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La MaMa Presents WAKE UP, YOU'RE DEAD, 10/29


What puppeteer doesn't wonder what will happen to him as he impersonates the creator? In 'Wake Up, You're Dead!,' Aaron Haskell of Brooklyn Art Department (, one of the original designers of Nightmare: NYC's Haunted House, gives us a Halloween-flavored creation myth. It's a De La Guarda-type event and spectacle that adds a late-night attraction to "La MaMa Puppet Series IV--Built to Perform." It will be presented October 29 to November 7 in the second-floor Club of La Mama E.T.C., 74A East Fourth Street.

An enveloping play is performed as a dark ceremony by a weird tribe. The atmosphere is that of a boisterous party that will have you on your feet. There are giant puppets, aerial dances and a collection of characters, like puppet skeletons, which could ordinarily fit right in with Halloween themes. However, this show is not a death myth, but a creation myth--it's about the birth of our species, not its demise. The Ancestors--Haskell's own version of the Greek Titans--are life-sized skeleton creatures that create great balls of light (the life force). Mankind is born by sliding down a Jungian sluice to the earth. There are black light effects, dancing skeletons that show the cyclical nature of life, primal movement (costumed creatures locomoting on all-fours, animal-like), and dances employing everything from technique-based modern to abstract grunge to butoh. Puppets bring puppeteers to life and vice-versa. Following this spectacle of evolution, an ultimate being is created at the end of the show. Haskell calls the show "a celebration of life and the cyclical nature of the universe."

The making of the production is documented on Brooklyn Art Department's website ( with photos including life-size body casts being made, the making of huge puppets and specialty props, and video of a giant puppet leg being tested.

As of this writing, the show is being built from the ground-up in collaboration with its performers. The piece is created, directed, written and choreographed by Aaron Haskell. Puppet design is by Aaron Haskell. The dancers/puppeteers are Aaron Haskell, Maggie Macdonald, Hattie Mae Williams, Chris Lee, Korey Phillips and Robert Anthony. Original Music is by Nicholas Edward Waldorf (Computer Composition), Julia Joseph (Vocals and Composition), Barbara Stamtelatos (Live Percussion) and Isaac Sanford (Pre-show). Costumes are by Candice Thompson. Set Design is by Paul Smithyman. Stop Motion Animation is by Aaron Haskell. Aerial choreography is by Joshua Dean. Puppet Builders are Maggie Macdonald, David Hinkle, Justin Haskell and Aaron Haskell

Aaron Haskell (Director) is one of the original designers of Nightmare: NYC's Most Horrifying Haunted House (, a sensational walk-through experience, now seven years old, which is currently onstage at NOHO Event Center and directed by his brother, Tim. Aaron founded Brooklyn Art Department with his other brother, Justin, in 2007 so he could combine his performance and visual art expertise with his growing success as an art director. From specialized props for film shoots to original masks for theater to puppetry to dance pieces; BAD is a studio where Haskell and his team of Brooklyn-based artists have the freedom to create for commercial purposes or simply for just what inspires them.

Aaron has appeared in many notable shows directed by Tim Haskell, including "Fatal Attraction: A Greek Tragedy" (Co-Starring Corey Feldman at the Classic Stage Company), "Jaded Assassin" (The Ohio Theatre), "Last Life" (debuted at the Brick Theatre for The NYC FIGHT Fest then extended to the Ohio Theatre) and the one man show, "I love Paris," which ran for a year at Blue Heron Arts Center. In 2009 at the Interart Annex, Aaron performed in and choreographed Paul Smithyman's gypsy rock opera, "Viva Patshiva."

He has danced with Javier Dzul, Christine Suarez, and Richard Rivera among others. At La MaMa, he appeared "Balletto Stiletto" by Mary Fulham and "Bokan: The Broken Hearted" by Federico Restrepo and LOCO 7 in 2005. Through LOCO 7, he was first introduced into the world of puppet making and puppeteering. In 2008, commissioned by Dixon Place, he performed his self-choreographed solo piece, "Get Up!"

In visual art, Aaron's "signature" is the construction of shadows both literal and psychological, as demonstrated through works of sculpture, torn paper, paintings and molds. His work has been shown and sold in solo shows and group shows including Brooklyn Micro Museum, Lemmon's Contemporary, HERE Arts Center, InterArt Annex and the Governor's Island Art Fair 2009.

"Wake Up, You're Dead!" is part of "La MaMa Puppet Series IV--Built to Perform," curated by Denise Greber. The series will also feature five other mainstage puppet theater events. It opens with the latest work by Italy's Dario D'Ambrosi (Pathological Theater), "Bong Bong Bong against the Walls, Ting Ting Ting in our Heads," with puppets by Aurora Buzzetti, October 14 thru October 30. There will be two works from Poland presented in association with The Polish Cultural Institute, "Chopin-An Impression" by Bialystok Puppet Theatre October 21 to November 7 and "Broken Nails. A Marlene Dietrich Dialogue" by Wiczy Theatre from November 11 to 21. Jane Catherine Shaw will perform a children's puppet theater attraction, "Folk Tales of Asia and Africa," from October 16 to November 7. The festival will conclude with "In Retrospect" by LOCO7 Dance Puppet Theatre Company, directed and designed by Colombia-born Federico Restrepo with music composed by Elizabeth Swados, November 12 to 28.

From October 21 to November 7, there will be Gallery Exhibit at La MaMa's La Galleria, 6 East First Street, displaying puppets by noted puppet theater artists including Federico Restrepo, Theodora Skipitares, Jane Catherine Shaw, Dan Hurlin, Lake Simmons, Erik Sanko, Tom Lee and more.

La MaMa will have its fall gala October 25, celebrating its 49th season by honoring Cheryl Henson of the Jim Henson Foundation. The evening will have performances by Basil Twist, Roman Paska, Federico Restrepo, Tom Lee, Erik Sanko & Jessica Grindstaff, Lake Simmons & John Dyer and appearances by Dan Hurlin, Mark Russell, Theodora Skipitares, Leslee Carrara Rudolf & Lolly. Special guests will include Caroll Spinney and Oscar the Grouch.

The series is supported by the Jim Henson Foundation, the Trust for Mutual Understanding, NYSCA and New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

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