T.: March 2012 Minneapolis (Walker Art Center): April 2012 New York City (Ars Nova / Soho Rep): October 2015

The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess A.R.T.: August 2011 New York City (Broadway): January 2012 U.S. Tour: November 2013

The Glass Menagerie

A.R.T.: February 2013 New York City (Broadway): September 2013

The Heart of Robin Hood

A.R.T.: December 2013 Winnipeg (Royal Manitoba Theatre Center): November 2014 Toronto (Royal Alexandra Theatre): January 2015

The Light Princess

A.R.T.: December 2013, December 2014 New York City (New Victory Theater): February 2015


A.R.T. in the World Works created in Cambridge have been experienced around the world. Here’s a selction of recent work shared with audiences in the U.S. and abroad. Learn more at: americanrepertorytheater.org/ART-InTheWorld Playing in the 2015/16 calendar year | Past productions Listed by month production opened. (As of November 2015)

Marie Antoinette

The Snow Queen

Nice Fish

The Tempest

A.R.T.: September 2012 New Haven (Yale Rep): October 2012 New York (Soho Rep): October 2013

A.R.T.: January 2016 New York City (St. Ann’s Warehouse): February 2016

Once

A.R.T.: Developed April 2011 New York City (New York Theatre Workshop): December 2011 New York City (Broadway): March 2012 Dublin: February 2013, July 2015 U.S. Tour: October 2013 (ongoing) London (West End): April 2013 Melbourne (Melbourne Theatre Company): September 2014 Seoul: December 2014, September 2015

Pippin

A.R.T.: December 2013 New York City (Broadway): April 2013 U.S. Tour: September 2014 (ongoing) Tokyo (Tokyo Theatre Orb): Sept 2015 Amsterdam (Koninklijk Theater): March 2016

A.R.T.: December 2011 Detroit (Bonstelle Theatre): November 2012 Chicago (Filament Theatre): January 2014

Las Vegas (The Smith Center): April 2013 A.R.T.: May 2014 Costa Mesa (South Coast Repertory): August 2014 Chicago (Chicago Shakespeare Theater): September 2015

Waitress

A.R.T.: August 2015 New York City (Broadway): April 2016

Wild Swans

A.R.T.: February 2012 London (Young Vic): April 2012

Witness Uganda/Invisible Thread

A.R.T.: February 2013 New York City (2econd Stage): October – December 2015

Sleep No More

A.R.T.: October 2009 New York City (McKittrick Hotel): March 2011 (ongoing)

americanrepertorytheater.org 2015/16 Season 5


DECEMBER 6, 2015 JANUARY 3, 2016

NATASHA, PIERRE & THE GREAT COMET OF 1812 Book, Music, and Lyrics by Dave Malloy
 Adapted from War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy Directed by Rachel Chavkin


THE GREAT EXPERIMENT Dave Malloy on Adaptation for the Stage

Natasha is young, Anatole is hot, and Andrey isn’t here… But what about Pierre? Based on a scandalous 70page slice of War and Peace, this electropop opera is Tolstoy like you’ve never experienced him before. Step into a glamorous, romantic world of chandeliers, vodka, and caviar in the salons and opera houses of nineteenth-century Moscow, where passions ignite as Napoleon’s war rages outside the city. With the cast and musicians swirling among audience members, this new musical brings to life the heart of literature’s most epic tale of love and fate.

I get asked about adaptation a lot; I never really  made a conscious decision to become such a devout adaptor, but when I look back over my work, I can’t help but notice that almost all of it is adaptations of classic works. In fact my very first proper musical was an adaptation of three short stories by Nikolai Gogol (“The Nose,” “Diary of a Madman,” and “The Overcoat”—also starting a long fascination with all things Russian!). This was soon followed by other adaptations, from Clown Bible (which was exactly what it sounds like)  to the rock infused  Beowulf—A Thousand Years of Baggage, to Three Pianos, based on Schubert’s Winterreise. Other pieces have been adaptations of a more oblique sort, including Ghost Quartet (based on a number of horror and fantasy tales, from Edgar Allan Poe and the brothers Grimm to Sandman and The Twilight Zone), Preludes (based on many pieces of Rachmaninoff’s) and Black Wizard/Blue Wizard (based in part on Dungeons & Dragons and other RPGs). And I’m currently working on adaptations of the Chuang Tzu, Moby-Dick, and Shakespeare’s Henriad. Much of this probably comes from being an English Literature major in college (doubling with Music Composition), and just adoring the classics, particularly  those passages that feel both startlingly contemporary and outlandishly bizarre. Sarah laughing in  the Bible; Schubert’s wanderer being  haunted by barking dogs; Natasha seeing  the moon while hearing Andrey’s voice for the first time. There is something about these deep and universal emotions being expressed through imagery that the passage of time has rendered just ever so slightly arcane and surreal, that I find  fascinating and profoundly moving.  And of course there is also such rich opportunity for humor and illumination through anachronism, colliding time periods to both highlight the similarities and revel in the bizarre and subtle differences between the then and now.  The great experiment of Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 specifically was to put a novel on stage; to not just tell the story, but to embrace the formal structure and language of the novel, melodicizing Tolstoy’s incredible narrative voice and rhetorical style. To that end, rhymes are few and far between (though they are employed, when the music seems to demand it), and the characters often nar-

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rate their actions, sometimes speaking about themselves in the third person. So much of the brilliance of Tolstoy comes from the vivid detailing of his characters’ rich inner lives: every small social interaction is micro processed, so that every glance, stare, kiss, blush, and whisper can encompass an entire world of human experience. Dramatizing these moments became a highly intuitive game of show vs. tell, of knowing when to delight in Tolstoy’s text and when to let the music and staging do the work. Also there is Tolstoy’s deep love for and celebration of humanity, and the vast range of human experiences, from the lowliest troika driver to the Tsar himself. Capturing all of these people seemed an essential part of adapting War and Peace. By combining the melodrama of Natasha and Anatole with Pierre’s spiritual search, the Bolkonskys’ domestic nightmare, Balaga’s supernatural exuberance and all  the rest, a larger picture of what it is to be human is painted, with every outlook complementing and influencing the others, both directly and metaphorically. The music does this too, combining everything from Russian classical to Detroit techno to tell all of these disparate stories as evocatively as possible. Above all, with Great Comet and all of my adaptations, the most important thing for me is to ensure that the text is being honored faithfully; while I delight in anachronism and accenting some of the more endearing and quaint period elements of the text, in the end these tales are deserving of our most reverent attention. Too often for my tastes, adaptation can rely too heavily on trite ironic distance and parody; for me, the more rewarding choice is always to take these tales at face value, and work to unlock their secrets for contemporary audiences in ways that are joyful, surprising, and ultimately cathartic. 

