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The Wooster Group to Present GET YOUR ASS IN THE WATER AND SWIM LIKE ME in September

Get Your Ass in the Water and Swim Like Me is based on the 1976 LP Get Your Ass in the Water and Swim Like Me: Narrative Poetry from Black Oral Tradition.

The Wooster Group to Present GET YOUR ASS IN THE WATER AND SWIM LIKE ME in September

The Wooster Group will present their newest production, Get Your Ass in the Water and Swim Like Me, an original work for theater that explores a distinctive genre of Black American storytelling called Toasts. The piece reunites the core creative team behind the Group's 2017 production The B-Side: "Negro Folklore from Texas State Prisons," A Record Album Interpretation. It features performer Eric Berryman and is directed by Kate Valk. The production design is by Elizabeth LeCompte, with sound design by Eric Sluyter and video design by Irfan Brkovic. Performances will take place September 16-October 8, 2022, at the Group's home, The Performing Garage, in New York City.

Get Your Ass in the Water and Swim Like Me is based on the 1976 LP Get Your Ass in the Water and Swim Like Me: Narrative Poetry from Black Oral Tradition, which contains a collection of Toasts recorded and edited by folklorist Bruce Jackson. Toasts are rhyming epic poems that tell fantastical and bawdy stories about legendary street heroes, such as Shine (the lone black man on the Titanic), Signifying Monkey, and Pimpin' Sam. Toasts were staples of urban life for decades, performed by and in groups of men, with each teller introducing his own verbal style and invention. The LP is one of the only archival recordings that survive of this long, rich strain of American folklore.

Get Your Ass in the Water and Swim Like Me is set in a late night radio DJ studio where Berryman, as host, performs renditions of several classic Toasts from the album, which he contextualizes with commentary. He is accompanied by musician Jharis Yokley on drums - in an approach inspired by Pansori, a genre of Korean folk storytelling performed by a vocalist and a drummer. This production builds on The Wooster Group's techniques for animating archival material, bringing the past into the present of live theater. In particular, the Group has a long practice of using record albums both as artifacts and as organizing principles for creating performances, beginning with Nayatt School (1978), Route 1 & 9 (1982), Hula (1981), L.S.D. (...Just The High Points...) (1986), and, more recently, Early Shaker Spirituals (2014), and The B-Side, based on another LP recorded by Bruce Jackson.

In addition to Berryman, Yokley, Sluyter, Brkovic, Valk, and LeCompte, the ensemble for Get Your Ass in the Water and Swim Like Me includes: Michaela Murphy (assistant director), Marika Kent (light), Andrew Maillet(video assistant), David Glista (technical director), Bona Lee (production manager), Monika Wunderer(general manager), and Maya Davis (associate producer).

ABOUT THE Wooster Group

The Wooster Group, led by founding member and director Elizabeth LeCompte, is a pioneer of experimental theater.

Established in 1975, the Group has created more than 50 theater and dance works, approximately 20 media pieces, museum and gallery exhibitions, and one Ribbon Cutting Ceremony. Theater productions include: Rumstick Road (1977), L.S.D. (... Just the High Points ...) (1984), Brace Up! (1991), The Hairy Ape (1996),House/Lights (1999), To You, the Birdie! (Phèdre) (2002), Hamlet (2006), the opera La Didone (2008), Vieux Carré (2009), The Room (2015), The Town Hall Affair (2017), A Pink Chair (In Place of a Fake Antique) (2018), and The Mother (2021), all directed by LeCompte, and Early Shaker Spirituals (2014) and The B-Side: Negro Folklore from Texas State Prisons (2017), both record album interpretations, directed by founding member and associate director Kate Valk.

Eric Berryman is a New York City-based actor originally from Baltimore, MD. He collaborated with The Wooster Group on The B-Side: "Negro Folklore from Texas State Prisons" for which he received a Drama Desk Nomination. His Off-Broadway credits include Toni Stone, Roundabout Theatre Company; Steel Hammerand The Bacchae (director Ann Bogart) and Glory of the World (director Les Waters), BAM; and pool (no water), Barrow Street Theatre. He is a company member of the Everyman Theatre in Baltimore where he has performed in Red, Topdog/Underdog, Noises Off, and A Raisin in the Sun. Other regional work includes: The Amen Corner, Guthrie Theater; I Wish You Love, Penumbra Theatre/The Kennedy Center/Hartford Stage; and Fly, Ford's Theatre. Film and TV credits include Motherless Brooklyn, Marriage Story, and Barry. Eric holds a BFA in Acting from Carnegie Mellon. He has received the Arthur Kennedy Acting Award and a Princess Grace Foundation Honorarium.

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