Ralph Lee's RINGDOVE Announced At St. John The Divine

Ralph Lee's RINGDOVE Announced At St. John The Divine

Mettawee River Theatre Company Returns To St. John The Divine With The Ringdove.

Mettawee's 45th Season Production
Written by former company member George Sand, with revisions and new material by Kristine Haruna Lee Directed and designed by Ralph Lee Costumes by Casey Compton Music by Neal Kirkwood Musicians: Ed RosenBerg, alto saxophone and hammered dulcimer; John Ling, vibraphone and percussion Puppeteers/Actors/Singers: Maia Karo, Greg Manley, Claire Moodey, Jared Thomson, Merlin Whitehawk

Ralph Lee's Mettawee River Theatre Company will return to the Outdoor Garden at the Theater of St. John the Divine with Lee's The Ringdove, drawn from The Panchatantra, a collection of allegorical tales whose origins reach back over 2,000 years to ancient India. The show will incorporate a range of masks, puppets and other visual elements by master puppetmaker Ralph Lee, whose creations have been seen throughout the years at the Metropolitan Opera, Lincoln Center Repertory Theatre, the Living Theatre, New York Shakespeare Festival, Saturday Night Live (that naughty Land Shark), and many more.

First produced by Mettawee in 1988, The Ringdove's central characters are a crow, a rat, a turtle and a gazelle, whose adventures, behavior and relationships reflect many aspects of human nature. The production tells the story of the creatures' growth in friendship with each other, as they achieve strength and harmony through cooperation and understanding. As always, a variety of Lee's amazing creatures and creations will inhabit the evening. The Ringdove draws on ancient wisdom but also speaks to us in the here and now with humor and zest," said Mettawee Artistic Director Ralph Lee. "It's a tale of friendship and generosity that seems a timely response to the state of affairs that surround us today."

Under the Artistic Direction of mask maker, designer and director Ralph Lee, the Mettawee River Theatre Company, founded in 1975, creates original theater productions that incorporate masks, giant figures, puppets and other visual elements with live music, movement and text, drawing on myths, legends and folklore of the world's many cultures for its material. The company is committed to bringing theater to people who may have little or no access to live professional performances.

In his design and direction, Lee seeks to create vivid theatrical moments with economy and elegance. This search for an evocative simplicity of image and Mettawee's commitment to making theater accessible to the widest possible audience through its outdoor performances give this theater company its particular character.

Ralph Lee first created puppets as a child growing up in Middlebury, Vermont. He graduated from Amherst College in 1957, and studied dance and theater in Europe for two years on a Fulbright Scholarship. Upon returning to the United States, Lee acted on Broadway, off-Broadway, in regional theaters and with the Open Theatre. During that period he started creating masks, unusual props, puppets and larger-than-life figures for theater and dance companies, including the New York Shakespeare Festival, Lincoln Center Repertory Theatre, the Living Theatre, the Erick Hawkins Dance Company, Shari Lewis, the Metropolitan Opera and Saturday Night Live.

In 1974, while teaching at Bennington College, Lee staged his first outdoor production, which took place all over the college campus, and featured giant puppets and masked creatures. That same year he organized the first Greenwich Village Halloween Parade, which he directed through 1985. For his work on the parade Lee received a 1975 Village Voice OBIE Award, a 1985 Citation from the Municipal Arts Society, and in 1993 he was inducted into the City Lore People's Hall of Fame.
Two of Lee's Mettawee productions have been honored with American Theatre Wing Design Awards:

The Popol Vuh in 1995 and Wichikapache Goes Walking in 1992. Under Lee's direction, Mettawee also received a 1991 Village Voice OBIE Award and two Citations for Excellence from UNIMA, the international puppetry organization. Additional awards to Lee include a 1996 Dance Theatre Workshop Bessie Award for "sustained achievement as a mask maker and theatre designer without equal," and a 1996 New York State Governor's Arts Award in recognition of his many contributions to the artistic and cultural life of New York State. In 2003, he received a Guggenheim Fellowship, one of the nation's most prestigious honors. In 2008 Lee served as the Jim Henson Artist-in-Residence at the University of Maryland at College Park. He is currently on the faculty of New York University. www.mettawee.org. photo by Mike Majoros

Friday/Saturday/Sunday, September 6, 7, 8 at 7:30 PM (in case of rain, performances will be held in Synod House on 110th Street & Amsterdam) Outdoor Garden of St. John the Divine, entrance at 111th Street & Amsterdam Tickets: $15; $7 for seniors and children Reservations: 212.929.4777

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