SITI Company's John Cage-Inspired Play CHESS MATCH NO. 5 Headed to Abingdon This Spring
Abingdon Theatre Company, under the artistic direction of Tony Speciale, presents the world premiere of CHESS MATCH NO. 5, conceived and directed by Anne Bogart, with text arranged by Jocelyn Clarke from the words of John Cage. Created by Siti Company, CHESS MATCH NO. 5 begins previews March 9, prior to an official press opening March 19, in Abingdon's June Havoc Theatre (312 West 36th Street).
CHESS MATCH NO. 5 is a new play based on texts from the many public conversations with American composer, writer, artist, and philosopher John Cage. SITI actors Will Bond and Ellen Lauren embody the dramatic journey of a long-term relationship over the course of a single night and a chess game. Over 90 minutes audiences will experience the wide-open mind-bending brilliance of Cage's insights about the world, about art and music, philosophy and the adventures that life presents through the conversations that he engaged in throughout his life. Dense and humorous, graceful and penetrating, this is Siti Company in an adventurous mood, landing lightly upon the profound truths to which we can all relate.
The production includes choreography by Barney O'Hanlon, scenic and costume design by James Schuette, lighting design by Brian H Scott, and sound design by Tony Award-winner Darron L West. CHESS MATCH NO. 5 was developed with support and insight from The John Cage Trust.
Siti Company, now in its 24th year, is an ensemble-based theater company whose three ongoing components are the creation of new work, the training of young theater artists, and a commitment to international collaboration. Founded in 1992 as the Saratoga International Theater Institute by Anne Bogart, Tadashi Suzuki and a group of likeminded artists, Siti Company seeks to redefine and revitalize contemporary theater in the United States through an emphasis on international cultural exchange and collaboration. Led by Co-Artistic Directors Anne Bogart, Leon Ingulsrud and Ellen Lauren, the company believes that through the practice of collaboration, a group of artists working together over time can have a significant impact upon both contemporary theater and the world at large.
SITI has traveled to 23 countries on five continents and created more than 43 new productions including such iconic works as Under Construction (2009), The Medium (1994), Death and the Ploughman (2004), bobrauschenbergamerica (2001), War of the Worlds-The Radio Play (1999), Hotel Cassiopeia (2006), and a triptych of solo pieces inspired by great artists: Bob (1998), Room (2000), and Score (2002). SITI has also engaged in collaborations with other great artists such as the Martha Graham Dance Company (American Document, 2010), the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company (A Rite, 2013), visual artist Ann Hamilton (the theater is a blank page, 2015), and Bang on a Can (Steel Hammer, 2014). Among the countless accolades SITI as a whole, as well as its members individually, have garnered are: seven OBIE awards; two Guggenheim Fellowships, Doris Duke Artist Award, USA Artists Rockefeller Fellowship; American Theatre Wing's Henry Hewes design award, Best Foreign Production at the Dublin Festival, and several Drama Desk Award nominations.
Abingdon is dedicated to developing and producing new work by emerging and established American artists. Under the artistic direction of Tony Speciale, who joined Abingdon in October 2016, the company provides a safe home where playwrights, directors and actors can collaborate within a supportive and nurturing environment. Abingdon Theatre Company searches for stories about the human experience that reflect our social, political, historical and cultural diversity. To date, the company has collaborated with more than 200 playwrights, produced 87 New York and world-premiere plays, presented more than 700 readings, staged over 175 ten-minute plays, and commissioned 6 one-act plays. Notable artists who have worked with Abingdon Theatre Company include Carl Andress, Bryan Batt, Reed Birney, Robert Brustein, Mario Cantone, Maxwell Caulfield, Dick Cavett, John Epperson, Jane Greenwood, Arthur Kopit, James Lecesne, Ralph Macchio, Roberta Maxwell, Charles L. Mee, Iddo Netanyahu, Jason O'Connell, Nancy Opel, Austin Pendleton, Sam Pinkleton, Marcia Rodd and Michael Weller. Abingdon's 2014 production of Brian Richard Mori's Hellman v. McCarthy, directed by founding artistic director Jan Buttram, was filmed and presented by WNET as part of its inaugural Theatre Close-Up series.
