IMAGINING O, TATTOOED IN SNOW, APROPOS, ROCCO and More Set for Peak Performances' 2014-15 Season
Despite the welcoming size of its stage and its top technical offerings, nothing about the Alexander Kasser Theater at Montclair State University has been considered sacred since its opening ten years ago. Peak artists have moved inside, outside and about the theater with the greatest of ease, with only a single directive issued by Peak's Artistic Director Jedediah Wheeler: Challenge the minds and imaginations of audiences in unexpected ways.
The result: Peak Performances has proven that audiences can be in two places at the same time, as they were in Robert Whitman's spectacular 2011 "Passport;" that dances can be created for the cell phone, as they were in Susan Marshall's 2009 "Frame Dances;" that audiences can compose their own sounds and light, as was done in Christopher Janney's 2010 "Everywhere is the Best Seat;" that audiences' shoes can be instantly integrated into a dance, as they were in Robyn Orlin's 2011 "Walking next to our shoes...intoxicated by strawberries and cream, we enter continents without knocking..."
Richard Schechner, one of the great theatrical experimenters of the last half of the 20th century, opens the 2014/15 season on September 11 by taking Wheeler's mandate a step further, giving Kasser's glorious stage a minor role in the world premiere of "Imagining O." Rather than fully realizing its state of the art facilities, he has chosen to exploit its surrounding sites. And that is the tip of the iceberg.
Richard Schechner's "Imagining O" (September 11-13)
Scott Johnson's "Mind Out of Matter" (October 4-5)
Caroline Shaw's "Ritornello" (February 7)
Du Yun's "Tattooed in Snow" (February 8)
Robert Whitman's "Swim" (March 26-29)
Heidi Latsky's dance film (title to come) (April 16-19)
Bill T. Jones's "Analogy" (working title) (June 18-21)
Réka Szabó's "Apropos" (October 16-19)
Richard Alston's "Rejoice in the Lamb" and "Holderlin Fragments" (October 30-November 2)
Robyn Orlin's "At the same time we were pointing a finger at you, we realized we were pointing
three at ourselves..." (January 24-February 1)
Liz Lerman's "Healing Wars" (September 25-28)
Richard Alston's "Illuminations" (October 30-November 2)
Emio Greco | Pieter C. Scholten's "ROCCO" (February 12-15)
2014-15 SEASON DETAILS:
Imagining O (World Premiere)
Co-Directors: Richard Schechner and Benjamin Mosse
Movement Direction: Roanna Mitchell
Times: September 11, 12 at 7:30pm; September 13 at 8:00pm
The world premiere of Richard Schechner's "Imagining O," which will colonize the Kasser's lobbies, amphitheater and backstage areas, unites Shakespeare's women who died during his plays, most especially Ophelia-whose character merges with O in Pauline Réage's superbly erotic French novel, "Story of O." Schechner's theater work, like Réage's notorious 1954 novel, explores ideas of sexual submission, abjection, and power. The cast includes 14 women and a lone male.
Healing Wars (NY/Regional Premiere)
Times: September 25, 26 at 7:30pm; September 27 at 8:00pm; September 28 at 3:00pm
Liz Lerman's "Healing Wars," her most recent theatrical dance, explores the brutalizing traumas of war and the eradicable effects it has on both the healer and the healed. The 90-minute work, where real and surreal become one, considers the effect of war on bodies: what they bear, what they cannot bear, how we hide them, how we honor them when they are lifeless and how we patch them up while they live. The soundscape is by Tony Award-winning sound designer Darron L. West, the scenic environment is by David Israel Reynoso and the media designer is Kate Freer.
Alarm Will Sound
Mind Out of Matter (World Premiere)
Composer: Scott Johnson
Featuring the sampled voice of Daniel C. Dennett
Times: October 4 at 8:00pm, October 5 at 3:00pm
Twenty musicians from Alarm Will Sound will present the world premiere of Scott Johnson's "Mind Out of Matter," the composer's largest work to-date, October 4 and 5. Noted for equally celebrating the popular and classical and for being the first composer to create music from the rhythm and pitch of spoken words, Johnson uses the controversial writings of philosopher Daniel Dennett in this provocative new work. The goal of both composer and philosopher is to inspire audiences to think newly about the compatibility of science and spirituality.
Shanghai Quartet and Wu Han
October 12 at 3:00pm
Wu Han, pianist and co-artistic director of the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society, will join the Shanghai Quartet for the group's October 12 performance that features music by Franz Joseph Haydn ("String Quartet no. 27 in D Major, op. 20"), Robert Schumann ("Piano Quintet in E-flat Major, op. 44"), and Antonín Dvo?ák ("Piano Quintet no. 2 in A Major, op. 81").
