Sunday, March 15, 2009

9 Questions for Kelly Copper (Nature Theater of Oklahoma)

Nature Theater of Oklahoma's RAMBO SOLO opens this week at Soho Rep. RAMBO SOLO is created by Pavol Liska and Kelly Copper in conversation with (and staring) Zachary Oberzan. Off Off Blogway sent over 9 Questions to Kelly Copper and she was kind enough to send us these answers:

1. It's rare to see shared “created by” and “directed by” credits. How do you work together – are there divided responsibilities or is it totally collaborative?

We've [Kelly and partner Pavol Liska] worked together a very long time. I would say this is a murky area. It's not always "collaborative" -- that's a sort of hippie word and it sounds prettier than what it is -- it's often combative. Sometimes we have the same brain, sometimes we don't. We talk all the time. We work all the time. The one overall binding principle I would say to our working together is that I know and trust that we will never put anything on stage that we don't both wholly stand behind. And that weeds out a lot of crap.

2. How did Rambo Solo evolve?

Rambo Solo started from a leftover question from our show No Dice. In No Dice Pavol was asking everyone we knew to tell him a story. And everyone said they couldn't tell a story. And the show became what it wanted to become, finally -- and it was about something else. But we were still left with this question about story and what does a story mean to people and why do we need one.

Pavol and I knew that the novel First Blood meant a great deal to Zack, and that he had read it many times, and so that was the starting point for this particular show. Pavol called Zack and asked: "can you tell me THIS story?" What is it about THIS story? And again, as usual -- the project becomes again what it wants to become. But it did come out of this leftover preoccupation with narrative storytelling from No Dice.

3. Nature Theater of Oklahoma has been touring a lot lately. Is your work received differently in Europe and in the US?

I don't really think it's that different. No more so than every audience is different.

The only thing I really notice is when we serve sandwiches in the theater -- there's much more suspicion about that in Europe. For some reason every once in a while you have an audience that's really afraid of taking the sandwiches. People in the US are more inclined to take free food, I would say. That's not very profound, but it's true.

4. Who are some artists that inspire you?

John Cage, Alan Kaprow, Jaques Rivette.

5. Do you want some day to have a venue of your own or do you like the challenges of creating work for various locations?

I think I still have the same stupid fantasy I had when I moved to New York 15 years ago -- that somehow I will find a cool garage and live in it and work in it. I would love to have a regular place to make work and not have to cobble it together all the time. But we've also learned to embrace spacial restrictions. We made Rambo Solo in Zack's apartment. We made Romeo and Juliet in our apartment. Ultimately, we can make it productive. Something always comes out of whatever space you have -- but I also wonder what it would be like to have a home. What sort of work would I make if the space was always the same? I have no idea. Maybe it would bring out something else in the work if my main problem wasn't always always the space.

6. Can you describe a show or performance you seen in the past year that has stayed with you and why?

The most exciting thing I just recently saw was on video -- William Forsythe's One Flat Thing Reproduced. Just dancers and tables. It was beautiful and mathematical and visceral. It made me excited to work again.

7. Looking at your body of work to date, which is wildly varied, is there a general “theme” or “philosophy” that can be derived?

I'm sure there is, but it's not something you really try to track. It doesn't help me to think about how the work is generally related to a theme or philosophy. If I was too busy nailing that down, I'd be trying to make work to fit the bill.

It bothers me now that this last body of work (including Rambo Solo) has all been created orally. So now people think of us as "those people who work with ipods and record their phone conversations". That's just a certain body of work. The next thing will be different. You have to throw yourself off track or your work does become fixed. I think about that a lot -- how do you not become content with a certain kind of work.

I'm 38 -- I'm not yet ready to be a mid-career artist. I want to keep experimenting. I think Alan Kaprow said that if an experimental artist is successful -- they usually only experiment once, and then just repeat themselves. That phrase really haunts me. I'm not content to just repeat myself.

8. What is your favorite part of creating a new piece?

I like the fear of not knowing exactly what it will be.

9. What's Next?

The first episode of a serial opera Life and Times that will open in Vienna in September.

pavol liska kelly copper rambo soloSoho Rep and Nature Theater of Oklahoma
Featuring: Zachary Oberzan
Conceived & Directed: Pavol Liska & Kelly Copper
Design & Video: Peter Nigrini

Performances begin March 19th.

For Tickets & Info: CLICK HERE

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Kaspar Hauser @ The Flea

kasper hauser flea theaterElizabeth Swados' Kaspar Hauser: a foundling's opera is epic in approach, absurd in style, and musically haunting at the center of which is a profound, committed performance by Preston Martin in the title role. This world premiere is being given a first rate production that rivals theaters at four-times the ticket price at The Flea. Try to catch it in its limited run through March 28th.

The Flea Theater presents
Kaspar Hauser: a foundling's opera
by Elizabeth Swados and Erin Courtney
Composed and Directed by Elizabeth Swados
Starring The Bats
Now through March 28th

For Tickets & Info: CLICK HERE

Friday, March 13, 2009

9 Questions for Caden Manson (Big Art Group)

Big Art Group's newest show, SOS, opens next week (March 19th) at The Kitchen. We sent over some questions for Artistic Director, Caden Manson and he was kind enough to send us his answers!

