The Chocolate Factory Presents Remix of UNCLE VANYA, Mallory Catlett's THIS WAS THE END, Now thru 3/5
Since 2000, director Mallory Catlett has worked across disciplines to expand the boundaries of theater. Through original works with her own company, Restless NYC, and collaborations with some of today's leading artists- Latitude 14 (Red Fly/Blue Bottle), Banana Bag & Bodice (Beowulf), Aaron Landsman (City Council Meeting) and Juggernaut Theatre Company (Oh What War)-Catlett creates theater that is "lurid, feverish and powerful" (New York Times) and has been called a "downtown treasure" by Time Out New York.
The Chocolate Factory is pleased to present the world premiere of Catlett's This Was The End, a performance in which four actors in their sixties and seventies attempt each night to get to the end of Uncle Vanya-in a last ditch effort to alter the outcome. In Chekhov's play, Vanya asks, "What if I live to be 60?" This Was The End performs an answer. It uses the play to pose questions about how memory functions in the formation of the future. The cast features veteran downtown luminaries Black-Eyed Susan (Ridiculous Theater & John Jesurun) as Sonya, Paul Zimet (Living Theater & Talking Band) as Vanya, Jim Himelsbach (OBIE for The Foundry's Talk) as Astrov and Rae C Wright (OBIE for Sustained Excellence with The New York Street Theatre Caravan) as Yelena.
The Was The End is a visceral exploration of aging. Memory loss, sleep disturbance and the dependence on medication all seep into this attempted reconstruction. Having the roles played by older actors makes visible the physical manifestations of time suggesting that there might be something haunting and surprising in Uncle Vanya, that only this older group of performers can uncover.
Performances of This Was The End will take place today, February 21-March 5 (see schedule above) at The Chocolate Factory. Critics are welcome as of February 21 for an official opening on February 23. The running time is 65 minutes with no intermission. The Chocolate Factory is located at 5-49 49th Avenue in Long Island City, Queens. Tickets, which are $15, are available online at chocolatefactorytheater.org and by phone at 212.352.3101.
The set design by Peter Ksander features the actual 60 X 14 foot wall from the Mabou Mines studio, which was salvaged from the PS 122 Community Center before it closed for renovation. The sound and video design features an improvisational score of voice and image that converge with the live performers. The video, which projects the wall onto itself, creates a temporal blur out of which the past can emerge and recede. The sound includes fragments of Chekhov's text mixed live onstage by sound artist G. Lucas Crane, a DJ of analog tape machines, to trigger memory and to create new configurations in the present. Like the aging characters, the physical cassette tape he records onto is a perpetually degrading medium that is breaking while it is playing.
Rounding out the creative team are Oliver Gajic (costumes), Chris Kuhl (lighting), Keith Skretch (video), Ryan Holsopple (programming), Johanna Meyer (choreography) and Kelly Shaffer Allen (Stage Manager).
This Was The End, created and directed by Mallory Catlett. Performance schedule: Preview Performances: February 21 and 22 at 8pm; Opening: Sunday, February 23 at 7pm; Regular Performances: February 26-March 1 at 8pm, March 5-8 at 8pm. All shows run at The Chocolate Factory (5-49 49th Ave., Long Island City, Queens). Tickets: $15; chocolatefactorytheater.org, 212.352.3101. Running time: 65 minutes with no intermission.