Dave Malloy wrote and composed Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812.

Photo: Phillipa Soo, Amber Gray, Gelsey Bell, and Dave Malloy in Great Comet at Ars Nova; Ben Arons.

Choreography by Sam Pinkleton


Dave Malloy (R), writer and composer of Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, played Pierre in the show's initial productions at Ars Nova and Kazino.

americanrepertorytheater.org 2015/16 Season 7


ON ALL SIDES An Interview with Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 Director Rachel Chavkin Rachel Chavkin is the Artistic Director of the TEAM and a two time Obie Award-winning director, dramaturg, and writer. She’s created internationally touring shows such as RoosevElvis (performing at OBERON in May 2016) and Mission Drift. She will continue to collaborate with composer of Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, Dave Malloy, on upcoming projects based on Moby Dick and Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2 and Henry V.

Typically the proscenium arch is the dividing line between the fiction of the play and the reality from which the audience is watching. In this production, there is no proscenium arch, so that

dividing line doesn’t exist at all. The action unfolds around the audience in 360 degrees. It is in front of them, behind them, on all sides. Actors wander past them singing songs. This helps the audience enter the melodrama and romance of one of the principal characters, Natasha. The experience is different for the actors, too. They are playing two things at once; both themselves

and the character they are carrying. They might have to navigate where an audience member has placed their chair while also playing a scene in the fiction that’s happening all around. What should audiences expect to see when they enter the Loeb Drama Center theater? They’re going to see, first and foremost, a really opulent world. Half the audience will enter the theater through different routes than usual, pouring across the stage and into a Moscow supper club. We are building over the Loeb’s seats, around those seats, through them. The other huge difference for the audience is that, at multiple points during the show, they will be within feet of an actor or musician. So, the actors are going to be doing double duty, acting both cinematically and operatically. They need to be honest and legible (emotionally speaking) to someone who’s five feet away, or one foot away, while also reaching an audience across the space. The musicians are vital in the storytelling of Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812. How are they incorporated into the performance?

Lucas Steele (Anatole) in the Off-Broadway production of Great Comet.

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The design is deeply influenced by an experience Dave had one night when he stumbled through an invisible door and into an underground club in Moscow. It was a tiny club packed with people drinking vodka and eating black bread and pelmeni [Russian dumplings]. A string trio was scattered throughout the club. Dave ended up sitting very close to the viola player, and he had an incredibly intimate experience with the viola while watching the violinist and cellist play across

Photos: Lucas Steele and the cast of Great Comet at Kazino; Chad Batka.

You’re staging Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 in a proscenium arch theater, but you’re using the space in a different way. Could you explain how and why?


Director Rachel Chavkin's staging places audiences at the center of a swirling ensemble of musicians and performers.

the room. We took this image of the musicians spread all over the space and put it in our production. There are happily a lot of new musicals that put the band onstage. But this production takes the idea of exposing the band to a whole new level. These musicians are spread everywhere and each audience member will experience getting to be closer to the oboe or the string trio. They’ll get to watch the beauty of these instruments. How was the mood of Tolstoy’s novel drawn into the show? Tolstoy was one of the fiercest critics of his society. He was incredibly critical of the hypocrisy that he felt governed the upper classes. Furthermore, Tolstoy himself hated opera. He hated anything that smacked of elitism, because it just further reflected the inequity he saw all around him. So Dave cleverly built that into the very score of the show. He combined traditional operatic or musical theater arias with a very contemporary pop form. I’ve talked with designers and the cast about the feeling of society partying as the Titanic sinks. Immediately after the events of the novel that we’re portraying, Napoleon marches in, and the Russian army burns Moscow to the ground to prevent him from taking the city. In this production, you can feel the decadence of a society in total denial of its near annihilation.

Anatole... regarded his whole life as a continual round of amusement which someone for some reason had to provide for him. And he looked on this visit to a churlish old man and a rich and ugly heiress in the same way. All this might, he thought, turn out very well and amusingly. "And why not marry her if she really has so much money? That never does any harm," thought Anatole. from War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (trans. Louis and Aylmer Maude)

Interview by Tessa Nelson, a second-year dramaturgy student at the A.R.T. Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University.

americanrepertorytheater.org 2015/16 Season 9


Mimi Lien's set design for Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 transforms the theater into an opulent Moscow supper club.

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SPOTLIGHT

MIMI LIEN On the set of The Great Comet

Mimi Lien, set designer for Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, is a winner of the 2015 MacArthur Fellowship for her work designing innovative and immersive theatrical spaces. She’s designed sets for shows including An Octoroon at Soho Rep, Lost in the Meadow with People’s Light and Longwood Gardens, and The Whale at Playwrights Horizons. She focuses her designs around the interactions between audiences and their environments.

Photo: Mimi Lien; John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

The design for Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 places the audience inside a Russian supper club. What inspired you to put the audience at the center of the event? Because of my background in architecture, I always think about the audience’s experience in three dimensional space. When you’re designing in the traditional proscenium arch, the audience is sitting back in their seats, facing forward, and looking in one direction; the design is only seen from one side. When we designed Great Comet, I looked at a research picture of a supper club, and there was a counter level surface behind the banquet. I immediately thought that it would be a great playing space. An actor could walk behind an audience member. I loved the idea of an audience member having to turn around, or sense a physical presence walking behind them. It makes for a much more active theatrical experience. What research did you do for this project? At the very beginning I did a lot of period research. I researched Russia in the time of War and Peace; I looked at salons and rooms full of paintings. I like to go to the source first and then totally depart from it. At the same time, we were talking about supper clubs, which did not exist in Tsarist era Russia. We decided to embrace both a contemporary and a period feeling through all aspects of the design, and particularly in the costumes. I very quickly had an impulse for a lot of curving lines. Some of that came from looking at visual motifs of Russian paintings and designs from nineteenth century

Russia, but I also just had an impulse for the way the piece flows. Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 focuses on the “Peace” elements of Tolstoy’s novel. Are there any elements of your design that foreshadow the “War” to come? There’s a door which is used when Andrey goes off to war. You’re in a red velvet lined room, but within that there’s one big, metal door which feels like the door to a bunker. Andrey, at the very beginning of the piece, leaves through that door and goes off to war. What you see through that door, when it’s open, is smoke and light. It feels, literally, like there’s war out there. In the middle of the piece, there’s also an entrance made through that door. The entrance foreshadows that some of what’s outside is entering the world of the play. Could you describe your design for this production in terms of volume, color, and texture? Frank Lloyd Wright often designed a series of spaces where you’d enter through a dark hallway with very low ceilings until you emerge into a high ceilinged living room full of light. There’s power in contrasts; in going from a space that’s cramped and tunnel-like into a luxurious and open space. So, in all of our iterations, we’ve designed a journey for the audience from the street into the performance space. We’ve designed it to feel like you’re walking through an abandoned bunker from the 1980’s: concrete and cool tones. Greenish, grayish, with punk rock posters and graffiti on the walls. Then you emerge into this luxurious, red performance space. I wanted it to feel very warm; I think I said at one point that I wanted the audience to feel as if they’d entered into a velvet-lined Fabergé egg.

