Horse Head Demolishes Staged Reading Conventions

Horse Head Theatre Co. (HH) is proud to continue the 9th Season with a free staged reading of ADVANCE MAN by Abe Koogler at Comedy Sportz (2201 Preston St., Houston 77003) on Monday October 8, 2018 at 8pm, directed by Rachael Logue. Featuring a cast of eleven actors; modern dancers from Frame Dance, choreographed by Lydia Hance; live original music and foley sound by Alli Villines (Horse Head's We're Gonna Die); and live lighting by J. Mitchell Cronin; Horse Head continues their 2018 experiment for what a staged reading could be.

Going above and beyond, Horse Head has secured permission to present ADVANCE MAN with selected design elements, performance conventions and most importantly, a fully-formed production vision. This isn't your average "staged reading," it's more like an invited technical rehearsal. Horse Head first experimented with this kind of event in July 2018 with EVOCATION TO VISIBLE APPEARANCE by Mark Schultz, directed by Jeff Miller, with great success. As a small, grass-roots company, Horse Head has more stories to tell than they have funding -- and so, the Horse Head staged reading was born.

In his author's note, Koogler warns readers to leave their expectations at the door: ADVANCE MAN "might just as well be called a song with movement. Or a dance piece with words. Or a symphony with narrative elements. In other words, it might be called something other than a play."

Our story takes place in Bear Creek is a small, sleepy town; but when rumors spread that the President (Greg Dean) is coming, the townsfolk spring to life. Marcy (Taylor Fono), the local paper's summer intern, is determined to break the story -- but try as she might, no one can answer to the who what when where and how of the President's arrival, and certainly not the why. But when Marcy meets Advance Man (Jovan Jackson), a mysterious suit who may or may not work for or against the President, Marcy suspects she's been asking the wrong questions. Ripe with experimental language, movement and absurdism, ADVANCE MAN is a new dark comedy exploring what it means to be a politically-engaged American.

Never before produced in Houston, Koogler is a daring up-and-coming author; his newest work, The Fulfillment Center, debuted at Manhattan Theatre Club in June 2017 following the Lincoln Center Theatre's 2015 production of Kill Floor. ADVANCE MAN was developed while Koogler was an MFA playwright student at UT-Austin in 2014 -- but like with many bold new works, it's lain dormant. HH Artistic Director Jacey Little thinks she knows why: "This is due to our current political climate. Americans are sick of politics." However, Little thinks this play is different. "Koogler has managed to write a beautiful play 'about' politics that is not topical. There are literally no topical references in the text, whatsoever. I'm not even sure how that's possible, but it's true; Abe has exposed the core what drives Americans' political sensibilities."

Horse Head is a participant in the Houston Arts Alliance CBI Resident Incubator Program and is funded in part by the Houston Arts Alliance on behalf of City of Houston.

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