About the Artists:
Mallory Catlett (Director/Creator) is a director and dramaturg of performance across disciplines. In the last year she has premiered City Council Meeting, an experiment in performed participatory democracy, in Houston (DiverseWorks), Arizona (ASU/Gammage), just recently in NYC (HERE) and next year in San Francisco (Zspace); her production of Beowullf with Banana Bag & Bodice has had a 3 week run at American Repertory Theater (Cambridge) and toured to Adelaide Festival (Australia) and the Brighton and Bristol Festivals (UK); and last fall she directed Dread Scott's Dredd Scott: Decision as part of BAM's Next Wave Festival. Her work has also premiered in NYC at The Ohio, HERE Arts Center, The Ontological-Hysteric Theater, PS122, the Collapsable Hole and been featured at CultureMart, COIL and The Prelude Festivals. International touring also includes: Les Escales Improbables, (Montreal), Dublin Fringe, (Ireland) Exit Festival (Creteil, France) and Noorderzon Festival (Groningen, Netherlands). Upcoming work in new opera includes: The Wanton Sublime -Tarik O'Reagan (AOP/Roulette 2014), Scarlet Ibis - Stefan Weissman (HERE/Prototype 2015) and Little Crimes - James Maxwell (Restless/Vancouver New Music 2015). She was a member of the 2006 Soho Rep writers/directors lab and has been a resident artist at the Ontological's Incubator, HERE's HARP Program, Abrons Arts Center, Chashama, Digital Performance Institute and a British Studies Fellow at the Harry Ransom Research Center at UT, Austin. She received the Elliot Hayes Award for Dramaturgy for her co-direction of the Juggernaut's The First 100 Years: The Professional Female Playwright. Her writing on theater has been published in Canadian Theater Review and in this Fall's Edition of Theater Magazine - an essay on and the script of City Council Meeting. She is an assistant professorship at SUNY Stony Brook.
Catlett is the Artistic Director of Restless NYC, which makes on and off-site productions designed to excavate classical texts as a source of contemporary performance - to engage the past in a dialogue about its life in the present. This Was The End is the third production. The first two were site-specific productions of As You Like It & Richard II, which received development residencies at Chashama and LMCC respectively. For This Was The End, Catlett received a 2011 NYSCA Individual Artist Commission, 2 residencies at Mabou Mines Suite (2009-11) as well as residencies at Yaddo and the Performing Garage. Visit mallorycatlett.net for more information.
Black-Eyed Susan (Sonya) was a founding member of Charles Ludlam's Ridiculous Theatrical Company. She has earned a Villager Award, OBIE for Lifetime Achievement. Collaborators include: Jim Neu, John Jesurun, Mabou Mines, Ethyl Eichelberger, Sheila Callaghan, among others. Film work includes Ironweed and Black Maria, Stuart Sherman's A Portrait of an Actress, and Ironweed, a Taft-Barish production, among others. From 2006-09 she collaborated with Catlett and Latitude 14 on Red Fly/Blue Bottle, which premiered at HERE and toured to the Noorderzon Festival in the Netherlands and to EMPAC in Troy, NY. More recently she appeared in John Jesurun's Liz One and Stop Bridge of Dreams. She is the 2014 recipient of the Foundation for the Contemporary Arts Grant.
Paul Zimet (Vanya) is Artistic Director of Talking Band. Born and raised in New York City, he studied clarinet and voice at the High School of Music and Art, comparative literature at Columbia College, and medicine at Harvard Medical School. He has directed over 35 original works for Talking Band, including the following plays which he wrote: Marcellus Shale, New Islands Archipelago, Imminence, Belize, The Parrot, Star Messengers, Bitterroot, Party Time, Black Milk Quartet and New Cities. Recently he directed Hot Lunch Apostles by Sidney Goldfarb; and The Walk Across America for Mother Earth and Part I of The Lily's Revenge, both by Taylor Mac. He is currently writing (with Ellen Maddow) and directing The Golden Toad, a four-episode site-specific work. OBIE award for direction, and three OBIE awards for work with the Open Theater and Winter Project directed by Joseph Chaikin; a 2008 NewYorkTheatre.Com People of the Year award; The Frederick Loewe Award in Musical Theater; and a Playwrights' Center National McKnight Fellowship; alumnus of New Dramatists. He has taught theater at Princeton, Williams, NYU, Fordham, and Smith College where he is Associate Professor Emeritus in Theatre.
