Redcat Presents Return of ELEVATOR REPAIR SERVICE, 11/05-09
REDCAT, CalArts Downtown Center for Contemporary Arts, is pleased to present the return of the provocative and inventive New York theater ensemble Elevator Repair Service (ERS), with 5 PERFORMANCES ONLY, November 6-9, 2014, of Arguendo, a verbatim staging of the 1991 Supreme Court case Barnes v. Glen Theatre, where a group of exotic dancers used the First Amendment to challenge a ban on public nudity.
As in the troupe's celebrated Gatz, an eight-hour epic that included every word of The Great Gatsby, ERS uses the transcribed text of the Supreme Court proceedings verbatim. The 70 minute features a production design by OBIE-award winning animated text projections by video artist Ben Rubin and a re-imagined Supreme Court on rolling chairs.
Arguendo and its tricky First Amendment puzzle reveal the inner workings of the nation's highest court, while also entertaining with humor, insight and original stagecraft. Meanings are nuanced as the Justices attempt to define dance, ponder nudity from opera houses to strip-clubs, and ultimately answer if dancing naked is artistic expression or immoral conduct. Justice Anton Scalia ponders that very question, "How does one draw the line between Salome and the Kitty Kat Lounge?"
Director John Collins explains, "Since 2005, I have been a Supreme Court junkie. This all began with our difficulties in securing permission to use "The Great Gatsby" in our production of Gatz. All that trouble led me to research copyright law. I became obsessed with the Court and especially with oral argument. I found it surprisingly accessible and, often, genuinely theatrical. Somewhere in the course of downloading dozens of argument recordings, I stumbled on Barnes v. Glen Theatre. But why this case? Barnes isn't the most historic Supreme Court case. Nor does its somewhat confused and fractured result provide much precedential guidance. Nevertheless, this argument, with its absurd hypotheticals often circular logic, touches on issues that speak to us as makers of live performance. At first blush we may not have much in common with these plaintiffs -- strippers and strip clubs in Indiana; but our concerns do overlap: what's the difference between conduct and expression? Are we making art or experience? Is what we are doing speech? Does it have to have a message to be protected? These are questions we frequently ask about our own work and these are issues we hope our work investigates. And finally, the humor and the absurdity of the argument attracted us to the case. When I first listened to the recording of this oral argument, I was taken by how often the audience in court that day responded with laughter. There seemed to be plenty of theater already built in to this case."
Arguendo was created and performed by Elevator Repair Service; media software by The Office for Creative Research produced by Ariana Smart Truman; sets by David Zinn; lighting by Mark Barton; costumes by Jacob A. Climer; sound by Matt Tierney; video by Ben Rubin; production stage Manager, Maurina Lioce; movement dramaturg, Katharine Profeta.
Arguendo premiered at The Public Theater in New York September 10, 2014 andwas co-commissioned by The Public Theater, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, ArtsEmerson: The World on Stage and Wexner Center for the Arts at The Ohio State University.
Directed by John Collins.
With Maggie Hoffman, Mike Iveson, Vin Knight, Susie Sokol, Ben Williams.
Performance times are 8:30 p.m. Thursday Nov. 6-Saturday Nov. 8
with matinees Saturday Nov. 8th and Sunday Nov. 9th.
Tickets are $15-40
Elevator Repair Service is a New York City-based company that creates original works for live theater with an ongoing ensemble. Since its founding in 1991 by John Collins and a group of actors, ERS has built a body of work that has earned it a loyal following and made it one of New York's most highly-acclaimed experimental theater companies. Their work has been seen across America, Europe, Australia and Asia, and they have been the recipient of many awards including a 2012 OBIE Award for Sustained Excellence; The Foundation for Contemporary Arts Theater Grant; the Theatre Communications Group's Peter Zeisler Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement; and (for Gatz) Elliot Norton Awards for Outstanding Director and Outstanding Visiting Production and Lucille Lortel Awards for Alternative Theatrical Experience and Best Director. ERS ensemble members have received OBIEs for Sustained Excellence in Performance, Lighting Design, and Sound Design. elevator.org @erstheater #erstheate