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american repertory theater | expanding the boundaries of theater
A Tango in Time
Dangerous Species Tennessee Williams Back at the A.R.T.
Of the A.R.T. Institute
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THE GUIDE MANAGING EDITOR Ryan McKittrick
Artistic Director’s Welcome
SENIOR EDITOR Robert Duffley CONTRIBUTORS Elizabeth Amos Chris Baker Yan Chen Rebecca Curran Leland Frankel Alexa Junge Bianca Leigh Annabeth Lucas James Montaño Diane Paulus Judith Rosen John Weidman Jen Worster DESIGNERS Tak Toyoshima Joel Zayac EDITORS Grace Geller Kimiko Matsuda-Lawrence Katalin Mitchell Zack Reiser Custom Publishing by Dig Publishing LLC 242 East Berkeley St. Boston, MA 02118 Advertise: firstname.lastname@example.org
DIANE PAULUS The Terrie and Bradley Bloom Artistic Director American Repertory Theater
WELCOME TO THE AMERICAN REPERTORY THEATER This spring, two A.R.T. productions invite us to travel to two very different worlds—first, to the poetic landscape of a fever dream, and then to the tango clubs of Buenos Aires. Following our 2013 production of The Glass Menagerie—which traveled to Broadway, the Edinburgh Festival, and is now scheduled to open in London's West End on February 2, 2017—we return to the work of Tennessee Williams with a new production of The Night of the Iguana. Premiered in 1961, the play was adapted for the 1964 film featuring Richard Burton and Ava Gardner. This production is directed by Michael Wilson (Broadway's The Trip to Bountiful, The Best Man, and former Artistic Director of Hartford Stage), an acclaimed interpreter of Williams' work. Learn more about the show's rich history in this Guide through a selection of letters, script drafts, and diary entries held in the extensive Tennessee Williams collection at Harvard's Houghton Library. The final production in our 2016/17 Season will transform our Loeb mainstage into a Buenos Aires tango club, or milonga. Told entirely through dance, Arrabal follows one young woman's journey to discover the true stories of Argentina's disappeared—among them, her father. Co-choreographed and directed by the Tony and Drama Desk Award nominee Sergio Trujillo (Invisible Thread, On Your Feet!, Jersey Boys), the show features a book by Tony Award nominee John Weidman (Pacific Overtures, Assassins, Contact), and the music of Academy Award-winning composer Gustavo Santaolalla (composer of the soundtracks for Brokeback Mountain and The Motorcycle Diaries), the legendary leader of the band Bajofondo. An irresistible blend of styles, Arrabal will even get audience members dancing with tango lessons offered at the theater before the show. From a rarely seen American classic to a new work of political dance theater, I invite you to experience the A.R.T. this spring!
@americanrep COVER Juan Cupini and Micaela Spina in Arrabal. Photo: Festival Iberoamericano de Teatro.
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FEBURARY 19 MARCH 18, 2017
THE NIGHT OF THE IGUANA Written by Tennessee Williams Directed by Michael Wilson
On the edge of the Mexican jungle, a group of troubled travelers seek shelter from a storm. Directed by Michael Wilson (The Trip to Bountiful, The Best Man), Williamsâ€™ feverishly poetic 1961 drama follows a hotel proprietress and the scandal-soaked Southern preacher who turns up on her veranda. A Nantucket portrait artist traveling with her ancient grandfather, a bus full of fuming Texan college administrators, and a party of vacationers collide in this drama about how far we travel to outrun the demons within.
ASL Interpreted Mar. 12, 2PM Mar. 15, 7:30PM Audio Described Mar. 16, 7:30PM Mar. 18, 2PM Open Captioned Mar. 16, 7:30PM Mar 18, 2PM
Tennessee Williams in Mexico in 1963 during filming of The Night of the Iguana.
Photo: Gjon Mili/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images.
