Mount Tremper Arts to Stage World Premiere of JACK SPICER'S BILLY THE KID, 7/25-26
The Theatre of a Two-headed Calf
Jack Spicer's Billy the Kid (WORLD PREMIERE)
By Brendan Connelly, Brooke O'Harra, and Lisa D'Amour
Featuring songs by Brendan Connelly performed by Connelly and Rick Burkhardt
Mount Tremper Arts (647 South Plank Rd in Mount Tremper, NY)
$20; mounttremperarts.org; 845-688-9893
Friday and Saturday, July 25 & 26 at 8:00 pm
"Sex should be a frightening experience, like a dirty joke or an angel." - Jack Spicer
In The Theatre of a Two-headed Calf's latest offering outlaws are conjured and liberated in a performance inspired by San Francisco Renaissance poet, activist and renegade genius Jack Spicer's 1958 poem, Billy the Kid. Composer Brendan Connelly, director Brooke O'Harra, and writer Lisa D'Amour have transformed Spicer's poem into a series of songs woven together with excerpts from his lectures on poetry. In this imagining three outlaws - Are they poets? Are they gunslingers? Are they three parts of Jack Spicer? - meet in a room on the edge of some American frontier. Aliens, aliases and renegade desires (both poetic and sexual) possess them over a long night of drinking, singing and seeking. Manifestos are subverted/inverted/perverted in search of a poetic language that can queer their world. Jack Spicer's Billy the Kid brings together a host of longtime Theatre of Two-Headed Calf collaborators, including performers Becca Blackwell, Donnell E. Smith and Laryssa Husiak, to theatricalize "a poem somebody could hide in/with a sheriff's posse after him" (Jack Spicer).
The creative team also includes Simon Harding (light and set design) and Alice Taverner (costume design) with live music performed by Brendan Connelly and Rick Burkhardt.
The Theatre of a Two-headed Calf was born in 1999 in New Orleans with an objective to make collaborative, layered, formally rigorous work that has long gestation and rehearsal periods. Since then, co-founders Brooke O'Harra and Brendan Connelly have created work at La MaMa, E.T.C., PS122, Perishable Theater, the Ontological-Hysteric Theater and the HERE Arts Center, among other great venues. They received an Obie Award in 2008, as did company member Heidi Schreck for her performance in Drum of the Waves of Horikawa. The Two-headed Calf has an ongoing collaboration with the new music ensemble Yarn/Wire. In 2008, the Two-headed Calf added a department: The Dyke Division of the Two-headed Calf, which runs the ongoing lesbian soap opera, Room for Cream.
Although known primarily among a coterie of poets in the San Francisco Bay Area at the time of his death in 1965, Jack Spicer has slowly become a towering figure in American poetry. During hisbrief life as a poet, teacher and intellectual, he was never fully embraced by the mainstream or the counter-culture. For Spicer, the poet acts as a receptive host for language, rather than as an agent of self-expression. In his 1965 Vancouver Lectures, Spicer illustrated this process by claiming he received his poetry from "Martian" sources, from the dead, and by likening the poet to a radio receiving transmissions. He was a gay man living in a tiny bohemia, participating in early gay rights groups like the Mattachine Society. He was a beloved teacher who never seemed able to hold down a teaching job for long, in part because of his struggles with alcohol. He died at age 40 after being found comatose in the elevator of his apartment building. In the 50 years since his death, Jack Spicer's deep humanity and urgent aim to disrupt convention and provoke new thought resonates with writers, artists, gay activists and poetry lovers.
About Mount Tremper Arts
Since its founding in 2008, Mount Tremper Arts has quickly become recognized nationally for being an exciting and innovative new cultural arts center. Nestled in the Catskill Mountains, Mount Tremper Arts supports contemporary artists in the creation and presentation of new works of art. The Mount Tremper Arts Summer Festival celebrates the contemporary arts through an integration of performances, exhibitions, artist residencies, and hybrid programming. In addition to creating a laboratory for contemporary artists, it is an increasingly popular destination venue for cultural tourism.
Hosting the Summer Festival is only part of Mount Tremper Arts' mission; for the rest of the year, the studio hosts performing art companies in Creative Development Residencies. These residencies include 24/7 dedicated studio space and housing for periods ranging from three days to one month. Mount Tremper Arts also operates a subsidized residency program that is open to all performing art companies making contemporary work and offers affordable, dedicated workspace for intensive residency experiences. More information about residencies can be found at mounttremperarts.org/residencies.
For more information, visit http://mounttremperarts.org.