1. Who are some of your professional influences?

I have a big list of artists that I admire! Its a shout out - click away. Romeo Castellucci, Theo Kogan and Sean Pierce, Meg Stuart, David Altmejd, Paper Rad, Justin Bond, M. Lamar,, Rachid Ouramdane, Trajal Harrell, DD Dorvillier, Koosil-ja, Muta Imago, Nick Cave (artist not singer), Alain Platel,Frank Castorf,René Pollesch,Selene Luna,Jack Smith, Nibroll, A.L. Steiner, Paul McCarthy,and Dynasty Handbag to name a few.

2 .How has you work changed over the years?

The work has become physically bigger, conceptually more layered and thematically denser. It is definitely more aggressive in its relationship to an audience and to the performance form in general.

3. What is the most challenging part of creating multi-media work?

Finding a space in New York that we can afford to set down in for the duration of a creation process. With multi-media, it's important that the technology be with you from the start so that its organic and grows with the performers and conceptual and formal equations.

4. Can you name a work you've seen in the past 12 months that is particularly memorable?

There is a piece that has stuck with me for three years now. In 2006 I saw Ann Liv Young's piece called Solo (there are three people in it). I still can't get it out of my head. I haven't been surprised like that in a long time. In the last 12 months I had the chance to see a rehearsal of Romeo Castalucci's new piece based on Dante's Inferno. It was the Purgatorio section and I saw it in a theatre in Italy that we have performed in a few times. There were moments in the piece where I couldn't tell how something was being made. It became a kind of monstrous illusion. I kept having to check my self to make sure I was still seeing what I thought I was seeing. After it was over the entire audience sat there in silence for the longest time trying to get there bearings again. The piece is a formal and stylistic departure from his past work. I think it will be in LA next year. I hope it comes to Montclair.

5. Is there an idea for a piece that has intimidated you and that you have not attempted?
I'm methodical about my work. If I have an idea for a piece nothing really gets in my way. I find intimidation attractive as an obstacle.

6. Do you consider your work political?

Creating performance in America is a political act in and of itself. It is a creation without physical product that is an anathema to our capitalist culture. Beyond that, our work has a political point in its content and formal equations. The spoken text in the pieces is anti-theatrical and precisely political in it use and content. The formal aspects of the performances highlight the fissures in image construction and communication as well as the liquidness of identity.

7. What discourages you?

What discourages me is also what drives me to find ways around it to create work. SPACE!, TIME!, MONEY!

8. Your work is seen around the world, how do critics differ in other countries?

In the US we are working from within the Image Spectacle; subverting the messages and scrambling the codes. An American audience has a harder time breaking the shell of the pieces, because they are living them also. Outside of the US the work is viewed from a critical and cultural distance. Foreign audiences, because of their cultural distance, can mostly see though the shinny exterior of the work to the critique that lies under its skin.

9. What's next?

2009 is Big Art Group's 10th year. I'm very proud of the work the group has done and am really fortunate to have had the chance to work with such an amazing ensemble of artists. For the 2009/2010 season of Big Art Group we are planning a season at home in NYC. We'll be bouncing around to different venues and performing and presenting as much as possible. We are planning performance installations based on our early works The Balladeer, Shelf Life, and Ficker; Two new works in the Cinema Fury Project - The Sleep and The Dogs, Actions (installation/performance/parties) all season long, a new group work called NO SHOW and a big party to celebrate our 10 years of NYC survival.

Caden Manson / Big Art Group

The Kitchen - NYC
March 19-21 & 26-28, 2009

For Tickets and Info : CLICK HERE

Monday, March 09, 2009

Wooster Group's LA DIDONE begins next week!

The always-amazing Wooster Group brings La Didone to St. Ann's Warehouse for a six-week run. Baroque opera meets 1960's Sci-Fi as only the Wooster Group can do it!
The Wooster Group stirs these two Italian cultural artifacts together, dropping Aeneas' ships onto a forbidding planetary landscape, setting the lute alongside live electric guitar, blending acoustic and electronic space, and finding an unexpected synergy between early baroque opera and pre-moon landing sci-fi: A 21st-century retelling of an ancient tale about the destructive (and redemptive) power of erotic passion and the sheer tenacity of human nature in the face of annihilation.
A Baroque Opera by Francesco Cavalli
Libretto by Francesco Busenello
Directed by Elizabeth LeCompte
Music Direction by Bruce Odland
MAR 17 - APR 26
For Tickets and Info: CLICK HERE

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Itamar Moses' LOVE/STORIES extends 3 weeks!

The Flea Theater has extended Itamar Moses' Love/Stories (or But You Will Get Used To It) after receiving pretty much universal raves. Love/Stories is a collection of five short plays by one of the hottest young playwrights currently writing.
A casting session for a play about a love affair goes awry. A talk-back with a theatre audience becomes the occasion for a life-altering choice. A couple moving in together finds that greater intimacy can have surprising results. Nothing is what it seems in these five funny and poignant short plays.
The Flea Theater presents
Now through March 30.
Performance times vary.

The Flea
41 White Street
(Between Church and Broadway)
Tickets $20
(212) 352-3101 or