By Chris Baker
“The Night of the Iguana is a play,” Tennessee Williams said, “whose theme, as clearly as I can put it, is how to live beyond despair and still live.” From 1950 to 1961, he developed it from a short story into a one-act and then a full-length Broadway-bound play. It was a tumultuous time, both professionally and personally. Director Elia Kazan, who had shepherded A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and Sweet Bird of Youth to commercial successes, turned to projects with other writers. The Kazan-less A Period of Adjustment received tepid reviews in New York, fueling Williams’ constant fear of failure. The playwright’s turbulent relationship with his partner Frank Merlo ended. As a new decade began, Williams was in transition, caught between success and failure, security and loss, despair and living. The Night of the Iguana reflected that conflict and volatility and would itself prove to be a transitional play in many ways: after The Night of the Iguana, Williams fell out of favor, lambasted for his experiments in dramaturgy, rejected for his move to more existentially despairing themes. The play opened on December 28, 1961, directed by Frank Corsaro and featuring Bette Davis as Maxine, the proprietress of a run-down hotel in the middle of the Mexican forest. It ran for 316 performances, garnered awards and nominations, and was Williams’ last Broadway “success.” To many, it was also his last great work, the final entry in a succession of beautifully lyrical Southern plays that began with The Glass Menagerie in 1945 and earned two Pulitzer Prizes along the way. Iguana shares with those plays Williams’ trademark rhythmical and flowing dialogue, heat-soaked passion, and rich characters. It also has Williams’ characteristic animal imagery; the titular iguana joins a sweet bird, glass unicorn, moth, and snake in the writer’s menagerie of creatures that are trapped or in peril, relying on the compassion of strangers or the sensitivity of loved ones to set them free. Thrown together in a jungle resort, Iguana’s characters—from the defrocked minister, Shannon, to the oldest living poet, Nonno, to the lusty Maxine—are all escapees and outcasts, the very fugitive kind that peopled so many of Williams’ earlier works. The playwright, a fugitive kind himself,
was dedicated to being their champion and poet laureate. The play is set in the dilapidated Costa Verde Hotel in the midst of the Mexican forest. The Reverend Shannon has been run out of his church for fornication and unorthodoxy and now acts as a courier and tour guide. At the start of the play he is leading a group of Baptist women through Mexico. Dissipated, on the verge of a breakdown, and surrendering to his desires with a teenage member of the Baptist tour group, Shannon is at the end of his rope, like the iguana tied up under the veranda, whose only hope of freedom is death. Shannon is comforted by Hannah, a transient quicksketch artist, and her grandfather, the poet Nonno, as well as by Maxine. Also at the hotel are a German industrialist and his family, who celebrate the news of the burning of London. “Fiends out of Hell,” says Shannon of the Germans, “with the voices of angels.” Shannon’s crisis of faith and despair of existence is met with a peculiar kind of faith in Hannah, who trusts that human beings really can reach outside themselves across gateways to one another. If The Night of the Iguana is the last of one kind of Williams play, it is also the beginning of another; a gateway to the playwright’s later, more experimental works such as The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore, Two Character Play and The Gnadiges Fraulein. The settings of the earlier plays, however fictionalized, are not only recognizable but also function as part of the social commentary of those plays. In contrast, Iguana’s setting, though based on the Acapulco hotel where Williams stayed in 1940, does not seem like a real jungle at all. Rather, like a painting of Henri Rousseau, it is an obviously artificial rendering of natural wildness that is at once both deceptively simple and seductively dangerous. Williams cut his characters off from the real world to contain them in a sweltering observation chamber with lush botanical trappings. They are, says scholar C.W.E Bigsby, “in a kind of limbo in which causality seems momentarily suspended. They become laboratory specimens.” Even the Nazis seem less like reminders of world politics than dangerous species who broke in from another cage. Williams used this technique
before in the fantastical Camino Real, in which characters were trapped in the imaginary confines of a walled street. But where Camino was peopled with recognizable figures such as Lord Byron, Casanova and La Dame aux Camélias’ Marguerite, Iguana’s characters are wholly Williams’ creation, made, it seems, for the purpose of the experiment. In Williams’ late plays, the playwright often uses techniques associated with Beckett, writing of trapped characters in universes whose logic remains unexplained. Trying to make meaning out of their existence, the characters self-consciously role-play, challenging the differences between reality and the artificial. The characters in Iguana are also “actors in a play,” explains Williams, “which is about to fold on the road, preparing gravely for a performance which may be the last one.” Though Iguana is by no means Absurd, it is much closer to Williams' elliptical later plays than it is to The Glass Menagerie. The Night of the Iguana, then, is perhaps best understood as a threshold play, poised between the lyrical, cause-and-effect dramas that secured Williams’ reputation and the departures in form and substance that occupied his later plays. Williams himself described the work as “more of a dramatic poem than a play… bound to rest on metaphorical ways of expression… Some critics resent my symbols, but let me ask, what would I be without them… Let me go further and say that unless the events of life are translated into significant meanings, then life holds no more revelation than death, and possibly even less."