Interview by Tessa Nelson, a second-year dramaturgy student at the A.R.T. Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University.

americanrepertorytheater.org 2015/16 Season 11


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BETWEEN THE LINES Dave Malloy's Literary Imaginings by Tessa Nelson

“In 19th century Russia we write letters We write letters We put down in writing What is happening in our minds.” So writes Dave Malloy, composer/lyricist of Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812. His contemporary glance into the minds of characters from Tolstoy’s War and Peace is wry, ironic, and multi-laminate; it’s a view drawn from careful reading and a vivid sense of humor. Malloy first read War and Peace while playing piano on a cruise ship, using the book as a way to stay connected to his landbound girlfriend. They would call each other to discuss chapters, hoping that sharing a mental space would make up for their not sharing a geographical one. Malloy loved the novel instantly. He related intimately to the character of Pierre, sharing his baffled sense of wonder at the vastness of the world. For Malloy, the lengthy tome went quickly. “Parts of it read like a trashy romance novel,” he says. “I wanted to adapt it instantly.” What followed was Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812. Malloy set the Aylmer and Louise Maude 1922 English translation of Tolstoy’s text to music. The score fuses nineteenth century Russian folk tunes and electropop, a genre which uses synthesizers and a variety of other electronic instruments, “The dramaturgical argument for electropop is that it only comes in when Anatole enters,” Malloy explains. “He’s the electricity that shocks Natasha and the story.” This eclectic musical mashup is in keeping with Malloy’s diverse tastes. He’s inspired by music ranging from Radiohead to Rachmani-

noff, from Tchaikovsky to Coltrane. However, he wasn’t always so musically diverse. “In high school, I was only obsessed with jazz,” Malloy explains. “In college, I was only obsessed with classical.” His well-roundedness developed during a job at Amoeba Music in San Francisco. He’d spend hours poking through the records, listening to anything he could get his hands on, “The guys that worked there were musical geniuses of every style, and they thoroughly enhanced my musical education.” Dave Malloy has lived liberally, and the breadth of his experience has translated into a depth of theatrical intelligence. He has had a huge range of jobs. In addition to cruise ship pianist and record store sales clerk, Malloy has been a preschool teacher, pizza cook, and counselor at a group home for emotionally disturbed children. He’s also an actor and singer, having originated the role of Pierre in the premiere iteration of Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812. Malloy folds the expansiveness of his experience into his creative work—one fuzzy night in Moscow has been layered into this production’s set design. Malloy arranges and orchestrates all of his music, a technical skill and meticulous exercise rarely seen in composers today. In a world of increased specialization, Malloy balks at choosing one job in the theater. The A.R.T. has staged three of Malloy’s productions over the past four seasons: Beowulf—A Thousand Years of Baggage, Three Pianos, and Ghost Quartet. The most recent, Ghost Quartet, ran at OBERON in September. This concept album performed live weaves together tales of deceased sisters, a subway accident, a broken cam-

era, “The Fall of the House of Usher,” the ghost of Thelonious Monk, and many more. When the play ends, the audience lingers in the theater, basking in the glow of the world that has just been created around them. Beowulf—A Thousand Years of Baggage and Three Pianos, also, weave classic texts and compositions with modern day understanding. Beowulf poses the Norse hero against his greatest enemy—academia—and Three Pianos, according to Dave Malloy, “explodes and mayhems” Franz Schubert’s famous Winterreise. What all three share is their love of the works on which they are based. Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 is in the spirit of Malloy’s other works. It’s wild, modern, and intrinsically Tolstoy—his language, characters, and structure. Malloy transforms a sometimes-intimidating tome into a wild night at a supper club. He explains that he wants a contemporary audience to be able to access the heart of Tolstoy’s work immediately, without having to do any research. He wants to make a modern romance: “The people attending our play aren’t wearing nineteenth-century clothes or speaking in elevated language. They have twenty-first-century mindsets and that must be acknowledged.” At the core of Malloy's many talents is his avidity as a reader. War and Peace speaks directly to his heart, and Malloy's creations conjure that same love in his audience.

Tessa Nelson is a second-year dramaturgy student at the A.R.T. Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University.

americanrepertorytheater.org 2015/16 Season 13


DECEMBER 19, 2015 JANUARY 3, 2016

THE PIRATE PRINCESS Book by Lila Rose Kaplan

Directed by Allegra Libonati Choreography by Cheryl Turski Featuring students from the A.R.T. Institute for Advanced Theater Training Class of 2016

From the creators of the A.R.T.’s hit The Light Princess comes a swashbuckling adventure on the high seas. When a giant sea monster destroys their ship, seafaring twins Violet and Victor are torn from one another. Lost in a world of rowdy pirates and lovesick royalty, the siblings must be crafty and brave to reunite. Featuring a forty foot sea monster, daring sword-fights, and a pirate recruitment center for youngsters in the theater's lobby, this lush world of adventure and danger will be a holiday treat for the whole family.

SETTING SAIL An interview with The Pirate Princess Director Allegra Libonati

For director Allegra Libonati, the new family musical The Pirate Princess provides an exciting array of challenges, ranging from puppetry to sword fighting on the high seas. These elements are perfectly suited to Libonati, who trained with Tut’Zanni, a physical theater company that focuses on traditional commedia dell’arte mask-work. At the A.R.T., she has directed The Light Princess, Hansel and Gretel, and The Snow Queen, and is the resident director of The Donkey Show at OBERON.