CHESS MATCH NO. 5 runs March 9-April 2: Tuesdays-Thursdays at 7:00PM; Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00PM, plus matinees Saturdays at 3:00PM and Sundays at 2:00PM (with the following exceptions, opening on Sunday, March 19 at 5:00PM) at Abingdon Theatre Company's June Havoc Theatre (312 West 36th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues). Tickets are $55. For tickets, visit abingdontheatre.org or call 212-352-3101.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS:
Anne Bogart (Director) is one of the three Co-Artistic Directors of the Siti Company, which she founded with Japanese director Tadashi Suzuki in 1992. Productions with SITI include the theater is a blank page, Persians, Steel Hammer, A Rite, Café Variations, Trojan Women (After Euripides), American Document, Antigone, Under Construction, Freshwater, Radio Macbeth, Hotel Cassiopeia, Intimations for Saxophone, Death and the Ploughman, A Midsummer Night's Dream, La Dispute, Score, Hay Fever, bobrauschenbergamerica, Room, War of the Worlds, Cabin Pressure, War of the Worlds-The Radio Play, Bob, Culture of Desire, Private Lives, Miss Julie, Alice's Adventures, Small Lives/Big Dreams, Going, Going, Gone, The Medium, and Orestes. Since completing her studies - Bard College (B.A.) and New York University (M.A.) - Anne has participated in the American theater as a director, playwright, essayist, teacher, and is the recipient of numerous accolades: Doris Duke Performing Artist Award (2012), Jesse L. Rosenberger Medal for Outstanding Achievement in Creative & Performing Arts, University of Chicago (2012), Honorary Degree from Skidmore College (2011), the Pat Miller Playmaker Award from Emory University (2011), Rockefeller Fellow USA Artists Foundation (2006), Distinguished Career Award - South East Theatre Conference (2006), the Elliott Norton Award for Outstanding Direction (2003), Distinguished Chancellorship Award (2002), the Edwin Booth Award (2001), the Charles Flint Kellogg Award (2001), a Guggenheim Fellowship (2000/2001), an ATHE Career Achievement Award (1999), designation by The Actors Theatre of Louisville as Modern Master (1995), two Obies (1990 & 1988), a Bessie Award (1984), a Villager Award (1980). She has served as President of the Theatre Communications Group (TCG) from 1990 to 1992. She was also briefly the Artistic Director of the Trinity Repertory Theater in Providence, Rhode Island (1989 - 1990). She is currently a Professor at Columbia University where she runs the Graduate Directing Program. She is the author of a book of essays entitled And Then You Act: Making Art in an Unpredictable World; A Director Prepares: Seven Essays on Art and Theater; Conversations with Anne; co-author with Tina Landau of The Viewpoints Book; and her most recent book What's the Story. As a director, she has staged classical, modern, contemporary and devised plays. She has also directed operas and musicals. Her repertoire of productions include plays by Pierre Marivaux, Anton Chekhov, Shakespeare, Paula Vogel, Leonard Bernstein, Georg Buchner, Frank Wedekind, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Calderon de la Barca, and Mac Wellman. In addition to Columbia University where she has been since 1991, Ms. Bogart taught at New York University, Tisch School of the Arts, Experimental Theater Wing from 1977 - 1986, at the University of California in San Diego from 1988 - 1990 (Associate Professor with a tenured chair), School for Movement Research from 1984 - 1989, and at the Playwrights Horizons Theater School from 1990 - 1992.
Jocelyn Clarke (Text Adaptation) is currently Theatre Adviser to the Arts Council of Ireland and dramaturg at American Voices New Play Institute at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. He has taught dramaturgy at the John Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts, Columbia University and Trinity College Dublin. He was the Commissioning and Literary Manager of the Abbey Theatre for four years, and lead theatre critic with The Sunday Tribune for nine years. He is an associate artist with The Civilians and Theatre Mitu in New York. He has written six previous plays for Anne Bogart and the Siti Company - Bob, Alice's Adventures Underground, Room, Score, Antigone, and Trojan Women (After Euripides).
Will Bond (Actor) is a founding member of Siti Company. He most recently performed the company's play BOB at the Venice Biennale, and last summer performed in the 40th Anniversary Toga International Arts Festival as Cornwall in Tadashi Suzuki's LEAR. He has performed internationally in SITI's Orestes, The Medium, Small Lives/Big Dreams, Culture of Desire, War of the Worlds, Cabin Pressure, bobrauschenbergamerica, Death and the Ploughman, Radio Macbeth, Who Do You Think You Are, Antigone, and Persians. He has toured in Tadashi Suzuki's Dionysus and Robert Wilson's Persephone. Recently Will toured with the SITI & Bill T Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company collaboration A RITE commissioned for the 100th anniversary of Stravinsky's Rite Of Spring. Original works include History of the World from the very Beginning with Christian Frederickson & Brian Scott, I'll Crane For You solo dance work commissioned from Deborah Hay, The Perfect Human V.1 and Option Delete with Marianne Kim. Will was awarded a prestigious 2013 EMPAC Dance MOViES Commission for the short film Lost & Found with Marianne Kim and Brian Scott premiering at RPI in January 2015. He is newly published in the 2013 Routledge Companion to Stanislavsky.
Ellen Lauren (Actor) is a Siti Company founding member and co-artistic director; 25 years. Productions include: Room, Persians, bobrauschenbergamerica, Trojan Women, blank page, Radio MacBeth, Death and the Ploughman, A Rite (with Bill T Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Co.) Associate artist with the Suzuki Company of Toga (SCOT) under the direction of Tadashi Suzuki; 35 years. Productions include: Electra, Dionysus, Oedipus, King Lear. Founding member international consortium on Suzuki Training for Actors. Representative guest faculty: TEAC Finland, RSC, Moscow Art Theatre, Banff Centre, Sfumato Theatre Bulgaria, Iceland Academy, Casa Teatro de Bogotá, Masstricht Academy, Beijing Academy, UCLA. Faculty member: The Juilliard School of Drama Lincoln Center; 18 years. Director: A Midsummer Nights Dream UCLA, Iphigenia and Other Daughters Juilliard Group 43. Company member - Alley Theater, StageWest and Milwaukee Repertory. TCG Fox Fellowship for Distinguished Achievement recipient 2008-2010. Published in American Theater, "In Search of Stillness."