Chris Baker (A.R.T. Institute for Advanced Theater Training '90) is the Production Dramaturg for The Night of the Iguana and is Assistant Professor of Dramaturgy at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Some of the information in this essay can be found in A Critical Introduction to Twentieth Century American Drama by C.W.E. Bigsby, Tom by Lyle Leverich, "Before the Fall—and After: Summer and Smoke and The Night of the Iguana" by Thomas P. Adler, and Hartford Stage Notes (Spring, 2003).
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Williams' edits to a draft of the script for The Night of the Iguana. Williams made numerous changes to the script over its two decades of development.
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WRITING THE NIGHT OF THE IGUANA The Night of the Iguana was Williams' most revisited project, with a composition process spanning two decades. During each phase of the play's development, Williams produced numerous drafts, some similar in character and theme and others divergent from what would become the version staged on Broadway. The primary sources here follow this evolution, from Williams' 1940 trip to Mexico through the Broadway and film premieres.
FROM WILLIAMS' ESSAY "THE SUMMER OF 1940"
MEXICO In 1940, Williams traveled to Mexico following a breakup with Kip Kiernan, a young dancer. The country left a strong impression on the playwright: although Williams revised many aspects of The Night of the Iguana over the 20 years between his trip and the play's Broadway premiere, the sultry, tropical, and somewhat dilapidated veranda of Hotel Costa Verde remained a constant setting.
Photos (L-R, Top-Bottom): Typed copy, with handwritten notes, of a page from the script of The Night of the Iguana by Tennessee Williams. From Harvard Library’s Tennessee Williams papers, 1932-1983. Copyright © 1961 by The University of the South. Reprinted by permission of Georges Borchardt, Inc., on behalf of the Estate of Tennessee Williams. (MS Thr 397 (245), Houghton Library, Harvard University.) The film adaptation of The Night of the Iguana was shot near Mismaloya, Mexico (pictured). Photo: Anaroza/Flickr, CC BY 2.0. One page from a draft of an essay titled “The Summer of 1940” by Tennessee Williams. From Harvard Library’s Tennessee Williams papers, 1932-1983. Copyright © 1961 by the University of the South. Reprinted by permission of Georges Borchardt, Inc., on behalf of the Estate of Tennessee Williams. (MS Thr 397 (768), Houghton Library, Harvard University.)
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BROADWAY After The Night of the Iguana was performed as a one-act at the Spoleto Festival in Italy in 1959, Williams quickly began expanding it into a three-act play. The full stage version opened on Broadway in 1961. The rehearsal process was tumultuous. Bette Davis, cast as Maxine Faulk, acted out against her fellow cast members and, as Williams' letter to director Frank Corsaro (opposite) shows, there was considerable tension among the cast, creative team, and playwright. Iguana faced mixed reviews from critics but received general acclaim from audiences, running for 316 performances.
After a tumultuous rehearsal process, The Night of the Iguana premiered on Broadway in 1961 featuring a cast including Bette Davis (R, as Maxine) and Patrick O'Neal (L, as Shannon).
FILM The movie adaptation of The Night of the Iguana was filmed in Mismaloya, just south of Puerto Vallarta. Leading actor Richard Burton brought his soon-to-be wife, Elizabeth Taylor, to Mexico during filming. The couple’s affair had been a topic of gossip for years, particularly on the set of Cleopatra (1963), in which Taylor played Cleopatra and Burton played Mark Antony. The film also marked an important moment in Williams’ career and personal life. While his first trip to Mexico was marred by youthful heartbreak, this final trip was overshadowed by the death of his longtime partner Frank Merlo. In a letter to a friend, Williams wrote, “My heart is heavy but I couldn’t have chosen a better place, not to forget, but to remember as peacefully as I can.”
Research by Annabeth Lucas, a first-year dramaturgy student at the A.R.T. Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University. Richard Burton (as Shannon) and Ava Gardner (as Maxine) on the set of The Night of the Iguana, directed by John Huston and released in 1964.
Photos (L-R, Top-Botton): The Night of the Iguana , original cast production. Photo by Friedman-Abeles © The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Richard Burton and Ava Gardner on the set of The Night of the Iguana. Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images.
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Letter from Tennessee Williams to Frank Corsaro, 1961 by Tennessee Williams. From Harvard Library’s Tennessee Williams papers, 1932-1983. Copyright © 1961 by The University of the South. Reprinted by permission of Georges Borchardt, Inc., on behalf of the Estate of Tennessee Williams. (MS Thr 397 (1305), Houghton Library, Harvard University.)
Williams wrote this letter to Frank Corsaro, director of Iguana's Broadway debut, during a conflict-filled rehearsal process.
