John Jesurun's CHANG IN A VOID MOON Set for Incubator Arts Project this Month
John Jesurun's legendary "living film serial", Chang in a Void Moon, returns to New York at the Incubator Arts Project this March-April with new episodes 59, 60 and 61.
CHANG IN A VOID MOON, the first serialized play ever produced in NY, began in 1982 at the Pyramid Club with Episode #1, won a Bessie in 1985, and has been highly acclaimed through over 58 episodes produced to-date in New york, Munich, Zurich and Berlin.
For decades, Jesurun's exploded narratives have challenged the experience of verbal, visual and intangible perceptions. A winner of the MacArthur Fellowship, he is widely acknowledged as one of the foremost innovators of avant-garde theater, creating virtuoso works that overlap media and language in surprising and unpredictable ways. Notable productions include his "Philoktetes","Shatterhand-Massacree","Faust/How I Rose" and the Obie winning "Deep Sleep".
The drama (comedy and mystery) of Chang in a Void Moon revolves around the exploits of Chang, a businessman with diplomatic immunity in 52 countries worldwide, and his schemes to defraud the Peters clan, a wealthy family steeped in severe dysfunction. The shenanigans include an expanding cast of 40+ characters united in their single-minded determination to kill Chang.
In Chang, world events, political issues and popular psychological rhetoric become material for wild reinvention. Characters of the play are catalysts for some of the most significant historical events and fads throughout history, having apparently shaped world culture from the French Revolution through World War II to today. The Village Voice said of the work, "these nonsensical events are a consistent half-step away from the daily headlines, just far enough to be comic. Thrown at us in Jesurun's style, with its echoes and wacky verbal deformations, they drive you to that wild moment where laughter, helpless and uncontrollable, equals freedom." NY Beat said it contains "the astonishingly fleet, literate dialogue of screwball comedies."
Chang in a Void Moon laid the groundwork for a style distinguished by integrated creation of text, direction, set and media design. Chang is influenced more by film, television and radio than by theatrical convention. Scenes begin and end abruptly, as if cut and spliced together. Actors are suspended on platforms in various configurations to replicate overhead shots and shots from below. Sailboat races, car crashes and chases, levitating objects-even a decapitation-have all been staged with astonishing aplomb and a decidedly cinematic manner. A captivating intermingling of both contemporary American pop culture and world history, Chang is at once ironic yet oddly sincere. Michael Feingold said of the work, "Chang is an unremitting stream of violent acts offstage and violent verbal assaults on. They're made light instead of lugubrious by their fantasticated quality, which encourages us simultaneously to fear the infinite power of Chang's rich, unscrupulous characters, and to laugh at them as part of an outrageous cosmic joke." The characters of the serial mysteriously exist in a nether region where time is non-linear, events and circumstances erupt without context, and geographic boundaries are meaningless. At times characters appear to live simultaneously in multiple time zones, across many centuries.
Don Shewey made the observation that "It's really theater of language, the actors conjuring it all up with an earnest delivery that is often hilarious in its campy elevated diction. ...there is a historical continuum that connects Jesurun's writing backwards to Richard Foreman and Jim Strahs and forwards to Richard Maxwell."
With Chang, Jesurun has consistently worked with some of New York's most exciting performers. Over the years his company has featured: Steve Buscemi, Ethyl Eichelberger, Greg Mehrten,John Kelly, Edoardo Ballerini, Tom Murrin, Anna Kohler, Darren Pettie, Black-Eyed Susan, Ching Valdes-Aran, Mark Boone-Junior, David Cale, Frank Maya and the choreographer Neil Greenberg, among others. Many of these performers first came to prominence with their work in Chang, and most of them continue to appear in new episodes.
The new episodes this March/April bring several exciting additions to the piece-new characters, surprise guests, original music by the mesmerizing band Barbez and new staging and costuming. As always, audiences old and new (one can enter the story at any point) will be surprised with the new turns Chang will take; it's what they've come to expect from John Jesurun, the innovator whose cinematic opus is shot live onstage, without a camera.
John Jesurun is a writer/director/media artist based in NY. The work is distinguished by his integrated creation of the text, direction, set and media design. In 1982 he began his 58 episode serial play CHANG IN A VOID MOON at the Pyramid Club, NYC. Since 1984 he has written, directed and designed over 30 pieces including: the media trilogy of DEEP SLEEP (1986 Obie Award), WHITE WATER and BLACK MARIA, EVERYTHING THAT RISES MUST CONVERGE and SNOW. His work has been produced and presented by numerous venues including La Mama, the Kitchen, Walker Arts Center, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Wexner Center, National Theater of Mexico, Berliner Festspielhaus, Vienna Festival and Spoleto USA. Fellowships include NEA, Asian Cultural Council, MacArthur, Rockefeller, Guggenheim and Foundation for Contemporary Arts. Teaching: Goethe University/ Frankfurt, Justus Liebig University/ Giessen, DASARTS/Amsterdam, NYU, Tokyo University, Kyoto University of Art and Design, Bard College, Carnegie Mellon. His work is published by TCG, Yale Theater. His collection SHATTERHAND MASSACREE AND OTHER MEDIA TEXTS is published by Performing Arts Journal. Various projects include Harry Partch's Opera "Delusion of the Fury"/Japan Society, Jeff Buckley's "Last Goodbye" music video, PHILOKTETES/Soho Rep. FIREFALL/Dance Theater Workshop, LIZ ONE/ Chocolate Factory, STOPPED BRIDGE OF DREAMS/ La Mama, 2012.The first two episodes of his new video serial SHADOWLAND can be seen on Vimeo. Website: https://sites.google.com/site/johnjesurun/