RIDDANCE World Premiere to Open 3/21 at MorYork Gallery
Writers Sissy Boyd and Wesley Walker team up for the world premiere of Riddance, an evening of hauntingly poetic new theater at MorYork Gallery in Highland Park, which is also by turns darkly surreal and humorous. It opens March 21.
A woman, an older dancer, is alone on stage. She struggles to make her first move. Memory buffets, cajoles her. To move, it would seem, she must give voice to her past. But memory is elusive, and who is this now sharing the stage with her? A ghost? Her mother? Can this possibly be helpful?
Sissy Boyd's play Riddance explores the gulf in comprehension between a mother and daughter. The protagonist forges from her splintered recollection a new voice, accruing a forceful inner strength while regaining her powerful physicality.
Wesley Walker's piece, A Man Entire, posits a world no longer worthy of Boyd's feminine strength. Paul and Ella flee their pursuers by train, by foot, but the relentless advance of their enemies leads us to fear they won't get away. Launched like a noir pursuit thriller, A Man Entire blends humor with a telescoping, jump-cut narrative style that drops the tale with a bang directly into the lap of its audience.
The pieces were conceived in thematic tandem, said Walker. "We think of it very much like a call and response."
Walker's work has been called "hysterically devastating" by Jennie Webb of Backstage, and "all some of us might need to die happy." Of Boyd, LA Weekly said, "One can easily detect the influence of Martha Graham's tutelage on playwright Sissy Boyd's [work]. Her elliptical melding of episodes keeps us in temporal vertigo, creating moving and droll moments."
Riddance marks the sixth time Boyd and Walker have worked together, dating to their early days in John Steppling's Empire Red Lip company. It marks the first time either has worked with Meg Foster (TV: Ravenswood, Pretty Little Liars; Film: They Live; Theater: Extremities, Three Sisters, King Lear), who Boyd says is perhaps the most exquisite interpreter of her language yet. Walker is pleased to work once again with Gill Gayle (TV: Deadwood; Theater: Pot Mom, Coyote, The Conception) and Chris Kelley (TV Writer and Theater of NOTE regular), each of whom has successfully brought his plays to life in the past. He's also excited to work with Zoe Canner and Michael Kurtz for the first time.
Walker directs the evening, and is supported by long-time collaborators Jeffrey Atherton (set/lights), Robert Oriol (composer), and Sharon Smith (composer).
Much of what is unique about the evening is the MorYork Gallery itself, which is a treasure box of artwork and rare antique finds by Clare Graham and Bob Breen, his partner.
Sissy Boyd studied with Martha Graham and danced with many diverse and avant-garde companies in NYC. She began her studies in poetry and playwriting after recovering from a paralysis called Guillain-Barre Syndrome, having lain motionless in Mt. Sinai Hospital for five months. As feeling and movement returned, she found herself less interested in dance and more interested in finding the words to describe her experience. She studied poetry with Holly Prado, and playwriting with John Steppling. Her play "Green Shoes," directed by Walker, was LA Weekly "Pick of the Week." Another play, "Liddy," is featured in the anthology Fever Dreams from Padua Press (2012), and forms the basis for a short film of the same name by Guy Zimmerman. In 2006, Les Figues Press published her book in the plain turn of the body make a sentence: 2 plays by sissy boyd. She has danced in a number of Ken Roht's Orphean Circus theater creations, and is a member of The Evidence Room.
Wesley Walker came to theater after an immersion in the L.A. post-punk music scene, and has long been associated with L.A.'s theater underground. Other subversive influences range from Antonin Artaud to the language-based theater artists of the off-off Broadway scene of the early 1960s. His plays include Wilfredo, The Conception, Freak Storm, and Fully Formed Human Head. He is Associate Artistic Director of Gunfighter Nation, John Steppling's theater company, and was a founding member of Pharmacy, Oxblood, and Empire Red Lip. His plays have been produced by Padua Playwrights, the Lost Studio, Theatre of NOTE, Bootleg Theatre, and others. His plays Wilfredo and Temple Dog appear in Plays for a New Millennium, from Padua Press (2004). He received an L.A. Weekly Award for his direction of The Conception, and has directed the plays of Murray Mednick, John Steppling, Sissy Boyd, Sarah Koskoff, and others. He conducts writing workshops for homeless kids, college students, and professionals.
Riddance runs Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2p.m., March 21 through April 6. Tickets to all performances are $15. MorYork Gallery is located at 4959 York Blvd. in Los Angeles, California 90042. There is ample street parking. For reservations and information, call (323) 660-8998 or go to www.facebook.com/frenectomyhouse.com.