Big Dance Theater to Return to BAM with U.S. Debut of ALAN SMITHEE DIRECTED THIS PLAY, 9/30-10/4
Directed by Annie-B Parson and Paul Lazar with choreography by Annie-B Parson and the company, the show also features scenery by Joanne Howard, lighting by Joe Levasseur, costumes by Oana Botez, sound by Tei Blow, and video by Jeff Larson.
Originally conceived as a theatrical triptych using three separate film scripts -- Terms of Endearment, Dr. Zhivago, and Le Circle Rouge -- as source material, Alan Smithee slipped the reins of its structural framework to re-emerge in the form of a performance landscape where 1918 Moscow mingles with 1970s America, film clips converse with live action, and decades merge and blur. An ensemble of seven, including Big Dance Theater co-artistic director Paul Lazar and company veteran Cynthia Hopkins, occupies a stage littered with fur coats, lawn chairs, and telephones where revolutionaries pontificate, tragic lovers bid farewell under the threat of nuclear war, and American suburbanites grapple with abortion, debt, and divorce. The title, which references the pseudonym used for Hollywood directors who disassociate themselves from troubled projects, is a wry comment on the inherent impossibility of asserting any real "control" over the slippery, ever-morphing realm of creative inspiration and live performance.
Founded in 1991, Big Dance Theater is known for its adventurous use of music, text, dance, and visual design to expand and refract literary texts, weaving disparate sources and forms into seamless theatrical wholes. Under the artistic direction of Annie-B Parson and Paul Lazar, the company has created more than 20 works-each piece developed over months of collaboration with its associate artists, a longstanding, ever-evolving group of actors, dancers, composers, and designers. In 2000, the company received an Obie Award for its "passionate practice of the most implausible choreographic and literary concoctions." Directors Lazar and Parson were honored in 2002 with a Bessie Award for their "boldly arranged marriage of dance and theater," and Comme Toujours, Here I Stand received a Bessie Award in 2010 for Outstanding Production. The company also received the inaugural Jacob's Pillow Dance Award in 2007. Parson was recently awarded a 2014 Doris Duke Artist Award as well as the 2014 Foundation for Contemporary Art Award. Big Dance Theater has been presented in both dance and theater venues nationally and abroad, in Italy, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and Georgia.
Annie-B Parson founded Big Dance Theater in 1991 with Molly Hickok and Paul Lazar. She has choreographed and co-created more than 20 works for the company, ranging from pure dance pieces, to adaptations of plays and literature, to original works combining wildly disparate materials. Her work with Big Dance has been commissioned by BAM, National Theater of Paris/Chaillot, Japan Society, and The Walker Art Center, among others.