Apropos (American Premiere)
Artistic Director: Réka Szabó
Times: October 16, 17 at 7:30pm; October 18 at 8:00 pm; October 19 at 3:00pm
The Symptoms is not a rock group, but rather a 12-year-old Hungarian modern theater/dance troupe that makes its American debut at Peak Performances with the premiere of "Apropos," a work in two sections. The first section, "I will be all of these things one day," is a profoundly moving solo performed by the company's 45-year-old founder and artistic director, Réka Szabó. The second section, "I don't remember being raised like this," a group work, incorporates interactive, real-time video that responds instantly to the performers' movement.
Richard Alston Dance Company
Rejoice in the Lamb and Holderlin Fragments (American Premieres), Illuminations (NY/Regional Premiere)
Artistic Director: Richard Alston
October 30-November 2nd
Times: October 30, 31 at 7:30 pm; November 1 at 8:00pm; November 2 at 3:00pm
One of Britain's most celebrated dance troupes, the Richard Alston Dance Company returns to Peak Performances to present a repertory radiant with Alston's musical originality. The music for each of the four works will be performed live. American tenor Nicholas Phan will accompany the American Contemporary Music Ensemble in "Illuminations," and pianist Jason Ridgway in "Holderlin Fragments." Ridgway will also play the music for the duet from "Unfinished Business." Montclair State's 24-voice student choir, Vocal Accord, will accompany "Rejoice in the Lamb." The two dances- as well as "Illuminations," an area premiere- are set to Benjamin Britten. "Unfinished Business" is set to Mozart.
Christopher O'Riley | NPR
From the Top
December 13th at 8:00pm
Musical prodigies are the heart and soul of this popular NPR radio staple, whose broadcasts take place in a different venue each week. The artists are all young and witty, and while often spiky in their responses to the questions from the show's host Christopher O'Riley, they're always gorgeous and inspiring in their musicianship. The show will be taped at the Kasser for national broadcast.
Robyn Orlin & Compagnie Jant-Bi
At the same time we were pointing a finger at you, we realized we were pointing three at ourselves...(American Premiere)
A piece by Robyn Orlin
January 24-February 1
Times: January 24, 31 at 8:00pm; January 25, February 1 at 3:00pm; January 29, 30 at 7:30 pm
Robyn Orlin's exuberant imagination will be front and center in her newest work, "At the same time we were pointing a finger at you, we realized we were pointing three at ourselves...," which is set to premiere at the Avignon Festival this month and will receive its American premiere at Peak Performances. The dance, created for and with the Compagnie Jant-Bi dancers at École des Sables in Dakar, Senegal, celebrates the body: its beauty, value and importance-something Orlin, a South African native, believes is often overlooked, if not berated, in Africa.
American Contemporary Music Ensemble | Roomful of Teeth
Ritornello (World Premiere)
Composer: Caroline Shaw February 7 at 8:00pm
Two extraordinary ensembles, American Contemporary Music Ensemble and Roomful of Teeth, join musical forces on February 7 to present a wildly varied program-think 17th to 21st century-of Caroline Shaw, Gavin Bryars and Henry Purcell. The evening features Gavin Bryars's "Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet," Caroline Shaw's 2013 Pulitzer Prize-winning "Partita for 8 voices," Henry Purcell's "Fantasia No. 6, Z. 737" and the world premiere of a revised version of "Ritornello," for which Shaw created both the music and film.
Shanghai Quartet and Du Yun
Tattooed in Snow (World Premiere)
Composer: Du Yun
February 8 at 3:00pm
The world premiere of Du Yun's "Tattooed in Snow" is among the highlights of the Shanghai Quartet's February 8 concert, which will also include Beethoven's "String Quartet, no. 12 in E-flat Major, op. 127," as well as Ravel's "String Quartet in F Major."
ROCCO (NY/Regional Premiere)
Artistic Director: Emio Greco | Pieter C. Scholten
Times: February 12, 13 at 7:30pm; February 14 at 8:00 pm; February 15 at 3:00pm
Inspired by Luchino Visconti's 1960 classic "Rocco and his Brothers," Emio Greco and Pieter C. Scholten's fast-paced, fleet-footed, alternately angry, loving and emotionally charged competition between the boxers uses the sport to metaphorically explore a search for identity. Since "ROCCO" is set in a boxing ring, the Kasser Theater audience will be seated on the stage, surrounding the dancers arena style. "ROCCO" will be performed to a soundtrack by Pieter C. Scholten.