This is your fourth family theater production at A.R.T. What draws you to this kind of theater? I love the fantasy and allegorical elements of it. The supernatural is very much at play in a lot of children’s theater and that automatically creates a directorial challenge. Much of the work is also about creating a poetic language for the central conflict of the story, and in many of my productions that language is physical. Much of your recent work has been creating adaptations of classic tales and, as you said, a lot of the work is physical and poetic. What are your influences and sources of inspiration for these productions? I am deeply influenced by U.K.-based company Complicite. Their ensemble-based work is inspiring, as is the depth of their imagery, and imagination, and the way that they

unpack a story, which is not entirely dependent on text, but also on the full sonic and visual world. Another influence is Bread and Puppet Theater. I have always found the huge, oversized spectacle of Bread and Puppet to be magical. And Pilobolus, a dance company that creates imagery with just their bodies, is my third major inspiration. The Kuperman brothers, who did our flying choreography for The Light Princess, worked with Pilobolus. Oversized puppets show up in your work from time to time. There was a gorgeous puppet in The Snow Queen and another large puppet in your production of The Magic Fish. Yes, that was the same puppet designer, Michael Kane (A.R.T. Institute class of 2012), who is going to be making the Kraken, our enormous sea-monster in The Pirate Princess. He specializes in oversized monsters.

continued on page 16

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Photo: Ashley J. 'Monet' and Dralla Aierken in The Light Princess (2014); Evgenia Eliseeva.

Music and Lyrics by Mike Pettry


The Pirate Princess brings the creative team behind last year's The Light Princess (pictured above) back for a swashbuckling, puppet-filled re-telling of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.

americanrepertorytheater.org 2015/16 Season 15


continued from page 14

Does puppetry require a different skillset from a director? To have something come to life that is not a real person can be an incredible way to experience a character. If you watch puppeteers manipulate a puppet and bring that puppet to life, you really experience what it is to be alive—the breathing, the grounding. It’s a very beautiful, empathetic process. This is a season of adaptations at A.R.T. and The Pirate Princess is inspired by Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. What draws you to that source material? What I love about Twelfth Night is the idea that everyone thinks they are one thing and must come face-to-face with the fact that they are another. Everyone is living within clearly defined gender, social and life rules that the world says you must fit into because you look this way or are this gender; but then everyone in our story breaks through those into a different, new life. As the resident director of The Donkey Show at OBERON you work on a different style of storytelling than in the family shows. However, like The Pirate Princess, music is a central element of The Donkey Show. How would you describe the role of music in your work? For me, music cuts deeper than text on an emotional, intuitive level. Music bypasses the thinking brain and hits you on an emotional level, whereas text is primarily received intellectually. Mike

Pettry’s underscoring in The Pirate Princess, for instance, is masterful—it makes the show lift off.

Have you noticed these symbols in A.R.T. publications or on our website?

This is your third show with the playwright Lila Rose Kaplan and second with composer Mike Pettry. What interests you about working with these two artists again?

SF

These symbols indicate A.R.T. initiatives to provide quality arts experiences for everyone. For every LARGE performance, A.R.T. offers PRINT accessible seating and restroom facilities for patrons with mobility LARGE restrictions; and, at the PRINT Loeb, assisted listening devices, including those compatible with telecoil hearing aids, and large format programs for visually impaired patrons who may have difficulty reading smaller print. LARGE A.R.T. also offers a range PRINT of additional services to make our work on stage available and accessible LARGE PRINT to every patron during select performances. Since 2011, A.R.T. has programmed interpretation of performances in American Sign Language. Now, with support from the Theater Development Fund, A.R.T. has been able to expand its offerings for Deaf and hard of hearing patrons with Open Captioned performances, a LARGE model similar to using supertitles. PRINT A.R.T. also offers live Audio Description for select performances, which aurally illustrate the visual elements of the world on stage through designated headsets for blind and low-visioned patrons. In the lobby before performances featuring live Audio Description, patrons are welcome to engage in a guided Touch Tour, a tangible, hands-on experience featuring costumes, props, and set pieces from the performance. In addition, A.R.T. programs a special Sensory Friendly (SF) Performance of our holiday family show, designed for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Last year’s SF performance of The Light Princess was the first in A.R.T.’s history, and we are proud to offer a Sensory Friendly performance of The Pirate Princess on December 28 at 2PM. For more information on accessibility services at A.R.T., visit americanrepertorytheater.org/access

SF

They are so good at writing shows that appeal to adults and children at the same time. Not only in the same show but in the same joke, which is rare in children’s theater. Lila Rose’s text is deep and short. She’s able to say a lot in very few words and she’s always editing it down and distilling the language to its essential parts, which, for a family audience, is critical. Also, Mike’s music is really accessible without being formulaic.

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It’s one of the things that I love about good family storytellers, like Pixar. They are telling us that stories can be complex and still touch everyone.

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And they’re usually about major life transitions. Fairy tales are often about getting from one phase to another, and everyone needs help with that, no matter what age you are. I think family theater does a big disservice to audiences when it doesn’t show how profoundly frightening and challenging and heartbreaking that can be, as well as the great joy and love that can come through facing those challenges.

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Interviewed by James Montaño, a first-year dramaturgy student at the A.R.T. Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University.

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Michael Kane, creator of the puppets for the upcoming production of The Pirate Princess, also created puppets for The Snow Queen (pictured above, 2011).

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Photo: Cast of The Snow Queen; Evgenia Eliseeva.

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americanrepertorytheater.org 2015/16 Season 17


JANUARY 17 FEBRUARY 7, 2016

NICE FISH Conceived, Written, and Adapted by Mark Rylance & Louis Jenkins Directed by Claire van Kampen

On a lake in frozen Minnesota, the ice is beginning to creak and groan. It’s the end of the fishing season, and two men are out on the ice one last time, angling for answers to life’s larger questions. A play woven together from the acclaimed prose poems of Louis Jenkins, Nice Fish reflects nature with a wry surreality.

Nice Fish co-creator Mark Rylance was the artistic director of Shakespeare's Globe in London from 1995-2005.

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ICE FISHING Two-time Tony Award-winning actor Mark Rylance (Hamlet, The Seagull, Boeing-Boeing, Jerusalem, Richard III, Twelfth Night, Wolf Hall, Bridge of Spies) discusses Midwestern winters and the creation of Nice Fish

Photo: Mark Rylance; Ben Brewer.