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CELEBRATING 30 YEARS
The A.R.T. Institute for Advanced Theater Training Established in 1987, the A.R.T. Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University offers graduate training in acting, dramaturgy, and voice. The wide range of courses given by the international faculty provides students with unique preparation for the multifaceted demands of the professional theater. Each year, approximately twenty-three carefully selected students are admitted for a full-time, twoyear program that combines rigorous study with hands-on, practical experience in the theater.
(L-R, Top to Bottom) The A.R.T. Institute class of 2011 in I Speak Therefore I Am (dir. John Tiffany, 2011); Graig Drescher ('02) and John Berenthal ('02) in Cher Molière (dir. François Rochaix, 2001); Katori Hall ('05) in Spring Awakening (dir. János Szász, 2004); Tenelle Kadogan ('01), Tim Kang ('01), Jodi Lin ('01) Jonno Roberts ('01), Trey Burvant ('01), Scott Draper ('01), and Marguerite Stimpson ('01) in The Goldoni Project (dir. François Rochaix, 2000).
L-R: Steve Zahn ('90), and Jeff Zinn ('90) with writer/ director Eric Bogosian, rehearsing for a workshop production of his play Suburbia (1989).
Photos courtesy of the A.R.T. Institute for Advanced Theater Training.
30 YEARS OF THE A.R.T. INSTITUTE Thirty years ago, the American Repertory Theater welcomed its first class of students to the A.R.T. Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University. Launched in 1987 by A.R.T. Founding Director Robert Brustein, this two-year, graduate-level training program was created with an understanding that students can best prepare for a life in the performing arts by immersing themselves in the work of a professional theater, and by studying with faculty who are practicing theater artists. This May, the Institute will graduate its twenty-eighth class. At the end of their training, the twenty-two acting, dramaturgy, and voice students will have completed a rigorous program that combines coursework with practical, hands-on experience in the rehearsal room and on stage. They will have
worked alongside renowned performers, directors, designers, and writers who come from around the world to develop work at the A.R.T. And they will have traveled to Krakow, Poland and Moscow, Russia for residencies at two of Europe’s most prestigious theaters. Over the past three decades, graduates of the Institute have become leaders in the arts. Graduates of the acting program have performed on Broadway, in productions OffBroadway, and at theaters around the country while also appearing in feature films and as series regulars on numerous television shows. Dramaturgs serve as literary managers and artistic directors in this country and abroad. Graduates of the voice pedagogy program teach at top American universities. In 1998, the Institute formed a historic partnership with the Moscow Art Theater
School. Best known as the birthplace of the Stanislavsky System and as the artistic home of the playwright Anton Chekhov, the Moscow Art Theater is one of Europe’s leading companies. During their semester-long residency in Moscow, Institute students train with Russian actors, directors, choreographers, historians, and critics. The experience immerses students in one of Europe’s most dynamic and vibrant theater capitals. In addition to seeing plays, operas, and ballets at the hundreds of theaters in Moscow, students also perform to sold-out houses at the American Studio of the Moscow Art Theater School—the only English-language theater in Moscow. Over the past three years, the Institute has expanded the European component of its training through a new partnership with the Adam Mickiewicz Institute of Poland. En route
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(L-R, Top to Bottom) Jon Owens ('16), Nathan Lindsey ('16), and Shawn Nabors ('16) in The Shipment (dir. Marcus Stern, 2015); Faran Tahir ('92) and Mark Setlock ('92) in Kasimir and Karoline (1992), Peter Cambor ('05) in Spring Awakening (dir. János Szász, 2004); Ashley Monet ('15), Ben Sidell ('15), and Dralla Aierken ('15) in The Light Princess (dir. Allegra Libonati, A.R.T. 2014 & New Victory Theater 2015)
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Photos courtesy of the A.R.T. Institute for Advanced Theater Training.
