Ain Gordon's RADICALS IN MINIATURE Headed to Baryshnikov Arts Center
Baryshnikov Arts Center (BAC) presents a World Premiere from playwright and director Ain Gordon, written and directed in partnership with percussionist and composer Josh Quillen.
In Radicals in Miniature, Gordon and Quillen perform a series of textual-sonic odes to personal icons of 20th century "alternative" culture. Theatrically conjuring a cabal of creative individuals who thrived largely between the Summer of Love in 1967 and the 1980's AIDS crisis, the work looks to history for perspective on the current social, political, and cultural moment.
BAC presents Radicals in Miniaturein the Howard Gilman Performance Space at Baryshnikov Arts Center (450 West 37th Street) on May 16-20, Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30PM; May 21, Sunday at 2PM; and May 23-24, Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:30PM. Critics are welcome as of the first performance, which will also serve as the official opening. Ticketsare $20 and can be purchased at www.bacnyc.org or 866-811-4111.
Radicals in Miniature draws from artistic investigation that has informEd Gordon's previous works, which involve, in his words: "sourcing real lives for live theater, focusing new attention on those who drift or are forced to the historic margin." In this collaboration, Gordon and Quillen-a gay man and a straight man of different generations-seek to revivify icons of personal significance that helped shape our culture, then lost their toehold on immortality and (in the pre-Internet era) their place in public memory. Together onstage, Gordon and Quillen speak, sing, play, interrogate, and partner in tributes to the undersung, resurrecting punk drummer David Hahn; dance reveler Elaine Shipman; club performer John Sex; disco artist Sylvester; the man who once bought makeup in Dover, Ohio, Brad Dinolfo; legendary character of New York street life, "Shakespeare;" and more.
Radicals in Miniature follows two prior collaborations from the work's co-creators: Where (we) Live (2012) and A Gun Show (2016)-both directed by Gordon and performed by the acclaimed ensemble S? Percussion, of which Quillen is a member. In Radicals in Miniature, Gordon makes his first stage appearance since his origination of the title role in the Off-Broadway production Spalding Gray: Stories Left To Tell (2005-12), for which he won an Obie Award.
Radicals in Miniature was created in collaboration with dramaturge Talvin Wilks. Lighting design is by Jennifer Tipton. Projections are by Ed Fitzgerald and Nick Ryckert. The work was developed, in part, during a Spring 2015 residency at BAC.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS:
Ain Gordon is a three-time Obie Award-winning writer/director/actor, a two-time NYFA recipient and a Guggenheim Fellow in Playwriting. Gordon's work has been seen at BAM Next Wave Festival, New York Theatre Workshop, Soho Rep, The Public Theater, 651 ARTS, Dance Theater Workshop, Performance Space 122, Baryshnikov Arts Center, HERE Arts Center, and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (all NY); the Mark Taper Forum (CA), the George Street Playhouse (NJ), Vermont Performance Lab, Flynn Center for the Performing Arts (VT), Krannert Center (IL), the Kitchen Theatre (NY), OnStage at Connecticut College, MASS MoCA, the Baltimore Museum of Art (MD), DiverseWorks (TX), Spirit Square (NC), VSA North Fourth Arts Center (NM), Jacob's Pillow (MA), LexArts (KY), and Dance Space (DC), etc. Gordon's 2003 work; Art Life & Show-Biz; A Non-Fiction Play, is published in Palgrave Macmillan's Dramaturgy Of The Real On The World Stage. Collaborations: with S? Percussion presented at the Walker Art Center (MN), BAM Next Wave Festival (NY), River To River (NY), and Philadelphia Fringe, etc; with Samita Sinha at American Dance Institute (MD) and PS122 COIL Festival (NYC); with Emily Johnson/Catalyst Dance at Northrop (MN), NYLA, On The Boards (WA), and ODC (CA), etc; with Bebe Miller at the Wexner Center (OH), Myrna Loy Center/Helena Presents (MT), and Bates Dance Festival (ME), etc; with David Gordon at American Repertory Theatre (MA), American Conservatory Theater (CA) and American Music Theatre Festival (PA). Gordon appeared in the original Off-Broadway cast of Spalding Gray: Stories Left To Tell and toured the production to venues including UCLA, Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (OR), ICA Boston (Elliot Norton Award nom), the Walker (MN), and New Territories (UK), etc. Gordon also wrote for NBC's Will & Grace. Gordon's work has received support from Jerome, Greenwall, the National Endowment for the Arts, New York Stage Council on the Arts, Department of Cultural Affairs, AT&T, MAP (four times), ART NY, Mellon, Foundation for Contemporary Performance Art, and NPN among many others. Gordon is a former "Embedded Artist" at the Historic Society of Pennsylvania, former Core Writer of the Playwright's Center (MN), former Resident Artist at the Hermitage (FL), was the inaugural Visiting Artist at the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage (PA), and a 2014 Artist-In-Residence at NYU Tisch School of The Arts. Gordon is Co-Founder of the Urban Memory Project and has been Co-Director of the Pick Up Performance Co(s) since 1992.