In addition to collaborating with Louis Jenkins on Nice Fish, you recited two of his poems in your 2008 and 2011 Tony Award acceptance speeches. What aspects of Jenkins’ poetry initially attracted you as source material for a theater performance? I first heard them from Robert Bly at a men's gathering, and then I was asked by an old friend of mine to say something after dinner at his 75th birthday. I didn’t know what to do, so I thought, “Well, I’ll learn these poems and see how they go.” They went well, and then I had to say things at different awards ceremonies, and I tried them there, and it grew on me that some people thought that I was just speaking my own thoughts. They didn’t realize it was written down—so the poems were written in a way that you could act them: they were written very conversationally. I had been in Minnesota doing Peer Gynt just before that, and I had been amused by a comedy record of Howard Mohr’s, in which he says that people in the Midwest live so isolated, in such cold, that when they are together they speak in non-sequiturs. And I thought it would be interesting to have two guys from Minnesota talking to each other in some of these poems. Then when I looked into it, there were definite themes in Louis’ poetry: themes of childhood,

of animals and birds, of age, and lots of poems about love and relationships with women. So, the conversations didn't need to be as disconnected as I had imagined. And I’d been ice fishing that winter, just before the Broadway speeches, and I had been fascinated by the experience of ice fishing early in the morning—how boring it was. I’d been outside of Minneapolis, very early and with a lovely guide. And I was very struck by the equipment: the TV camera, and the radar, and these tiny, beautiful little silver fish that came up. And that’s one of the humors of the play: the men go out there in heated huts with TV’s and refrigerators, and all this equipment. They want an experience of wild nature, but they take a lot of stuff to protect themselves from that intimate experience. How would you describe the story of the play? It’s a play about two friends in midlife meeting for an ice fishing day, which is their annual thing, and they’re hunting for something essential— like the first poem in the play says, they’re out there looking for something deep, something big enough to swallow them whole. They’re out there on the last day of the fishing season. And they’re out there way past where they should be, and when they should be. They’re on the edge.

Did that story suggest itself to you from within the poems, or were you weaving the poems into a narrative that you already had in mind? The initial workshop in 2008 just came out of the poems. And then in the development of that workshop into a production at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, I added a plot and wrote a bunch of scenes myself—a plot that was actually to do with going to a production of Das Rheingold and being interested in the Norwegian gods—the two gods who steal Freya, the goddess of eternal youth. But in the end I came to feel that the central idea of these men out on the ice, searching for something essential in nature, and in their own nature, and encountering that— that was enough. But I want to stress that it’s not going to be a poetry reading. You’re not going to be aware that you’re listening to poetry. It’s as if the play were a three-piece suit: I’ve got this incredible fabric that I’ve cut together. It’s going to look like a three-piece suit, but it’s got the most incredible weave of wool in it. Much better than I could ever do—because I’ve chosen 50 or 60 different bits from 500 of his poems. I’ve been able to take the most extraordinary writing from Louis and weave it into a play. In a way, these two characters are manifestations of Louis’ psyche or soul, or his creative continued on page 20

americanrepertorytheater.org 2015/16 Season 19


continued from page 19

You were last seen on Broadway as the title character in Richard III and Olivia in Twelfth Night. How does playing Ron, a 50-something unemployed Minnesotan, compare to playing these Shakespearean nobles? Well, it’s quite far away. It’s closer to a character I played in a farce called Boeing-Boeing, where a Wisconsin farmer’s son inherits a lot of money and flies to Paris to meet up with an old friend. (And I grew up in Wisconsin for ten years, from age nine to eighteen.) To some degree I am writing about my teenage experience of the Midwest. But the magical thing about Louis’ poetry is that because it’s in prose, people don’t realize how very, very finely it’s crafted. It is crafted as finely as an iambic pentameter sonnet—the rhythm and the choice of words, the choice of vowels and consonants, the juxtaposition of ideas. There’s even often a kind of flip in the poem; it may flip on an idea, or even flip on a word that can mean two things—very similar to the flip you get at the end of a Shakespeare sonnet. Because it’s written with such natural detail, and follows mundane events, and is written in prose, it sounds just like dialogue. You don’t realize how finely it’s crafted.

Here is a man going jiggidy-jig-jig in a black hole. Depth and the current are of only incidental interest to him. He’s after something big, something down there that is pure need, something that, had it the wherewithal, would swallow him whole. from “The Ice Fisherman,” by Louis Jenkins, published in Before You Know It: Prose Poems 1970-2005

Claire van Kampen, the director, is also a composer and will be scoring the piece. How is the music woven into the poetry, and into the extreme landscape of the play’s setting? The music is more to do with the soundscape of sound traveling across the lake. People who know frozen lakes—big frozen lakes—know that there’s a remarkable acoustic out there. For one, there’s the booming, cracking sound of the lake ice shifting, which is very unnerving at first. But then you realize that it doesn’t mean you’re going to fall through. You also hear things from miles away—conversations, music that people are playing off of their portable sound systems, airplanes, cars, wind.

Nice Fish follows Ron (played by Mark Rylance, above) and Erik, two men angling for something essential on the last day of the ice fishing season.

20 2015/16 Season americanrepertorytheater.org

You were last at A.R.T. in the 1991/92 season playing Hamlet and The Seagull’s Konstantin Treplev in repertory. Are you looking forward to anything in particular about being back in Boston? I love the snow in winter—I miss it here in England. Our winters are not so severe.

Interview by Robert Duffley, A.R.T. Publications & Artistic Programs Associate.

Photo: Mark Rylance in The Guthrie Theater's production of Nice Fish; Richard Termine.

impulse to put down something essential. Robert Bly, in his foreword to Louis Jenkins’ first book of poetry, said that he heard two voices in the poems: a child who has unlimited imaginative possibilities and an adult who just sees limitation everywhere in the world, and it was the mixture of these two that made the poems surprising and exciting. So Ron and Erik are a manifestation of those two voices; that was the starting point. The characters they meet are then something more.


American Repertory Theater/ Moscow Art Theater School Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University

MASTERS/CERTIFICATE PROGRAM

Acting • Voice • Dramaturgy A two-year professional training program fully integrated with the work of the American Repertory Theater, based in Cambridge, MA with residency at the Moscow Art Theater School in Moscow, Russia. For information, application, and tickets:

harvardtheatertraining.org

Don’t miss the 2015/16 Institute Season The Pirate Princess December 19, 2015 – January 3, 2016 A Big Mess January 22 & 23, 2016 Dying For It March 17 – 19, 2016 They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? April 6 – 8, 2016 A Big Mess - Remount May 25 – 28, 2016

americanrepertorytheater.org 2015/16 Season 21


A LONG WAY FROM HOME by Louis Jenkins

I saw Mark Rylance’s performance in the lead role of Peer Gynt, at the Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis in February, 2008, and was knocked out. Mark had undertaken to adapt Robert Bly’s translation of Ibsen’s play for the theater. Who is this guy, I wondered, who could take a strange play like that and make the character of Peer come alive? It turned out that Mark and I had mutual friends in Robert and Ruth Bly and in James Hillman and his wife Margot McLean, but Mark and I did not meet during that performance. One evening when I was home in Duluth, I got an excited email from Margot McLean saying that Mark had used one of my prose poems as his acceptance speech for the Best Actor Tony Award. I was flabbergasted. I watched the speech on YouTube and saw that with Mark’s delivery the poem had wonderful comic effect. I immediately emailed Mark, and from that contact our collaboration on the Nice Fish project began. The idea Mark proposed was that we use my poems as text of a story that he had envisioned. My first thought was, “this isn’t going to work.” But I said, “sure,” figuring that whereas I knew next to nothing about theater, Mark probably knew a lot. In December 2008, Mark arranged a workshop performance of one act of the play in

