GHOST CARD at Hudson River Park at 29th Street
Culture shock. Loss of a parent. Gambling addiction. A psychedelic gnome. These and other stories will come to life this August in Hassan Christopher and Megan Weaver's tribute to the mundane and epic moments that occur at tables, in a site-specific dance theater collage of crowdsourced true stories presented free to the public at Hudson River Park.
Developed over 12 months with the support of FullStop Collective's devised-theater wing FullStop.LAB, Ghost Card will premiere August 3, 4 and 6 on Allan and Ellen Wexler's public art sculpture Two Too Large Tables at Hudson River Park at 29th Street in Chelsea, Manhattan.
Conceived by director/choreographer Hassan Christopher and director/playwright Megan Weaver, Ghost Card features 28 true crowdsourced stories curated from over 100 collected over the last year. The stories were all prompted by the word "table," and in performance are revealed in chance order through an interactive card game played between a band of "hungry ghosts" and the audience. The ghosts "feed" on the stories through movement, improvisation and spoken text, inviting individual audience members to experience each story from a unique perspective within the sculpture itself. The experience is augmented by a digital deck of cards and interactive story soundscape accessible via smartphone.
Ghost Card is the first collaboration between Megan Weaver and Hassan Christopher, who have individually created original contemporary performance across the country. These include Weaver's Cause of Failure, a magic-realist play heralded as "buoyant, truthful and devastating" by the New York Theater Review and counted among NYTheater.com's Best of FringeNYC 2012, and Christopher's Move Your Meet: Strange Encounters in Public Spaces, which earned the Lester Horton Innovator Award and whose "skill, charm and appetite for creative adventure" were lauded by the LA Times.
"It is a gift for an artist to experience their work through the eyes of another," said visual artist and educator Ellen Wexler. "Megan Weaver and Hassan Christopher, translating our public sculpture Two Too Large Tables into Ghost Card is one of these gifts. Most artists prefer to create alone, but the most interesting works often come from collaborations between art forms. This interaction between Dance - fluid and fleeting - and Sculpture - solid and enduring - enriches both."
"Ghost Card uses our project Two Too Large Tables as a generator for personal stories," added her collaborator, the architect, designer and fine artist Allan Wexler. "We are reminded of past table events: the family Seder at Passover, closing the deal at a conference table, building a bird house with your grandchild at the basement workbench...The table can stir memory and activate language. It can absorb identity and reveal secrets."
"We were inspired by the duality of unity and fragmentation inherent in Two Too Large Tables," said Hassan Christopher. "It creates amazing opportunities to frame human experience and the human condition. It really is its own form of choreography." Added collaborator Megan Weaver, "The structure of Two Too Large Tables brings people together but also forces them to face different perspectives, never quite able to face one another directly. It's an incredible metaphor for the brokenness and wholeness that coexist within the ubiquitous table in everyday life."
Following its premiere at Hudson River Park, Ghost Card will receive a site-responsive adaptation at Socrates Sculpture Park on September 17. Half of its current stories will be replaced with new stories collected from Long Island City and the surrounding neighborhoods, and the performance will be restaged in open space using performer bodies as architecture. This adaptation is the first of a series of neighborhood-specific renditions of Ghost Card, to be staged throughout the boroughs of New York City.
The production will feature Alexander Bianchi, Yuki Fukui, Beth Griffith, Naomi King, Katrina Leung, Lorenzo Sariñana, and Skye Van Rensselaer. The creative team will include costume designs by enfant gate, props design by Adam Wile and sound design by Noel Nichols.