Ain Gordon & Josh Quillen's RELICS AND THEIR HUMANS to be Presented at La Mama

Performances will run June 21–30.

By: May. 29, 2024
Ain Gordon & Josh Quillen's RELICS AND THEIR HUMANS to be Presented at La Mama
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Pick Up Performance Co.’s Relics and Their Humans, written and performed by Ain Gordon and Josh Quillen and directed by Gordon, will make its New York premiere June 21–30 at La MaMa ETC, The Downstairs, 66 East 4th Street (basement level).

Three-time Obie winner Gordon and Quillen of Sō Percussion build on their previous collaboration Radicals In Miniature with this work that reimagines a story from Quillen’s Ohio family: their three-year odyssey following Quillen’s father Jerry’s 2006 ALS diagnosis. 

The collaborative team includes Talvin Wilks (Dramaturg), Jennifer Tipton (Lighting Designer), Ed Fitzgerald (Production Stage Manager), Krista Smith (Associate Lighting Designer), and Alyce Dissette (Producer).

ALS Global Awareness Day ticket discount will be offered June 21 – 24.

Three “relics” undergird this work. First, in 2019, Gordon & Quillen visited Quillen’s mom, Sue, recording an interview from her perspective as caretaker during Jerry’s illness. That transcript serves as foundational text with Ain voicing Sue and Josh voicing himself. Second, Sue offered up Jerry’s journal chronicling the arc of his disease in headlines: “feel better” only to reverse the next day with “limp, tired.” Third, Jerry made a 17-track playlist. That playlist is reinterpreted by Quillen and Gordon from song elements (a 3-note key progression or a foot stomped rhythm) overlayed by text or morphing into newly composed songs utilizing phrases from Jerry’s journal (“I’ve got a little drag in my foot”). These elements are framed by Gordon’s recall of his first visit with Sue over dinner in Quillen’s childhood home - and the surprising extra person seated at that dining room table.

Ben Brantley once wrote of Gordon in The New York Times that the writer and performer “haunts the margins of history…conjur[ing] the sort of distant lives that don’t make it into textbooks, processed into oblivion by what he calls history’s ‘ruthless editing machine.’” Gordon and Quillen’s first songful collaboration, Radicals in Miniature, was a “furtive heartbreaker of a piece…an elegy for the men and women, now dead, who populated the electric, ungentrified New York that he knew in the 1970s and ’80s” (The New York Times, in a Critic’s Pick review). In their new work from Pick Up Performance Co. Quillen and Gordon similarly apply song to another work continuing their “incantatory” (StageBuddy, in a review of Radicals) reanimation of fragments of the past.


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