James Himelsbach (Astrov) was most recently seen as Pete Colt in City Council Meeting by Aaron Landsman, directed by Mallory Catlett. Representative roles include: Herman, the con man, in New Islands Archipelago for the Talking Band written and directed by Paul Zimet. As Charles Darwin in Susan Mosakowski's, Man-Made at the Ohio Theater directed by Susan Mosakowski. For the Foundry Theater, James appeared as Mr. Snow/Prospero in W. David Hancock's Deviant Craft, directed by Melanie Joseph, the play nominated for a Drama Desk Award. Also for The Foundry, Carl Hancock Rux' Talk, directed by Marion McClinton, in which he played Ion and received an Obie Award. He was Detective Williams in John Mighton's Possible Worlds, directed by Melanie Joseph. Other roles include Dr. Trammel in Michael Brandt's Missing Times, directed by Ian Morgan, and Progress by Matei Visniec as the Father at Here Center for the Performing Arts, also directed by Ian Morgan. For the Alien Play Festival at the McCarter Theater in Princeton, NJ, he appeared in Carl Hancock Rux' Not The Flesh of Others, directed by Karen Coonrad, also in Mr. Rux' play, Smoke, Lillies & Jade, at the Public Theater's New Play festival, directed by Daniel Alexander Jones. He was seen as the Reverend in Denis Johnson's Shoppers at The Sundance Theater Institute, directed by David Levine. In Lee Nagrin's The Valley of Iao, he played Bud, the playwright's brother, at LaMama Annex, the play directed by Lee Nagrin. James also appeared as Before Columbus in Susan Lori-Parks' The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World at BACA DOWNTOWN, directed by Beth Schachter. As an occasional playwright, James' one-act play, Zero King won the New England Theater Conference Play of the Year, and was subsequently produced in regional theaters across the US and was presented twice in New York City
Rae C Wright (Yelena) is a performer and writer. She is a two-time MacDowell Fellow and recipient of numerous commissions, grants and awards including both NYFA and NYSCA Fellowships. She shares a Jane Chamber's Playwriting Award with Deb Margolin for The Breaks, ('03 The Culture Project) and an OBIE for Sustained Excellence in the Theatre for her work as principal actor and lyricist in The New York Street Theatre Caravan. A long-time lover of Chekhov's work, she played Arkadina at ShowWorld Theatre, Ranevsky at the 19th St. Theatre. She's performed & directed at The Public, ATLouisville, Triad State, Portland Stage Co and Sundance; and appeared in countless obscure Indies -- including Borders with Steve Buscemi, Joe's Apartment, and award-winning shorts by Madeline Olnik, Juliet Lashinsky-Revene and Roy Eventov. She's played Bernie Madoff for Jennifer Miller/Circus Amok at PS122, Mum for Half Straddle at the Ontologic Hysteric Theater, and was in Taylor Mac's OBIE-winning The Lily's Revenge. She's a Prof in NYU's Film &TV Department.
This Was The End was presented or developed in part at The Performing Garage as part of The Performing Garage Presents Residency Program and has been supported by Mabou Mines Suite, NYSCA Individual Artist Commission, Women's Interart, Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Fund, New Georges, Yaddo, and AIM.
The OBIE awarding-winning Chocolate Factory Theater values the process of creation and the spirit of experimentation; and is a leading incubator for new developments in experimental performance. The Factory's 5,000 square foot facility is home to new work by the company's Founding Artists; and provides support to over 100 Visiting Artists each year.
The work of The Chocolate Factory's founding artists emphasizes multi-disciplinary collaboration combining movement, music, video and text to devise a means of storytelling that is immediate, collage-like, highly visual, and dependent on new technologies. When successful, the work is not easily categorized as theater, dance, new music, or video art and is rather a thorough intermingling of these disciplines. By extension, our curatorial values when it comes to Visiting Artists leads to work that exists across or between disciplines-work that requires new methods, more time, and a new kind of audience.