Tony Speciale (Artistic Director) joined Abingdon Theatre Company in October 2105 as its Artistic Director. For Abingdon, he has directed Stet, which he conceived with playwright Kim Davies and actress Joceylyn Kuritsky, The Dork Knight, written and performed by Jason O'Connell, and The Mother of Invention, written by James Lecesne. He is also the founder of Plastic Theatre-conceiving, co-authoring and directing the world premiere of Unnatural Acts (Classic Stage Company-Drama Desk Award nominee, GLAAD Media Award nominee). NYC: The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey (Dixon Place/Westside Theatre); A Midsummer Night's Dream featuring Bebe Neuwirth, Christina Ricci and Taylor Mac (Classic Stage Company); and Handbook for an American Revolutionary (The Gym at Judson). Regional: The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey (Kirk Douglas Theatre/Bay Street Theater), Barry Manilow's Harmony (ALLIANCE THEATRE/Ahmanson Theatre) and Romeo and Juliet (Actors Theatre of Louisville). Tony served four seasons as Associate Artistic Director at Classic Stage Company, where he helped found and administered The Young Company, CSC's premiere Education and Outreach Program for public high school students. He studied musical theatre at The Boston Conservatory and holds an M.F.A. in Directing from Columbia University. He is also the proud recipient of a Princess Grace Theatre Honorarium and a Suzi Bass Award.
Barney O'Hanlon (Choreographer) has been collaborating with Anne Bogart since 1986 and joined the Siti Company in 1994. He most recently choreographed Verdi's Macbeth for the Glimmerglass Festival directed by Anne Bogart. He also choreographed Anne Washburn's 10 out of 12 at Soho Rep. directed by Les Waters, Charles Mee's The Glory of The World for the Humana Festival also directed by Les Waters, and Sarah Ruhl's The Oldest Boy for Lincoln Center Theater directed by Rebecca Taichman. International: Dublin Theatre Festival, Edinburgh International Festival, Prague Quadrennial, MC93 Bobigny (France), Bonn Biennial, Festival Iberoamericano (Bogota, Colombia), Kaleideskop Theatre (Copenhagen, Denmark). New York: BAM's Next Wave Festival, The Public Theater, New York Theatre Workshop, PS 122, Dance Theater Workshop and New York Live Arts. Opera: New York City Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Washington National Opera, and Opera Omaha. Siti Company collaborations: American Document with the Martha Graham Dance Company, A Rite with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, and the event of a thread with visual artist Ann Hamilton.
James Schuette (Costume and Scenic Designer) has designed scenery and/or costumes for over 17 Siti Company productions. His work has been seen at American Repertory Theatre, American Conservatory Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Arena Stage, BAM, Berkeley Rep, Classic Stage, Court Theatre, Goodman Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, Long Wharf Theatre, Mark Taper Forum, Manhattan Theatre Club, McCarter Theatre, NY Live Arts, New York Theatre Workshop, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Papermill Playhouse, Playwrights Horizons, The Public Theatre/NY Shakespeare Festival, Seattle Rep, Steppenwolf, Signature Theatre, Trinity Rep, Vineyard Theatre, Wexner Center, Yale Rep, Boston Lyric Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Chicago Opera Theatre, Glimmerglass Opera, Houston Grand Opera, LA Opera, Minnesota Opera, New York City Opera, Opera Theatre of St Louis, San Francisco Opera, Santa Fe Opera Seattle Opera, and internationally.
Brian H Scott (Lighting Designer) hails from New York City. Brian is a Siti Company member and has designed lighting for Café Variations, Trojan Women (After Euripides), Antigone, American Document in collaboration with the Martha Graham Dance Company, Under Construction, Who Do You Think You Are, Hotel Cassiopeia, Death and the Ploughman, bobrauschenbergamerica (Henry Hewes Design Award 2004), War of the Worlds - The Radio Play, Macbeth, and a dance collaboration with the musical groups Rachel's and systems/layers. Additionally, he has had the pleasure of assisting Mimi Jordan Sherin on Bob; Cabin Pressure; War of the Worlds; The Medium; Small Live/Big Dreams; Going, Going, Gone; Miss Julie; Private Lives; Alice's Adventures; Culture of Desire; and The Adding Machine. With Christopher Akerlind on SITI productions: Room, Score and A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Darron L West (Sound Designer) is a TONY and OBIE award winning Sound Designer whose work for dance and theater has been heard in over 600 productions all over the United States and Internationally in 14 countries. A Siti Company member since 1993 his accolades include the Drama Desk, Lortel, Audelco and Princess Grace Foundation Statue Award. He is Co-Director of Siti Company's War of Worlds - The Radio Play and Radio Macbeth.