to Moscow, recent Institute classes have spent a week in Krakow, taking workshops at the National Academy for the Dramatic Arts and seeing work staged by some of Poland’s most celebrated directors at the famed Stary Theater. The Institute’s international focus attracts students from around the world. Over the past ten years alone, acting, dramaturgy and voice students from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom have trained at the A.R.T. The recent launch of the new Theater, Dance & Media concentration at Harvard has given Institute and undergraduate students unprecedented opportunities to study and create new work together. Last year, four Theater, Dance & Media undergraduate concentrators spent their spring break in Russia, experiencing an intensive, condensed version of the Institute students’ semesterlong residency at the Moscow Art Theater School. This fall, Institute and undergraduate students performed together in Daniel Kramer’s production of A Dream Play at Farkas Hall. Since its inception, the Institute has shared and embodied the A.R.T.’s mission to “expand the boundaries of theater.” Institute students are encouraged to push themselves emotionally, physically, and intellectually in classes and in the rehearsal room, and to carry their curiosity and spirit of exploration into their professional work. The Institute challenges students to imagine and create the theater of the future, a goal best expressed by writer, performer, and activist Eve Ensler in her graduation address to the Institute Class of 2016: “Your work is to blow our minds open, to rip our hearts into caring, to dance us back into our bodies… I realize you must be the special ones; the ones who are capable of finding the vision, the force, to awaken us. You will be the ones to dance us back from the edge or to teach us how to fall. You will be risk takers, the likes of whom we have never known and you will tell the stories we have never heard, because we were afraid to hear them. And you will tell them in a way that opens portals to the possibility of how we will live in the new way.”
Russian choreographer and director Alla Sigalova (right) returns to the A.R.T. Institute for Advanced Theater Training with this spring's production of Carmen: Ă‰tudes, featuring members of the A.R.T. Institute Class of 2017. Sigalova's last work with the A.R.T. Institute, Final Cut (2014, above), explored the multigenerational emotional impact of war.
CARMEN REINCARNATED Choreographer Alla Sigalova returns to the A.R.T. Institute with a dance theater adaptation of Carmen
Photos (L-R): The A.R.T. Institute Class of 2014, Evgenia Eliseeva; Alla Sigalova, Milena Filina.
By Elizabeth Amos Forever fated to die at the hands of a jealous lover, the infamously seductive Carmen has been immortalized in pages and on stages around the world. Caught in a dangerous love triangle between a former military man and a handsome bullfighter, Carmen insists on belonging only to herself. Over hundreds of years and thousands of iterations, the tragic end of her story has remained consistent. Carmen has died countless brutal deaths, yet she has survived through legend, literature, theater, opera, ballet, and film to live another life at the A.R.T. Institute. This spring, renowned Russian choreographer Alla Sigalova will direct Carmen: Études, a movement-based production featuring the Institute Class of 2017. A story-driven director and choreographer, Sigalova finds artistic inspiration in the intensity of Carmen’s relationships and their consequences. “The actors move in the given circumstances of the story," she says. "Their physical expressivity is about storytelling, and the language is their bodies.” Her production is inspired in part by, and features a score from, Carmen Suite, Alberto Alonso’s 1967 ballet for prima ballerina Maya Plisetskaya. With artists and storytellers constantly compelled to grant her new incarnations, Carmen has become an international pop culture icon for every generation. In one of her earliest iterations, Carmen can be traced to the oral traditions of Andalusian families claiming the legend began with a Romani factory worker from Seville who unabashedly stood up for the rights of working women. This Carmen was a social activist whose cross-cultural relationship with a Spanish soldier was scandalous enough to saturate the story with eroticism and deceit and carry it all the way to the ears—and imagination—of the famous French author and scholar Prosper Mérimée. Mérimée was a frequent guest at the home of the Spanish Countess de Montijo—whose daughter he was helping prepare for marriage to the French Emperor, Napoleon III. It was during one of his visits to the Countess that Mérimée claimed to have first heard the tale of Carmen and her doomed love. Inspired by the story and by his personal research on Spanish Romani culture, Mérimée penned his 1845 novella, Carmen. The “exotic” locale and risqué subject matter made the novella a popular success, but Mérimée was not the only writer to breathe literary life into Carmen. Mérimée’s French contemporary, Théophile Gautier, wrote a short poem entitled “Carmen”
around the year 1939, also inspired by his travels in Spain. The subject is a devilish “gipsy” girl with a dangerous ability to dominate men—a clear match to Mérimée’s heroine. Parallel characters can be found in literature outside of France as well. In 1824 the Russian poet Alexander Pushkin wrote his own version of the Carmen story. In fact, Pushkin's “The Gypsies” is so similar in plot and theme to Mérimée’s Carmen that many scholars take for granted that Mérimée—who translated much of Pushkin’s poetry later in his life—used Pushkin’s poem as source material. While the ancestry of Mérimée’s story is a matter of great academic debate, there is no arguing the same when it comes to Georges Bizet’s 1875 operatic adaptation: librettists Ludovic Halévy and Henri Meilhac borrowed lines directly from Pushkin’s text. Premiering in Paris, Bizet’s opera brought Carmen's story to the stage for the first time and introduced the world to some of the most beloved and enduring music ever written. Carmen’s stage debut resulted in the global dissemination of what has in many ways become a world story, with Carmen continuing to be reborn and repurposed with each incarnation. With the advent of film came new generations of Carmens. As early as the 1918 silent film Gypsy Blood (titled Carmen in Germany) and as recently as Indra Bhose’s 2013 Bollywood Carmen Live, Carmen has marked
her place in yet another artistic medium. She made history in the groundbreaking musical film Carmen Jones (1954), the first mainstream American film with an all-black cast. She broke cultural and heteronormative expectations in Karmen Gei (2001), set along the coast of Western Africa and featuring a bisexual Carmen and Senegalese music and choreography. She even launched Beyoncé Knowles’ acting career in MTV’s Carmen: A Hip Hopera (2001). From the folklore of Southern Spain to MTV, Carmen is a character who has lived a thousand lives and touched many more than that. So what is it about Carmen’s story that transcends media, translates worldwide, and keeps artists and audiences returning to her time and time again? The answer for Alla Sigalova is that at its heart, the Carmen story is as old as the world— it is a love story. “Carmen is about pure, naked emotion… about passion and the sincerity of youth,” says Sigalova, who believes these central drives to be so distilled within the tale that they render words unnecessary.