New York. When I arrived at Mark’s apartment he and Matthew Cowles were rehearsing a scene from the play. Mark had typed out the poems on sheets of paper and arranged them on the wall according to which poem went with which scene. So I joined in, putting my two cents worth whenever possible. Miraculously, it seemed to me, the play began to come together. We continued to work on the play over the next few years. Mark had the primary job of constructing and shaping the play. I provided the poems as speeches for each of the characters and, also, occasional bits of plot. It was in a way like putting together a jigsaw puzzle, finding the right place for each piece, or the right piece for each place, except that there were extra pieces and places continually shifted. When the play went to rehearsals at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis in March 2013 the process remained the same, poems on the wall, and with new cast members and Mark’s wife Claire van Kampen as director, the discussion was expanded. Due to this input the play grew and I think got better. I found it all to be great fun. The writing of poems is a solitary activity, and often the poems never leave the page on which they were written, or the room in which

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they were written. Working on a play in this manner is a much more collaborative, group effort. Working with Mark has always been a great pleasure. He seems to have endless energy and enthusiasm. And to have my poems take this direction is a total surprise, for them to wander so far from home. Of course, the poems are all my children. “What?” I say, “You are going into theater?! Oh, well, whatever makes you happy.”

Louis Jenkins in the co-writer of Nice Fish, and the author of Nice Fish: New and Selected Prose Poems. His poetry has been published in a number of magazines and anthologies including American Poetry Review, Gettysburg Review, Kenyon Review, Poetry East, Paris Review, and Virginia Quarterly Review.


GALA Monday, February 29, 2016 6PM | Citi Wang Theatre

The Boundless Gala is the A.R.T.’s largest fundraising event of the year, raising critical funds for the theater. Last year’s gala welcomed 500 guests and generated a record-breaking $1 million in contributed revenue. This year’s event is co-chaired by RoAnn Costin, Linda and John Henry, and Maureen and Mike Sheehan. The A.R.T. Angel Award honoree will be Anne Finucane, Vice Chairman and Global Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer for Bank of America. The evening includes a cocktail hour, seated dinner, live auction, and special performances. For further information, visit

americanrepertorytheater.org/boundless2016

Photos (Bottom-Top): Karen Snyder Photography; Karen Snyder Photography; Liza Voll.

The 2015 Gala, held at The Castle at the Boston Park Plaza, featured performances by Sara Bareilles (pictured above), Gavin Creel, and the band Parsonsfield.

americanrepertorytheater.org 2015/16 Season 23


FROZEN Or the (N)ice Fish(es) of Louis Jenkins & Mark Rylance by Christina Davis

In Call Me Ishmael, a text that reflects on that not-so-nice fish, Moby-Dick, the poet Charles Olson asserts that the singlemost defining factor of American literature is SPACE. “I spell it large,” he writes, “because it comes large here. Large, and without mercy […] Some men ride on such space, others have to fasten themselves like a tent stake to survive….” You don’t have to read far into the script of Louis Jenkins and Mark Rylance’s Nice Fish to encounter (inner and outer) space writ large. Though this space seems at first more regulated and tamed than Melville’s—by the physical constraints of ice, the polite confines of a Midwestern lake, the box-shaped prose poems that constitute the script, and a title that lacks any pretense at duende—the thaw that is occurring with increasing rapidity throughout the play ultimately involves (you might say, swallows) us all in its immersive and bewildering implications. But let’s start at the very beginning. Just what, you might ask yourself, is a “nice fish”? Like a “nice person” or the unwavering American “nice day,” one might theorize that a “nice fish” would behave our idea of it, would perform its fishness within the tidy conceptual lines we’ve drawn. From the outset, however, the origin story of this play has been marked by misbehavior and by the dexterous crossing of lines. At the 2008 and again at the 2011 Tony Awards, when Mark Rylance broke into an impromptu recitation of a Jenkins poem, it was as

though he had walked in, sung a bar of Alice’s Restaurant, and walked out. On the stage—a space intended to widen the gyre of the human imagination—Rylance awakened the Tony audience to just how rote (or to follow the play’s prevailing metaphor, how frozen) the idea of an acceptance speech—or, acceptable speech— had become. “I just don’t see why people have to be so inflexible, so unequivocal, so …. definite,” reflects Flo, the lone female character in Nice Fish. Her meditations are largely interchangeable with the lines assigned to the play’s other characters: three ice fishermen (Erik, Ron, and Wayne) and an Officer Obie-esque Dept. of Natural Resources rep who remains nameless. Just as “fish” can refer to a singular or plural entity, so too the individual characters (or “figures,” as they’re referred to) in Nice Fish are increasingly on the verge of becoming people/ pluralities and not a person. In a script in which designatory confusion is common (“I’m Axel damn it. Quit calling me Karl”), it doesn’t seem to matter from whose mouth the words emerge, save that they’re spoken. Like Dylan Thomas’ Under Milkwood, which incidentally had its first solo reading in Cambridge, Nice Fish is less a play of distinct personalities than “a play for voices.” This osmotic flow is not limited to the dramatis personae; it occurs at the structural level as well. Like a sung-through musical, Nice Fish doesn’t punctuate the underlying poems with transitional chit-chat or conversational segues.

The figures on stage, gradually released from the burdens of personality, become uncanny instruments that permit us to overhear the flow of time and space beneath, above, and around them. 24 2015/16 Season americanrepertorytheater.org

Jenkins’ poems are continuous throughout the script: they act as a collective unconscious which the speakers (gazing down through the ice, or up into the cosmos) tap into. Sometimes a poem is assigned to a single character in what resembles a traditional soliloquy, and sometimes the poem is divvied up among two speakers but should not be confused with dialogue. And sometimes, the poem is distributed across the characters like a spoken-word chorale. Though “fishing” is fundamental to the play’s conceit, “neighboring” gradually reveals itself as the more accurate and activating verb. Etymologically a “neighbor” is the nearest man, the nearest being to you in space. In the wide open spaces of the Midwest, this is no small thing. And in the “white space” (as it is termed) of a prose poem on the page, each lone line is given meaning through juxtaposition and proximity. In prose poetry, as critic David Lehman writes, “sentences remain ‘relatively autonomous’ but continuity is actualized through … ‘the orientation toward the neighboring word.’” Rylance and Jenkins have bravely retained this catalyzing quality of neighboring speech and boldly rendered it on stage— what another poet has called the dynamism of the “solidary.” Just as prose poems look like prose, but behave like poems, so too the characters in Nice Fish resemble fishermen but speak in the manner of metaphysicians: the seductive casualness of the backdrop and the folksy opening lines of Jenkins’ poems provide a kind of cultural security through which to enact a radical curiosity. The figures on stage, gradually released from the burdens of personality, become uncanny instruments that permit us to overhear the flow of time and space beneath, above, and around them. And, as the fourth wall thaws, our own presence in the neighboring wilderness “grip[s] down and begin[s] to awaken….” (William Carlos Williams).