Swim (World Premiere)
Times: March 26, 27 at 7:30pm; March 28 at 8 pm; March 29 at 3 pm
For Robert Whitman, the theater is a laboratory for audience perception. Take his newest work, "Swim." Working with the assumption that we all see and hear differently, and consequently experience the world uniquely, Whitman was invited to make a work for the visually impaired and the blind, as well as the sighted, offering each a different way to experience the same work. Whitman promises a performance rich in sound, movement, smells, and activities, in an effort to unite the audience into a single community.
Heidi Latsky Dance
Dance film (title to come) (World Premiere)
Artistic Director: Heidi Latsky
Times: April 16, 17 at 7:30pm; April 18 at 8:00pm; April 19 at 3:00pm
For her Peak Performances debut, Heidi Latsky, the first of three choreographers selected to participate in Peak Performances' "Dance for Film on Location at Montclair State University" project, will present "Triptych," comprised of the world premiere of Lastky's film (title to come) and two dances for the stage. The first, "Solo Countersolo" begins with Latsky dancing in counterpoint to an ensemble vigorously performing to a commissioned score by British composer Chris Brierley, who also created the music used in the film. The second dance, "Somewhere," set to wildly eclectic renditions of "Over the Rainbow," embodies Latsky's belief in the beauty of all bodies; it will be performed by a range of ballet and contemporary virtuosic dancers, as well as performers with cerebral palsy, Parkinson's and hearing loss.
Repast Baroque Ensemble
May 10 at 3:00pm
The Repast Baroque Ensemble makes its Peak debut, May 10, with "La Madonna," a program that features an array of Baroque works by Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber, Henry Purcell, Mar'Antonio Ziani, George Friedrich Handel, Giuseppe Sammartini and Antonio Vivaldi. The Ensemble includes Laura Heimes, soprano; Amelia Roosevelt and Claire Jolivet, baroque violins; Jessica Troy, baroque viola; John Mark Rozendaal, baroque cello; and Avi Stein, harpsichord.
Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company
Analogy (working title) (World Premiere)
Artistic Director: Bill T. Jones June 18-21 Times: June 18, 19 at 7:30pm; June 20 at 8:00pm; June 21 at 3:00pm Bill T. Jones's first work since 2013, "Analogy" will receive its world premiere at Peak Performances, which has commissioned four previous Jones works. In "Analogy," Jones juxtaposes the character of Ambros Adelwarth from W.G. Sebald's "The Emigrants" with an oral history Jones conducted with Dora Amelan, a 94-year-old French survivor of World War II, as a means to question the ways in which we remember things. By combining and recombining text and movement language, the dance explores the ways in which feelings too powerful to express are secreted inside us, while also offering a rumination on the nature of service, duty and the question of what is a life well-lived. The music, comprised of an original score by Nick Hallett combined with German Leider and songs from WWI and WWII as well as pop music from the 1950's and '60's, will be performed live. The set will be designed by Bjorn Amelan, the costumes by Liz Prince and the lighting by Robert Wierzel.
In addition to the performances, the season features two talks: "Why Are There Reasons?" by writer and Tufts University Professor of Philosophy Daniel C. Dennett on September 17 at 3pm. "An Evening with Richard Schechner," will take place on October 1 at 7pm. The discussion centers on the question of why or whether live performance is still relevant in a hyper-mediated culture that privileges digital technolgies and self-curated virtual experience.
The Alexander Kasser Theater at Montclair State University is located at 1 Normal Avenue, Montclair, New Jersey 07043. Tickets are $20, and are available at the box office, www.peakperfs.org, or by calling 973-655-5112. The box office opens July 1.
Charter bus service is provided from New York City's Port Authority Bus Terminal-arcade on 41st Street between 8th and 9th Avenues-to the Alexander Kasser Theater ($10 per person, roundtrip) for all Saturday and Sunday performances. Bus reservations may be made by calling 973-655-5112 or by visiting www.peakperfs.org. For train service, available only on weekdays, go online to www.njtransit.com or call 973-275-5555.
For restaurants close to the Alexander Kasser Theater, visit www.destinationmontclair.com.
Pictured, L-R: Ken Plas, Teresa Wood, Carl Socolow, brie abbe, Gabor Dusa, Nikolai Krusser, Photo courtesy of From the Top, Nicholas Whitman, Laurent Ziegler, Lois Greenfield.