Abrons Arts Center to Present BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, 3/13-30

Abrons Arts Center to Present BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, 3/13-30

What do you get when a born freak, a former beauty queen, and an award-winning maverick director take on a classic romance? From March 13­31, Abrons Art Center will present Beauty and the Beast, starring Mat Fraser and Julie Atlas Muz, directed by Improbable's Phelim McDermott. Fraser, the consistently inventive, provocative and entertaining British disabled actor/writer and Muz, the Downtown NYC performance legend and former Miss Coney Island, breath complexity and life into the eponymous characters, weaving an adult fairytale like no other.

Performances of Beauty and the Beast will take place March 13­30 at 8pm at Abrons Arts Center (466 Grand Street). Tickets are $35 and can be purchased by calling 212.352.3101 or visiting www.abronsartscenter.org Critics are welcome as of March 14. The show stars Julie Atlas Muz, Mat Fraser, and puppeteers Jonny Dixon and Jess Mabel Jones.

Following their 2010 performance of an earlier version of the work, Muz and Fraser were challenged by critics to go beyond the production they had developed. The duo teamed up with renowned director Phelim McDermott (Satyagraha, Shockheaded Peter) to completely re-imagine the piece and weave their own love story throughout the plot. Using inventive staging that blends song, dance, puppetry and shadow play in a multi-layered story, this
production is a magical sexual journey into real and fabled romance between people and characters. Declared to be a work of "beautiful, beastly brilliance" by the Telegraph?one of seven 4-star reviews by the British press?Beauty and the Beast will re-kindle your lust for life and challenge you to think about who loves whom and why they do

Access All Areas: Live Art and Disability (NYC edition) will take place Saturday March 29, 2014. This free, daylong event looks at some of the radical approaches to representations of disability being taken by contemporary performance artists, particularly in the UK. Offerings will include durational performances by Noemi Lakmaier and Martin O'Brien, a symposium exploring the cultural impact of disabled artists, screenings of key works from recent decades, and a library. Full program details to be announced. Curated by the Live Art Development Agency (London, UK) www.thisisliveart.co.uk, with the support of the British Council.

Phelim McDermott is a founding member of Improbable. He has been directing and performing since 1984, when he co-founded dereck dereck Productions with Julia Bardsley. Directing includes Improbable Tales at Nottingham Playhouse, The Government Inspector for West Yorkshire Playhouse, A Midsummer Night's Dream for the English Shakespeare Company, and Shockhead Peter with Julian Crouch, a collaboration with The Tiger Lilies for Cultural Industry. He directed the West End show Alex by Charles Peattie and Russel Taylor at The Arts Theatre and Leicester Square Theatre. Productions with Improbable include the multi award-winning 70 Hill Lane, Lifegame, Animo, Coma, Spirit, Sticky, Cinderella, The Hanging Man and Theatre of Blood, in collaboration with the National Theatre. He directed the acclaimed Philip Glass opera Satyagraha, in collaboration with the
English National Opera and the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

Julie Atlas Muz has become one of the most acclaimed and prolific conceptual performers and choreographers anywhere. Her come-hither performances that have secured her a vaunted place in opposite realms ? the underworld and the establishment art world. Muz was named Lambent Fellow, Valencia Biennial Artist, Whitney Biennial Artist, and Artist-in-Residence from Chashama, Joyce Soho, Dixon Place and Movement Research. Since 2010 she has been touring large-scale theaters in France with the Cabaret New Burlesque as well as creating and starring in radical evening length productions in Spiegel tents around the globe.