Christina Davis is the Curator of the Woodberry Poetry Room at Harvard University


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www.inmanoasis.com americanrepertorytheater.org 2015/16 Season 25


Ubu Sings Ubu combines Alfred Jarry’s absurdist satire Ubu Roi with the art punk songs of the cult experimental band Pere Ubu. Starring Tony Torn and Julie Atlas Muz as Pa and Ma Ubu.

26 2015/16 Season americanrepertorytheater.org


FEBRUARY 4 - 5, 2016

UBU (x2) An Interview with Ubu Sings Ubu Director and Choreographer Dan Safer

Dan Safer is a director and choreographer whose work has taken him all over the world, from New York to Amsterdam to Bangkok. He’s worked with, among others, Jane Comfort, Bob McGrath and Chuck Mee, whose play Daily Life Everlasting he directed at La MaMa this past year. He currently runs Witness Relocation (last seen at A.R.T.'s 2010 Emerging America Festival with Vicious Dogs on Premises), a dance-theater company in New York City. Here, he talks about his process co-creating the mash-up musical-playevent Ubu Sings Ubu, which will be performed at OBERON Presents this February. How did you first get involved doing theater? I grew up in New Jersey, where no one else made the kind of work I wanted to do, so in high school I tried to make really pretentious, fake Pina Bausch stuff. It was awful, but at least I was trying. I went to NYU’s Experimental Theater Wing and studied physically based theater there. Then I lived in Bangkok for three years, studied a lot of traditional Thai work, and mixed Western and Thai styles. I always had a big dance background even though I was doing theater. When I came back to New York I interned with Jane Comfort’s dance company in New York, and that was a big influence on me. Then I began performing with Ridge Theater and Bob McGrath, who I still work with as a choreographer now. Working with Ridge and a lot of New York companies back then was a big influence on me, and it helped me figure out who I was and what I did.

Photo: Tony Torn and Julie Atlas Muz in Ubu Sings Ubu; Max Basch.

How did Ubu Sings Ubu come about? This was Tony Torn’s baby. He’s an actor I’d always wanted to work with, and we did a show a couple years ago called Civilization in which he played a giant psychotic pig. I helped him come up with pig movements and dances, and we just got along incredibly. Later, Tony got an offer from the Prelude Festival to do anything, so he decided he wanted to try out his dream show mashing up Jarry’s Ubu Roi with the music of the punk band Pere Ubu, and he asked me to choreograph some dances for it. It went really well and we decided to keep working on it. Tony and I would codirect, I’d choreograph, and he’d star and do the adaptation of the script. It’s a show I’d wanted to direct since I was in high school, so it’s been a dream show for Tony and me. Everything lined up. When you first read Jarry’s Ubu Roi in high school, what about it spoke to you?

think I understood it at all at that point, but to me it was this proto-punk play. If the origin of all this stuff I was fascinated by—Dadaism and absurdist theater, and also the Sex Pistols, Dead Kennedys and the New York Dolls—had come to a critical mass, maybe it was Ubu. It’s almost as though Alfred Jarry, Cocteau, and Artaud were the punk rockers of their day. Totally! That’s why it makes sense to do it with the songs of Pere Ubu. Ubu was famous for shocking people. I love the joke that the history of theater is the history of people rioting, and Ubu would absolutely fit into that idea. But what was shocking 120 years ago isn’t as shocking today. Absolutely not.

OBERON PRESENTS

UBU SINGS UBU Co-directed & Choreographed by Dan Safer Adapted & Co-directed by Tony Torn

LIVE BAND ON STAGE! DANCING GIRLS! MAYHEM AND DESTRUCTION! DRINKS! Presence Productions' Ubu Sings Ubu is a theatrical mash up of Alfred Jarry’s absurdist satire Ubu Roi and the art punk songs of the cult experimental band Pere Ubu. Starring Tony Torn and Julie Atlas Muz as Pa and Ma Ubu.

In directing and updating the play, are you finding a contemporary way to give audiences the feeling of shock that they got 120 years ago when it premiered? I think we’re pushing stuff, but no, I don’t know if anyone’s causing riots like that anymore. I think the culture’s changed too much. I think part of it is the thing I’m drawn to in punk stuff, which is this joyful nihilism. That’s kind of my thing. And people don’t often realize that the two can go hand-inhand, but they totally do, and maybe it’s the shock of that that we can achieve. That’s something that Tony and I line up on in every way. Given that the show has no fourth wall, are you a director who likes to bring the audience close to the action? Oh yeah. There’s no fourth wall. We don’t pretend the audience isn’t there, ever. People will get lap dances out there, and the bar is open the whole show. But we’re not so in-your-face with the audience. I always think of it as a feedback loop between who’s on stage, who’s in the audience, and how we feed off each other’s energy. The more you can clarify that relationship and augment it, the more the audience becomes a part of your show and not just observing it. So I really cling to that relationship. That’s the most important thing to me: how much of the show happens in the audience’s imagination, or their lap, or their face.

Interview by Jeremy Fassler, a second-year dramaturgy student at the A.R.T. Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University.

I grew up in conservative Princeton, NJ, but I was a punky kid with purple hair, and this was a play where the first line is “SHIT!” It had epic battles in it and let you go wild! I don’t

americanrepertorytheater.org 2015/16 Season 27


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THEY SHOOT HORSES, DON’T THEY?

