La MaMa & St. Ann's Warehouse to Present LA DIVINA CARICATURA, 12/6-22
Presenters La MaMa and St. Ann's Warehouse, and producers piece by piece productions, Mabou Mines and Dovetail Productions-all ardent and longtime supporters of the "bad boy of avant-garde theater" (Village Voice) Lee Breuer-unite for the World Premiere of Breuer's epic magnum opus, La Divina Caricatura. Breuer wrote and directs the work, a mixed-media pop-opera with Bunraku puppets, a cast of singers and live music composed by Lincoln Schleifer that ranges from Motown to Broadway and reggae to raga. La Divina Caricatura, a metaphorical send-up of Dante's classic, concerns Rose the Dog, who makes a pilgrimage through love to Paradiso. Rose thinks she's a woman and fantasizes a mad love affair with her master John, an East Village independent filmmaker. The show, Part 1 of a trilogy, draws on material that stretches all the way back to Breuer's doo-wop opera Sister Suzie Cinema (1975).
Performances will take place December 6 - 22 at La MaMa's Ellen Stewart Theatre (66 East 4th Street): Tuesday - Saturday at 7:30pm, and Sundays at 2:30pm. Critics are welcome as of December 8 for an official opening on December 10.
Tickets are $40 ($30 for students and seniors), and can be purchased online at www.lamama.org; by phone at 212.475.7710 (Mon-Weds, Noon-6:00pm; Thurs-Sun, Noon-8:00pm) or866.811.4111 (Mon-Fri, 9am-9pm; Sat and Sun, 10am-6pm); and in person at the La MaMa Box Office at 74A East 4th Street (between 2nd Avenue and The Bowery), New York, NY (Mon-Weds, Noon-6:00pm; Thurs-Sun, Noon-8:00pm).
Hilton Als of The New Yorker describes La Divina Caricatura as "Bunraku puppets meets soul music meets Breuer's imagination." Lincoln Schleifer's music and arrangements-for lead singer Bernardine Mitchell as Rose the dog; a live band; a quartet of male soul singers, "The Poppers" (Ben Odom, Gene Stewart, Lee Williams and Roy Bennett); a trio of female backup singers, "The Wild Women" (Maxine Brown, Beverly Crosby and Sherryl Marshall); and members of the cast-incorporate the work of Bob Telson and John Margolis and cover a stunning array of styles, from 1950s R&B and 1960s soul to Argentinian tango, raga, reggae, rap, Gregorian chant and French folk tunes.
Since 1968, Breuer has worked to introduce a deconstructed version of the elaborate musical puppet theater to American audiences. The puppets in La Divina Caricatura, directed by Jessica Scott,areby some of the country's best designers: Julie Archer, Eric Novak and Emily DeCola and Jessica Scott. La Divina Caricatura draws upon previous Breuer / Mabou Mines works, including the original Shaggy Dog Animation, Sister Suzie Cinema, Prelude to Death in Venice, An Epidog, Summa Dramatica, Porco Morto, Ecco Porco and The Warrior Ant. There are echoes of still other Breuer creations from The Gospel at Colonus and Peter and Wendy to Mabou Mines DollHouse, which St. Ann's Warehouse premiered and launched onto a world tour that continues to this day.
While the staging of La Divina reflects the traditional performance of Buraku puppetry, the production is an animated feature film come-to-life. La Divina Caricatura is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts American Masters and The Jim Henson Foundation.