Muz has created and toured The Freak and the Showgirl and Apocastrip WOW with her husband Mat Fraser. The show has been hailed as "gobsmacking" and has toured to shocked and delighted audiences in Australia, Holland, the UK and America. She has been featured in the Whitney Biennial and Valencia Biennial, received an Ethyl Eichelberger Award and a Lambent Fellow, and was a past Franklin Furnace artist. Muz proudly champions the tradition initiated by Lady Godiva in the 11th century of public female nudity as an act of political resistance. www.julieatlasmuz.com

Mat Fraser is one of the UK's best-known disabled performers and a multidisciplinary performing artist, actor, writer and musician who has played to a myriad of international audiences. Always interested in the relationship between disability and entertainment, his wit, subversive lack of political correctness, the sideshow style and his playful sexuality combine to make work that is new, challenging and funny. Fraser hosted the Opening Ceremony for the 2012 Paralympics, drummed with Coldplay in the closing ceremony and is a regular performer at The Box, The Slipper Room and Sideshows by the Seashore in Coney Island

Recent credits include The Fades, Cast Offs and Holby City, with documentaries such as Born Freak and Happy Birthday Thalidomide, as well as his award winning plays such as Sealboy: Freak, and Thalidomide!! A Musical, both financially supported by ACE. He also played the lead in the controversial "cripsloitation" action film Unarmed But Dangerous. Fraser is the titleholder of the Erotic Award (U.K.) for Best Male Striptease artist 2007. In January 2014, Fraser debuted his new solo shows commissioned by a group of British museums, called Cabinet of Curiosities: How disability was kept in a box. www.matfraser.co.uk

ONEOFUS Productions are self-proclaimed outsiders, with inclusivity at the heart of what they do. Traversing the world as radical artists looking for alternative ways to be inside, the main thrust of our work is to highlight, question and poke fun at the absurdity of normality, using a loving cup of artistic agitation.

Improbable is a theatre company founded in 1996 by Artistic Directors Phelim McDermott and Lee Simpson. The company has toured 30 countries, including Scotland, Syria, Germany, New Zealand, and the US, to venues such as the Sydney Opera House, the National Theatre, the Royal Court, ENO, Metropolitan Opera in New York, the Barbican, the South Bank, Camden People's Theatre, and beyond.

Their shows include large-scale shows like STICKY, an outdoor piece with giant adhesive tape structures; THEATRE OF BLOOD, at the National Theatre; and SATYAGRAHA and THE PERFECT AMERICAN at ENO; as well as more intimate productions like 70 HILL LANE (winner of several awards including an OBIE), ANIMO, or THE STILL. In addition to developing new performances, for the last eight years Improbable has hosted and facilitated Open Space events under the banner of DEVOTED AND DISGRUNTLED. Open Space is a self-organizing process that enables large groups to tackle complex issues with no formal agenda. These events have seen the emergence of a nationwide community of artists and theatre practitioners who in turn have created projects, partnerships, theatre shows, theatre companies and theatre venues.

Established in 1999, the Live Art Development Agency has both responded to, and impacted upon, the increasingly influential nature of Live Art practices in the UK and internationally by developing an extensive portfolio of specialized resources, opportunities, projects and publishing activities; and by working strategically, in partnership, and in consultation with practitioners and organizations in the cultural sector.

This production is supported in part by Franklin Furnace and the British Council. The British Council creates international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries, and builds trust between them worldwide. We call this cultural relations. Working in more than 100 countries, we create long-term relationships with the UK that provide cultural, diplomatic and economic benefits. With offices in Washington, New York and Los Angeles, we are re-energizing the transatlantic relationship through the arts, education, society and English. We develop young leaders' networks and partner with international organizations to work on shared agendas. For more
information, please visit www.britishcouncil.org/usa.

The Abrons Arts Center is the performing and visual arts program of Henry Street Settlement. The Abrons supports the creation and presentation of innovative, multi-disciplinary work; cultivates artists in all stages of their practice with educational programs, mentorships, residencies and commissions; and serves as an intersection of engagement for local, national and international audiences and arts-workers.

Each year the Abrons offers over 250 performances, 12 gallery exhibitions and 30 residencies for performing and studio artists, and 100 different classes in dance, music, theater, and visual art. The Abrons also provides
New York City public schools with teaching artists, introducing more than 3,000 students to the arts.

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