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MON

TUE

THU 5/25 5/26 7:30PM 8:30PM

WED

SUN

MON

TUE

WED

THU

FRI

5/27 7PM

FRI

5/25 5/26 5/27 7:30PM 7:30PM 7:30PM

THE DONKEY SHOW OBERON - Every Saturday Night

SUN

FRI

SAT

7:30PM 10:30PM

SAT

5/28 2PM 7:30PM

SAT

5/28 2PM 7:30PM

7:30PM

5/28 2PM

5/17 5/18 5/19 5/20 5/21 7:30PM 7:30PM 7:30PM 7:30PM 7:30PM

OC

THU

5/28 2PM 7:30PM

5/13 5/14 5/10 5/11 5/12 7:30PM 7:30PM 7:30PM 7:30PM 7:30PM

TUE

A BIG MESS - REMOUNT

MON

The EX - Starts May 25, 2016

5/29 2PM

5/22 2PM

OC

5/15 2PM

SUN

5/14 2PM 7:30PM

5/18 5/19 5/20 5/21 11AM * 7:30PM 7:30PM 2PM 7:30PM 7:30PM

5/24 5/25 5/26 5/27 7:30PM 7:30PM 7:30PM 7:30PM

5/17 7:30PM

SAT

5/6 5/7 7:30PM 7:30PM

FRI

5/10 5/11 5/12 5/13 7:30PM 7:30PM 7:30PM 7:30PM

TUE

SAT

4/20 4/21 4/22 4/23 7:30PM 7:30PM 7:30PM 7:30PM 10PM

WED

4/26 4/27 4/28 4/29 7:30PM 7:30PM 7:30PM 7:30PM 10PM

TUE

IN THE BODY OF THE WORLD Loeb Drama Center- Starts May 10, 2016

5/29 2PM

5/22 2PM

5/8 2PM 7:30PM

SUN

5/15 2PM

2/28 2PM

MON

ROOSEVELVIS OBERON - Starts May 6, 2016

4/24 4PM 7:30PM

SUN

OBERON - Starts April 20, 2016

2/20 2PM * 7:30PM

SAT

2/25 2/26 2/27 2/24 11AM * 7:30PM 7:30PM 2PM * OC 7:30PM 7:30PM

2/16 2/17 2/18 2/19 7:30PM 7:30PM 7:30PM 7:30PM

TUE

2/23 7:30PM

MON

2/21 2PM 7:30PM

2/14 7:30PM

SUN

1984 Loeb Drama Center - Starts February 14, 2016

SUN

UBU SINGS UBU

TUE

OBERON - Starts February 4, 2016

MON

SUN

THU

12/8 12/9 12/10 12/11 7:30PM 7:30PM 7:30PM 7:30PM

12/6 7:30PM

WED

SUN

TUE

A BIG MESS

MON

The EX - Starts January 22, 2016

NATASHA, PIERRE & THE GREAT COMET OF 1812 Loeb Drama Center - Starts December 6, 2015

As of 11/1/15

WE’RE GONNA DIE

Get your tickets today.

28 2015/16 Season americanrepertorytheater.org OBERON PRESENTS

A.R.T. INSTITUTE

THE EX 64 Brattle Street, Cambridge The Loeb Drama Center also contains the Loeb Ex, or Experimental Theater, a “black box” that is used by the A.R.T.’s Institute for Advanced Theater Training.

OBERON 2 Arrow Street, Cambridge Our flexible club theater offers our artists freedom to explore the relationship between audiences and performers. OBERON has been arranged as a seated cabaret, a dance floor, a runway, and many more configurations.

LOEB DRAMA CENTER 64 Brattle Street, Cambridge From a more traditional fully-seated proscenium to a roving promenade for actors and audience, the Loeb’s mainstage provides an intimate experience in any configuration.

VENUES

A.R.T. is committed to providing quality arts experiences for everyone. Discover more about A.R.T. accessibility services: americanrepertorytheater.org/access

- POST-SHOW TALKBACKS

SF - SENSORY FRIENDLY

- AUDIO DESCRIBED

- ASL INTERPRETED

OC - OPEN CAPTIONED

REGULAR RUN

OPENING NIGHT

PREVIEWS

A.R.T. SEASON

KEY


americanrepertorytheater.org 2015/16 Season 29

Henrietta’s Table

Grafton Street

JOIN IN ONLINE

IN PERSON

ONLINE

DON’T FLIP OUT— FLIP IT OVER. THIS IS A DOUBLE ISSUE GUIDE.

americanrepertorytheater.org

LOOKING TO DINE BEFORE OR AFTER A SHOW? VISIT: AMERICANREPERTORYTHEATER.ORG/RESTAURANTS FOR GREAT DEALS FROM OUR LOCAL PARTNERS.

THERE IS A FULL BAR IN THE PERFORMANCE SPACE AT OBERON.

REFRESHMENTS AND SNACKS ARE AVAILABLE BEFORE ALL PERFORMANCES & DURING INTERMISSIONS AT THE LOEB DRAMA CENTER.

FOR DISCOUNTED PARKING LOCATIONS CHECK: AMERICANREPERTORYTHEATER.ORG/PARKING.

A.R.T. IS ON THE MBTA REDLINE — HARVARD SQUARE STATION.

P

A.R.T. OFFERS OPEN CAPTIONING, AUDIO DESCRIPTION, ASL INTERPRETED, & SENSORY FRIENDLY PROGRAMMING AT DESIGNATED PERFORMANCES THROUGHOUT THE YEAR. EMAIL: TICKETSERVICES@AMREP.ORG / CALL: 617.547.8300

LARGE PRINT AND BRAILLE PROGRAMS ARE AVAILABLE AT SELECT PERFORMANCES.

ASSISTIVE LISTENING DEVICES ARE AVAILABLE FOR ALL A.R.T. PERFORMANCES.

ALL VENUES ARE FULLY ACCESSIBLE.

SF OC

americanrepertorytheater.org

OBERON 2 Arrow Street

52 Brattle St. toscanoboston.com

Toscano

Regattabar 1 Bennett St. regattabarjazz.com

52 Church St. sinclaircambridge.com

The Sinclair

1 Bennett St. rialto-restaurant.com

Rialto

1 Bennett St. noir-bar.com

Noir Bar

75 Winthrop Street nightmkt.com

Night Market

Loeb Drama Center 64 Brattle Street

1 Bennett St. henriettastable.com

617.547.8300 Tue.-Sun. 12-5 PM

BY PHONE

GET IN TOUCH

1230 Massachusetts Ave. graftonstreetcambridge.com

27 Church St. cambridge1.us

44 Brattle St. harvestcambridge.com

Harvest

Cambridge, 1.

89 Winthrop St. grendelsden.com

Grendel’s Den

13 Brattle St. beatbrasserie.com

Beat Brasserie

Restaurant Partners

For current promotions and discounts: americanrepertorytheater.org/discounts

Our friends are your friends. Meet our local partners.

LARGE PRINT

AMERICANREPERTORYTHEATER.ORG/PLANYOURVISIT

PLAN YOUR VISIT

Profile for American Repertory Theater

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A.R.T. Winter 2015-2016 Guide  

A.R.T. Guide containing articles about productions of Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812; The Pirate Princess; Nice Fish; Ubu Sings U...

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