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GRAND PANORAMA By Theodora Skipitares to Have World Premiere At La MaMa ETC

The work is tells the story of Frederick Douglass's obsession with photography and its power to 'tell the truth' about the humanity of African-Americans during slavery.

La MaMa in association with Skysaver Productions presents GRAND PANORAMA - a music-theater work by Theodora Skipitares about Frederick Douglass's obsession with photography and its power to 'tell the truth' about the humanity of African-Americans during slavery - will be given its world-premiere at La MaMa, with previews beginning February 17 prior to a press opening on February 20, it has been announced by Mia Yoo, La MaMa's artistic director.

The production runs through March 6 at the Ellen Stewart Theater (66 E. 4 St.)

Written, directed and designed by the renowned puppet artist and long-time La MaMa resident artist Theodora Skipitares, GRAND PANORAMA has an original score composed and performed live by Mazz Swift. The cast is lead by James A. Pierce III (Audelco Award Winner) as the narrator and singer, and also includes five puppeteers and two dancers.

With her trademark style of large-than-life-size puppets on stage, in GRAND PANORAMA Ms. Skipitares recreates four little-known but galvanizing speeches the legendary orator and abolitionist gave about photography during the Civil War. This new work blends 19th century art forms such as panorama, magic lantern, shadow theater and the crankie to reflect Douglass's belief, "Rightly viewed, the whole soul of man is a sort of picture gallery, a grand panorama."

As well, the production depicts epic-scale photo projects by W.E.B. DuBois, the invention of color film and the recent development of facial recognition systems. GRAND PANORAMA uses the old-fashioned technique, the crankie, to recreate the tale of the runaway slave Nick Biddell who is considered the 'first man wounded in the Civil War' when he was attacked by a mob in Baltimore.

Theodora Skipitares has been creating interdisciplinary puppet works since the late 1970's, a total of 30 productions featuring hundreds of puppet figures, live music, film, video and documentary texts. Her numerous productions with La MaMa include UNDER THE KNIFE, BODY OF CRIME, LYSISTRATA, THE CHAIRS, SIX CHARACTERS, and a trilogy that connected the Trojan War with the Iraq War. She traveled repeatedly with La MaMa founder Ellen Stewart to Vietnam, Cambodia, Serbia, Albania and South Africa from 1995-2005.

Co-set design for GRAND PANORAMA is by Donald Eastman. Puppetry direction by Jane Catherine Shaw.

GRAND PANORAMA will perform Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Adult tickets are $25 in advance; $30 day of show. Student and senior tickets are $20 in advance; $25 day of show. First 10 tickets are $10 each (advance sale only). The preview on February 17 is Pay What You Can, starting at $10. The production is suitable for ages 10+ For reservations visit

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