Article by Elizabeth Amos, a first-year dramaturgy student at the A.R.T. Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University.
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ARRABAL Book by John Weidman
THE ARRABAL CREATIVE TEAM
Music by Gustavo Santaolalla Directed and co-choreographed by Sergio Trujillo Choreographed by Julio Zurita
A new tango-infused dance theater piece, Arrabal follows one womanâ€™s quest to understand the violence that took her father and disrupted a nation. Told through dance and the propulsive music of the band Bajofondo, the show features an ensemble and band direct from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Directed and co-choreographed by Sergio Trujillo (choreography, Invisible Thread, Memphis, Jersey Boys, On Your Feet!, Next To Normal) with music by Academy Award winner Gustavo Santaolalla (Brokeback Mountain, Babel, The Motorcycle Diaries) and book by Tony Award nominee John Weidman (Contact, Assassins), Arrabal invites audiences into the underground world of Buenos Airesâ€™ tango clubs for a dance between the present and the past. LARGE PRINT
THE ARRABAL CREATIVE TEAM by Jen Worster
"We wanted to find a language in dance parallel to what we were trying to do in music. I thought Arrabal was a fantastic opportunity to bring our music together with this choreography in a story that had some weight and that really represented Argentina."
Prepared by Jen Worster, a second-year dramaturgy student at the A.R.T. Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University. Translation contributed by Zack Reiser and Pablo Hernandez Basulto.
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GUSTAVO SANTAOLALLA, Composer Composer of the Oscar-winning scores of Brokeback Mountain and Babel, and recipient of 15 various Grammy awards since 2002, Gustavo Santaolalla is a world-renowned musician and co-founder of the triple-platinum band Bajofondo. Arrabal features a score created from Bajofondo's music, performed live by a band affectionately referred to as the "Bajofonditos." Sometimes categorized as "electronic tango," Bajofondo's music blends traditional tango music with elements from other genres including blues, jazz, rock, and electronic music.
Photo: Festival Iberoamericano de Teatro.
SERGIO TRUJILLO, Director & Co-Choreographer Born in Colombia, Sergio Trujillo is a Canadian dancer-turneddirector and choreographer. He is an Olivier Award winner for Memphis (2015) and Tony Award nominee for On Your Feet! (2016). In 2011, Trujillo had the honor of having four shows simultaneously running on Broadway: Memphis (Best Musical Tony Award, as well as Olivier Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, Drama Desk and Astaire Award nominations), Jersey Boys (Best Musical Tony Award, Olivier Award winner, Greenroom Award, Drama Desk, Dora, Outer Critics Circle Award nominations), The Addams Family, and Next to Normal (recipient of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize).
"I thought that it was important for me as an artist to tell stories that are specific to South America, and the desaparecidos are part of the tapestry of Argentinian political history and culture. Arrabal dramatizes an experience similar to what other countries in South America have gone through."
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Photo: Festival Iberoamericano de Teatro.
"We lived very close to those thingsâ€”I saw things in the streets when I was just a boy. When I was five years old, the military stopped a bus I was on. They yelled at all the men to get out, and then they pointed at me and said, 'You, too.' They made us line up facing a wall, and they searched us all for weapons. That's what that time period was like. I remember it well... And since then in our country, at least until 2015, there's been a struggle for human rights, and a struggle to bring to trial those responsible for these crimes against humanity."
