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Abrons Arts Center and The Chocolate Factory Present DISTANCES SMALLER THAN THIS ARE NOT CONFIRMED

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Abrons Arts Center and The Chocolate Factory Present DISTANCES SMALLER THAN THIS ARE NOT CONFIRMED

Abrons Arts Center and The Chocolate Factory Theater, proudly co-present the world premiere of Distances Smaller Than This Are Not Confirmed, a powerful new multi-disciplinary performance co-created by Tony-nominated choreographer David Neumann and New York theater artist Marcella Murray of Advanced Beginner Group, produced by Advanced Beginner Group, and associate produced by Mabou Mines. In Distances Smaller, David and Marcella create a staged conversation of intimate scale on the set of a TV talk show (more PBS than The View) where they unpack their several-years-long dialogue about race alongside astronomical questions of scale and time.

Mirroring the current societal conversation -- in all its hubris, fuckups, and wonders -- Marcella, a Black woman, and David, a white man, present a wholly original, thought-provoking performance in which they weave personal stories in amongst historical events, scientific uncertainties, live video refuting ideas of scale, and periodic mesmerizing dances. Over-simplification is resisted. Imperfection is a given. Humor is not absent.

Distances Smaller Than This Are Not Confirmed is produced by Advanced Beginner Group, and associate produced by Mabou Mines, performed by David Neumann, Marcella Murray, Julius Powell, and Hyung-Seok Jeon, has sound designed by Tei Blow, set and props by Chris Green, video by Hyung-Seok Jeon, costumes by Montana Blanco, lights by Marika Kent, original music by Stew, and is dramaturged by Melanie George.

In making this piece of devised theater-with-dance, Marcella and David Drew inspiration from many different sources including found TV interviews, the life and work of Octavia Butler, Afrofuturism, discussions with astro-physicists, personal histories, mediums channeling alien beings, and actual conversations.

But the initial impetus for Distances Smaller stems from an all-too common occurrence: the seeming inability for white people and people of color to have an evolving conversation about race. When several racially charged incidents happened over a period of time at the college where Marcella was studying for her masters and David was teaching, the community conversation, similar to the dialogue on many campuses, proved the need for this to be a practice - that, rather than being a single moment or series of moments, the interrogation of race and racism happens over time, and with practice. Marcella found herself walking into David's office and initiating a conversation about why it was so difficult to have this conversation. Discussion has continued between Marcella and David via email, texts, phonecalls and face to face dialogue to this day.

Initially, Marcella envisioned theatricalizing the conversation, perhaps to be performed at the college. David, who had been awarded the first SETI Institute residency received by a performing artist, suggested he use some of the material developed at that residency to be integrated into what was now a full-on collaborative devised theater piece, and they began thinking beyond the campus.

Distances Smaller is a conversation about having a conversation about how we can't even imagine what it would look like to be able to have a real conversation about race. How DO we break down the historical hierarchy, look at what's in the room, interrogate the assumptions, and try to let go of whatever comprises the system, bit by bit, wherever we find it in ourselves?

Distances Smaller Than This Are Not Confirmed envisions, onstage, how asking these questions is the next step in finding the way to how it can be another way.

The Distances Smaller Than This Are Not Confirmed team is:

Co-created by David Neumann & Marcella Murray

Performers: David Neumann, Marcella Murray, Hyung Seok Jeon, Julius Powell

Sound design & lead collaborator: Tei Blow

Video Design: Hyung Seok Jeon

Set & Props Design: Chris Green

Lighting Design: Marika Kent

Costume Design: Montana Blanco

Dramaturg: Melanie George

Original Music: Stew

Production Manager: Janet Clancy

Creative Producer: Boo Froebel

ABG Administrative Director: Amanda Brandes


The show will take the stage at Abrons Arts Center (466 Henry Street, NYC) on January 16th through 25th, 2020.

Tickets for Distances Smaller Than This Are Not Confirmed will be $20 for the first week; $25 for the second week. All are available for purchase at abronsartscenter.org or by calling 212.352.3101.


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