Josh Quillen has forged a unique identity in the contemporary music world as all-around percussionist, expert steel drum performer (lauded as "softly sophisticated" by the New York Times), and composer. His collaborations with other composers frequently incorporate the steel drums as a core element. A member of the acclaimed ensemble S? Percussion since 2006, Quillen has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Lincoln Center Festival, Stanford Lively Arts, and dozens of other venues in the United States. In that time, S? Percussion has toured Russia, Spain, Australia, Italy, Germany, and Scotland. He has had the opportunity to work closely with Steve Reich, Steve Mackey, Paul Lansky, David Lang, Matmos, Dan Deacon, and many others. Quillen started performing on the steel drums at Dover High School in Ohio, an interest that continued at the University of Akron, where Dr. Larry Snider founded one of the first collegiate steel bands in the United States. He traveled to Trinidad & Tobago in 2002, performing with the "Phase II Pan Groove" ensemble under Len "Boogsie" Sharpe. This interest in the traditional steel drum music of Trinidad ran in parallel with Quillen's education in western music, first at Akron, and then at the Yale School of Music with marimba soloist Robert Van Sice, where he received his Masters degree in 2006. These parallel interests led Quillen to break ground in the use of the steel drums in contemporary classical music. To date, he has commissioned over a dozen pieces for steel drums from composers such as Stuart Saunders Smith, Roger Zahab, Dan Trueman, and Paul Lansky. In 2010, Steven Mackey's quartet It Is Time - commissioned for S? Percussion by Carnegie Hall and Chamber Music America - featured Josh on a new microtonal lead pan in its Carnegie Hall premiere, receiving rave reviews in the New York Times. Quillen's compositions for S? Percussion are featured in Imaginary City, an evening length work that appeared on the Brooklyn Academy of Music's 2009 Next Wave Festival, as well as the site-specific Music for Trains in Southern Vermont. Other ensembles to play his pieces and arrangements include Matmos, PLork, The Janus Trio, Adele Meyers and Dancers, The University of Akron Steel Band, and the New York University Steel Band. An avid educator, Quillen is a performer-in-residence at Princeton University with S? Percussion, as well as co-director of the S? Percussion Summer Institute, an intensive workshop for college-aged percussionists on the campus of Princeton University. He is also co-director of the percussion program at the Bard College Conservatory of Music, and is the director of the New York University Steel Band.
Talvin Wilks is a playwright, director, and dramaturg. His plays include Tod, the boy, Tod; The Trial of Uncle S&M; Bread of Heaven; An American Triptych; Jimmy and Lorraine; and As I Remember It with Carmen De Lavallade. Directorial projects include the world premiere productions of UDU by Sekou Sundiata (651Arts/BAM), The Love Space Demands by Ntozake Shange (Crossroads), No Black Male Show/Pagan Operetta by Carl Hancock Rux (Joe's Pub/The Kitchen), the Obie Award/AUDELCO Award winning The Shaneequa Chronicles by Stephanie Berry (EST), Relativity by Cassandra Medley (EST - AUDELCO nomination for Best Director 2006), The Ballad of Emmett Till by Ifa Bayeza (Penumbra Theatre Company), The Owl Answers by Adrienne Kennedy (Penumbra Theatre Company) and The Peculiar Patriot by Liza Jessie Peterson. He has served as co-writer/co-director/dramaturg for ten productions in Ping Chong's ongoing series of Undesirable Elements and three productions of Collidescope: Adventures in Pre- and Post-Racial America. He has also served as companydramaturg for five collaborations with the Bebe Miller Company, Going to the Wall, the Bessie Award winning, Verge, Landing/Place for which he received a 2006 Bessie Award, Necessary Beauty and A History. Recent dramaturgical collaborations include work with Camille A. Brown and Dancers (Mr. TOL E. RaNcE, Black Girl: Linguistic Play, and ink), Urban Bush Women (Hep Hep Sweet Sweet, Walking with 'Trane, and SCAT!), baba Israel (The Spinning Wheel) and Ain Gordon (Radicals in Miniature). He was a researcher/co-curator/dramaturg for the 2013 Sekou Sundiata Retrospective, Blink Your Eyes, and the Aunt Ester Cycle at the August Wilson Center in 2009. He is currently writing a book on black theatre, Testament: 40 Years of Black Theatre History in the Making, 1964-200.
Founded in 1971 and incorporated in 1978 (as Pick Up Performance Co., Inc.) to facilitate projects by David Gordon, the company was expanded in 1992 to include projects by Ain Gordon and renamed Pick Up Performance Co(s) in recognition of the dual father/son leadership with independent projects by each artist. PUPCos continues to be artist-led with multi-generational NYC roots supporting the wide-roaming interests of both artists in dance, theater, media, social practice, and the fusing of disciplines. This work manifests annually in both New York City and nationally. For 46 years PUPCos has charted a personal aesthetic path.
Baryshnikov Arts Center (BAC) is the realization of a long-held vision by artistic director Mikhail Baryshnikov who sought to build an arts center in Manhattan that would serve as a gathering place for artists from all disciplines. BAC's opening in 2005 heralded the launch of this mission, establishing a thriving creative laboratory and performance space for artists from around the world. BAC's activities encompass a robust residency program augmented by a range of professional services, including commissions of new work, as well as the presentation of performances by artists at varying stages of their careers. In tandem with its commitment to supporting artists, BAC is dedicated to building audiences for the arts by presenting contemporary, innovative work at affordable ticket prices. For more information, visit www.bacnyc.org.
Photo by Jess Weitz