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JULIO ZURITA, Choreographer Winner of the 2003 Capezio A.C.E. award for his co-direction and co-choreography on Cirtango, Argentinian choreographer Julio Zurita has performed in numerous tango houses and international festivals both in Argentina and around the world, in cities including Barcelona, Granada, Seville, Toulouse, Paris, Brussels, and Frankfurt, as well as in Uruguay, the United States, and Tunisia. He has choreographed productions including Tangos of Love Lost and Animal PorteĂąo, and did the general direction and choreography for the production of Broadway Nights in Lima. In addition to serving as choreographer for Arrabal, Julio also performs the role of Rodolfo.
Arrabal follows one woman's quest to understand the violence that disrupted a nation.
Photo: Festival Iberoamericano de Teatro.
JOHN WEIDMAN, Writer Three-time nominee for a Tony for Best Book of a Musical (Pacific Overtures, Big: The Musical, and Contact) and book writer for winners of the Tony for either Best Musical or Best Musical Revival (including Anything Goes, Contact, and Assassins), John Weidman wrote the book for Arrabal. During the composition process, Weidman wrote many of the scenes in English; they were then translated into Spanish, and those translations were used as a model for how to shape the scenes through choreography.
"There have been moments when I’ve said, 'If I could just have the actors say one line I could solve a problem that otherwise I cannot figure out how to solve.' But we've obeyed our rule not to include dialogue, although Arrabal has quite a complicated, muscular narrative. There’s a misperception that musical book writing is mostly about writing the scenes between the songs. The book writer’s primary job is to create the structure that supports the story. So, in this particular case, the story is told without words, but creating the structure, in partnership with my collaborators, has been the fundamental task. It’s been a challenge, but it's been an enormously satisfying one." americanrepertorytheater.org 2016/17 Season 19
A TANGO WITH THE PAST
Photo: Festival Iberoamericano de Teatro.
By John Weidman
On December 10, 2013, Argentina celebrated “30 Years of Democracy,” a national holiday marking the longest period of uninterrupted democratic rule in the country’s history. Thirty years without a military coup. A milestone. In a country which declared its independence only fifty years after our own. The most recent coup took place in 1976, when a democratically elected government was overthrown by a brutal military junta led by General Jorge Rafael Videla. Determined to eradicate anyone who opposed its rule, the Videla dictatorship systematically kidnapped, tortured, and in most cases murdered as many as 30,000 Argentines—young men and women “disappeared” by a regime which claimed to have no knowledge of who had abducted them or where they had gone. Discredited and humiliated by their loss to the British in the Falklands War in 1983, the Videla regime finally stepped aside, bringing to an end the seven-year period known in Argentina as the Dirty War. But there is an Argentine expression: “the past is predator.” And the searing scars which the brutal experience of the Dirty War had inflicted on the people of Argentina and on the Argentine psyche linger to this day. It is no accident that there are more psychiatrists per capita in Argentina than in any other country in the world. My first connection to this intense and tumultuous history, my first connection to Argentina, came not through the newspapers, or a book, or a documentary. It came first through music and then through dance. The music was, in a word, amazing. Vibrant, vital and—to my ears—incredibly theatrical. And it was produced by the Argentine/ Uruguayan band Bajofondo, which I heard play for the first time at the Highline Ballroom in New York. Fronted by their lead guitarist and composer, Gustavo Santaolalla, Bajofondo’s music was thrilling and electrifying, yes, but even more compelling (to me) was the fact that
it clearly proceeded from a cultural sensibility which I knew little or nothing about. I was hooked. This music came from elsewhere, and that elsewhere was Argentina. And when I found out that Gustavo was anxious to move his music into the world of musical theater, I wanted to be part of that process, however it might develop and wherever it might lead. Which several months later was to Buenos Aires and to my first real experience of the tango. The tango, I learned, was born in the working-class neighborhoods of Buenos Aires at the end of the 19th century—neighborhoods largely populated by immigrant men who had come to Argentina to make their fortunes, often leaving their wives and children behind in Italy and Spain. The intense emotions evoked by the dance, the passionate bond between tango partners, are said to reflect the feelings of these lonely men yearning for contact and connection. At once melancholy and joyful, constraining and liberating, “the tango,” said Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges, “is a direct expression of something that poets have often struggled to state in words: the belief that a fight may also be a celebration.” Intensely theatrical music, now married to intensely theatrical dance. Almost all the work I have done in the musical theater has involved taking an unnerving but exhilarating step into the unknown. And helping to create Arrabal was clearly going to be no exception. The creative team assembled to bring this new musical to life consisted of Gustavo and his remarkable collection of Argentine musicians; Julio Zurita, a brilliant Argentine choreographer with an innate sense of theatricality and story-telling; a cast made up entirely of Argentine dancers and actors; and multi-talented and multi-award-winning director and co-choreographer, Sergio Trujillo.
