The Box Collective Presents 116 : A SHAKESPEARE PLAY, Now thru 4/20
The box collective announces the premiere of 116, an original devised performance piece composed of Shakespeare's text in a new form of storytelling.
Sara George and Andrea Goldman, co-artistic directors of the box collective, began the development of this piece 9 months ago after Goldman spent a year doing classical work at the Old Vic in Bristol, England. They both wanted to call upon the power of Shakespeare's text as a vehicle for a new form of storytelling. "There is so much power in the language, but we wanted to find a way for the audience to experience it for the first time," says George, who masterfully composed the text of 116 from the plays, sonnets and poems of William Shakespeare. "In the way the text is woven together it finds a modern immediacy in the relationship between a man and a woman," says George.
The play is built around a game of chess, which perfectly captures the dynamic struggle for intimacy between two people. Goldman grew up playing chess. "Chess is the game of kings and queens, it's a game of strategy and wits, but it originated as a game of war. In this case, the stakes have never been higher. It's life or death, as the characters play through the pieces of their lifetimes together."
Julia Watt and James Soller round out the team. Watt shares the role of co-director/deviser in this production alongside Goldman. She is a founding member of the American vicarious, whose production Living in Exile premiered at The Public Theater's 2011 Under the Radar Festival. She calls on her experience from previous ensemble site-specific performance work including, Chaos Manor, at Invisible Dog, Brooklyn and classical work as a company member at The Alabama Shakespeare festival for three seasons. James Soller performs opposite George as the male lead, recently back in New York after earning his Master's in Classical Theatre from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts.
The play is titled 116 after Shakespeare's Sonnet 116. For Goldman and George, it was always a love letter of the strangest kind. At the midpoint in rehearsal, Sara George learned that her father, Robert George, suffered from a stroke. She quickly flew back to California to spend the last remaining days with him before saying goodbye. As man of the theatre, he was George's first teacher of Shakespeare. And while this story is one between a man and a woman and the cracks that span lifetimes, it remains a love letter not only to the language of Shakespeare, but from a daughter to her father.
The box collective explores provocative new ways into live performance. "We focus on ensemble work and principally interdisciplinary ensemble collaborations," says Andrea Goldman, who founded the box collective in 2010. Their first piece, La Cueca opened in New York at gallery Solar and the Chelsea Art Museum with critical acclaim. The piece itself took place in Pinochet's Chile, where two actors find themselves buried alive at the beginning of the play. But it wasn't just the actors that were buried, but the audience as well. Their second piece, Sometimes at Night, opened last year in Berlin. It was touted by ArtiBerlin as "a true discovery in the Berlin Art Scene."
While the box collective typically focuses on the creation of new plays, this piece employs Shakespeare's text in provocative new ways that fully resonate with the box collective's mission, "This isn't about performing for an audience, it's about living through this with them," says Goldman.
Performances are today, April 15-19 8 p.m. / April 20th 6 p.m. at The New Ohio Theatre (154 Christopher St #1e, New York, NY 10014). Tickets are $25/$20 student. For more information, visit newohiotheatre.org.