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Puppeteer Chris Green's Lyubo at HERE Begins Jan. 20

HERE Arts Center is proud to present the New York premiere of puppeteer and director Chris Green's visually arresting puppet/dance theatre piece Lyubo beginning January 20 and closing January 30. Performances are Tue-Sun @ 8:30pm; also Sun 1/23, 1/30 @4pm. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased in advance by calling SmartTix at 212.868.4444 or by going to Lyubo is a part of HERE's 2004–05 season featuring six premiere productions developed by their resident artists, four festivals, three exhibitions and the anticipated purchase of their space. Lyubo is also an initiative of HERE's signature Dream Music Puppetry Program—which is under the artistic direction of master puppeteer Basil Twist.

Lyubo tells the story of Philip Lloyd Sweetbriar, an American engineer and naturalist who lived in early 1920s Bulgaria, a time when rampant gangsterism in the town of Sofia rivaled that of the streets of Al Capone's Chicago. Suspected of being a spy (and later a fraud), Sweetbriar mysteriously disappears and later cited as dead. Yet, in Arkansas, Sweetbriar's daughter continued to receive packages from her father containing letters, naïve songs, prayers, stories of people he met, strange occurrences, and natural curiosities. As an animated illustration of these letters, Lyubo is an ode to Sweetbriar's love for his daughter and to his unwaivering faith during a journey through a divided country struggling to identify itself after five hundred years of occupation and two devastating wars.

A saturation of puppet theatre, dance and cinema (recreating cinemagraphic techniques such as zooms, frames and shifts in scale and perspective), Lyubo features original songs for live piano, tubas and a Balkan vocal duo. "This piece was created over three successive research trips to Bulgaria in starting in 2002," says director/creator Chris Green. "During these trips, I developed an understanding the history of Bulgaria's troubled borders, its mythology, and the sense of timelessness that surrounds so much of the region." The title stems from the Bulgarian word luboslovieh—meaning for "the love of words." Green was also particularly inspired by stories from writers Yordan Radichkov and Yordan Yovkov (author of The White Swallow), whose works have been rarely translated into English.

Chris Green began his puppet work co-founding the Kambing Na Isang Pa-a (One-Legged Goat) Shadow Play Theater in 1996. Since then, he has contributed original works to performance and dance festivals all over the country and India. Since moving to New York in 2000, he has puppeteered in Basil Twist's Petrushka (Lincoln Center, Jacob's Pillow, New Haven Festival of Arts and Ideas, Gilmore Festival), Christopher William's The Fairy Parade, Lake Simons's What's Inside the Egg?, Erin Orr's Savage Nursery, Dan Hurlin's Hiroshima Maiden (St. Ann's Warehouse), and Amy Trompetter/David Neumann's The Happy Prince. His most recent collaboration was with Kerthy Fix, Paul Kloss, and Matthew Acheson in Bedcase starring a pin-hole camera and a grand piano (St. Ann's Warehouse's 2004 Labapalooza festival). The rest of the Lyubo artistic team includes Matthew Acheson and Erin Orr (puppeteers), Deana Headley and Lisa Gonzales (choreographers), Rima Fand and Megan Wyler (chorus), plus three tubists. His work has received support from the Jim Henson Foundation and the TCG/ITI Travel Grant Program.

Sections of Lyubo were developed, in part, with the puppetry collective Theater Nobodies of the National Academy of Theater and Film Arts in Sofia, Bulgaria. Lyubo was also commissioned and developed during Green's residency in HERE's Dream Music Puppetry Program, which was inaugurated with the premiere of Basil Twist's OBIE-award winning Symphonie Fantastique (now currently running Off-Broadway at the new Dodger Stages) in 1998. Under the artistic direction of Basil Twist, with producing direction from HERE co-founder Barbara Busackino, Dream Music is devoted to the development and presentation of new puppetry—which focus on live music as a collaborative element—for contemporary adult audiences. In its intimate Dorothy B. Williams Theatre, specifically configured for puppet works, Dream Music has presented national and international puppetry from Great Small Works, Chinese Theatre Works, The O'Neil Puppetry Conference, The Elementals, Michael Sommers, The Henson International Puppetry Festival and Eclats d'Etats. Each year, Dream Music commissions 3 new full-length puppet works; develops new work through 6 to 8 annual Puppet Parlors; provides educational outreach through its partnership commissions for the legendary Village Halloween Parade; and offers national and international touring/presenting opportunities.

Since opening in 1993, the OBIE-award winning HERE Arts Center has housed New York's most daring and unique theatre, visual art, puppetry, music and dance in its three theatres, two art galleries and café. All work at HERE is curated based on the strength and uniqueness of the artist's vision. Previous works originally produced by HERE include Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues, Basil Twist's Symphonie Fantastique, Camryn Manheim's Wake Up! I'm Fat, and original musical and dance works created and directed by Executive Director Kristin Marting. In 2003, HERE launched its Secure HERE's Future campaign to purchase its space and secure its position as one of the city's preeminent presenters of multidisciplinary art.

HERE Arts Center supports the work of artists at all stages in their careers through full productions, artist residency programs, festivals and subsidized performance and rehearsal space. Lyubo is being presented through HERE's Dream Music program, with the support of the Jim Henson Foundation. Puppeteers Chris Green and Erin Orr are participants in the TCG/ITI Travel Grant Program, a project funded by the Trust for Mutual Understanding and administered by Theatre Communications Group. Hpnotiq is the official liquor sponsor of the Dream Music program.

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