The story which we crafted was both political and personal. The coming-of-age tale of Arrabal, a young girl on the verge of womanhood, whose father, Rodolfo, was “disappeared” by the junta when she was just an infant. Eighteen years later she takes her courage in her hands and sets out to discover what became of the father she never knew, embarking on a journey which leads her into the sultry, shadowy world of Buenos Aires’ underground tango clubs. And the tools we would use to tell this story were the two things which hooked me in the first place—not words, but music and dance. Crafting the book for a musical is a peculiar and challenging task, often misunderstood even by the people who attempt it. To do it with virtually no language makes it even more challenging. (Word to the wise: Don’t try this at home.) That said, creating a musical which captures an audience’s imagination requires being sensitive to which story-telling tools— music, lyrics, dance, dialogue—are best suited to delivering the story with maximum impact. Which tools you need and which ones you don’t. And in the case of Arrabal, it was clear from the beginning that the most powerful way to tell the story would be to restrict our vocabulary to the music of Bajofondo and the tango driven dances designed by Julio and Sergio. We’re pleased with where we’ve come out. We hope you will be, too.
John Weidman is the writer of Arrabal. His work for Broadway includes Pacific Overtures, Contact, Anything Goes, and Assassins.
americanrepertorytheater.org 2016/17 Season 21
PROCLAMATION 4 ENSEMBLE REFLECTIONS
“The ensemble work showed me how to look through different points of view and look past borders set forth by our society or government.” EMMA CANON, Boston Latin School
“I've never been to the A.R.T before Proc, but after, I feel like I really do belong with the A.R.T family.” PHILLIP LY, Josiah Quincy Upper School
ALEX MOON, Scituate High School
“I am more comfortable in a group than I have ever been before because of Proclamation. Teamwork was an integral part of Proc, just as it is in life. (Yikes, that was deep.)” ATTICUS OLIVET, Cambridge Rindge and Latin School
PROCLAMATION Teens Expanding the Boundaries
In November 2016, A.R.T. presented Proclamation 4: Borders/Boundaries at OBERON and at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. The performance was the culmination of the A.R.T.’s eight-week after-school theater program for high school juniors and seniors, now in its fourth year. The 2016 Proclamation ensemble was comprised of nine teens, together representing six Boston-area high schools. The topics for this season’s Proclamation —borders and boundaries—inspired in-depth conversations, personal connections, and truly powerful writings created by our teen ensemble. In keeping with the A.R.T.’s commitment to fostering the next generation of theater artists, this year’s Proclamation ensemble worked under the mentorship of professional choreographers, local and international A.R.T. artists, and experts from our communities in workshops, performances, and field trips to deepen their understanding of the borders and boundaries built within and around our society. Through focused inquiry and creative expression, the ensemble explored, defined, questioned, and tested these boundaries, ranging from actual walls to cultural contexts and emotional stumbling blocks. The result: a
22 2016/17 Season americanrepertorytheater.org
moving, immediate, and energized performance that illuminated the attitudes and actions that build walls between us and what we might need in order to break them down and achieve empathy. A.R.T. artists Marissa Roberts (Acoustica Electronica, The Donkey Show) and Brendan Shea (Nutcracker Turbo, Alice vs. Wonderland) led the ensemble in crafting their final show through in-depth performance and ensemble training, including improvisation, movement and choreography, dance, and playwriting. Aligning with the vision that drives the A.R.T.’s season, A.R.T. Education and Community Programs aim to instill curiosity, fearless expression, and engaged dialogue among participants and audiences. Proclamation expands the boundaries of theater by asserting and valuing the voices of the teens within our community and welcoming them into the A.R.T. family. Proclamation is a tuition-free program that cultivates creativity, open expression, and professionalism. All of our teens received their first professional theater credit and were each paid a stipend upon completion of the program.
Photos: Proclamation 4 ensemble, Gretjen Helene Photography.
“I think by giving young artists a professional environment to grow within, [the A.R.T.] really expands the boundaries of what teenagers and young artists can contribute to the artistic community, and gives audiences a perspective that would be hard to find among professional playwrights, choreographers and directors.”
Created by an ensemble of Boston-area teens, Proclamation 4 culminated in final performances at OBERON and at Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art.
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americanrepertorytheater.org 2016/17 Season 25