The Kitchen Presents HABITAT, 5/24 & 25
On Friday and Saturday, May 24 and 25, The Kitchen will present the world premiere of artist and playwright William Leavitt's one-act play Habitat, which takes place among neighbors whose adjoining backyards are located in a small American town. Registering the psychological impact of everyday things beyond one's power to control, the play continues themes of subtly estranged domesticity seen in Leavitt's earlier plays, such as The Radio (2002) and Pyramid Lens Delta (2003/2011). This marks the first time the artist's theatrical work has been presented in New York. Performances start at 8:00 P.M. Tickets are $15.
Habitat's neighbors are separated by a redwood fence, through which they engage each other in casual dialog. Although the seven characters sometimes speak of the circumstances that keep them at a distance from each other, their real tragedy becomes evident here not in their words but in the business of life and rituals of social interaction that distracts them from agreement, and ultimately a connection. They argue while events occur around them of which they cannot effect.
As originally conceived, Habitat was a plan for a theatrical installation, where the audience would observe the speech and action of characters only at a distance, and without a reference to any plot. Now developed into a more linear theatrical narrative, the play still suggests Leavitt's gallery installations, featuring overlapping speech and the distance of the audience from the action.
At the play's core is a sound environment-Leavitt is also renowned for his electronic music compositions-where voice is mixed with sound effects and music. The artist's interest in the texture of sound as a dramatic device was first inspired during the early 1990s, when he was working with experimental electro/acoustic musicians Joseph Hammer and Rick Potts-a duo who regularly wrote and recorded music for his theater works. Leavitt's own incidental music and sound effects are used in Habitat to create the atmosphere of small town surrounded by the greater U.S.A. and the vastness of its farmlands-the atmospheric reverberations of sprinklers and light planes on a late summer afternoon, for instance.
The running time is approximately one hour.