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La MaMa & Talking Band's Symphonic Play BURNISHED BY GRIEF Begins Tonight


Since its founding in 1974 by Paul Zimet and Ellen Maddow -- former members of Joseph Chaikin's seminal Open Theater -- the Talking Band has remained a cornerstone of New York City's avant-garde theater community. La MaMa in association with Talking Band will present the world premiere of its latest work, BURNISHED BY GRIEF, a sinister, music infused romantic comedy, at La MaMa's first floor theater from tonight, January 22, through February 7.

Written and composed by Ellen Maddow and directed by Zimet, BURNISHED BY GRIEF is a playfully sinister romantic comedy that investigates the symphonic beauty of cramped New York City life. The play is inspired by Ellen Maddow's work as a volunteer mediator in Brooklyn Civil Court. There she has witnessed how the city's extraordinary diversity, combined with close living, has produced complex misunderstandings, as well as, unexpected and remarkable relationships.

BURNISHED BY GRIEF is a chaotic, over stimulated urban mash up filled with constant motion, scrambled energy and the overlapping realities of race, culture and multiple generations. Five characters long for a pocket of stillness, the solace of beauty, relief from loneliness, and the possibility of falling head over heels in love with their opposites.

Performances of BURNISHED BY GRIEF -- A Romantic Comedy will take place January 22 - February 7 at La MaMa's First Floor Theater (74 E. 4th Street). Tickets, $25 ($20 Student and Senior) and will be available soon by calling 646-430-5374 or visiting

Whether through collaboration or simply via the lasting impact of their paradigmatic artistry, Talking Band -- with its commitment to radical collaboration, and to the fusion of diverse theatrical styles and perspectives -- has influenced generations of artists, both experimental and mainstream, even in art forms beyond theater. Past and present collaborators include Julie Taymor, Anne Bogart, David Greenspan, Taylor Mac, Loudon Wainwright, Lisa D'Amour, Eisa Davis, Anne Kaufmann, Ken Rus Schmoll, Julie Atlas Muz, Machine Dazzle, Peter Gordon, Blue "Gene" Tyranny and Jack Ferver.

For the world premiere of BURNISHED BY GRIEF, the creative team -- including Anna Kiraly (Set and Video Designer), Kiki Smith (Costume Designer) ,Lenore Doxsee (Lighting Designer), and Tim Schellenbaum (Sound Design) -- will transform LaMaMa's First Floor Theater into a surreal and kaleidoscopic Brooklyn where private encounters occur in public spaces, including a backyard surrounded by peering neighbors and stationery bikes in the midst of a chaotic traffic island.

About the Artists:

The Talking Band has been making innovative and influential theater works in New York for 40 years. Collectively, the founders have earned 11 OBIE awards and numerous other honors. The company has performed at nearly all of New York City's celebrated downtown venues, including La MaMa, PS 122, Theater for the New City, Dance Theater Workshop, The Ohio Theater, The Flea Theater and HERE Arts Center. Nearly 50 of its original productions have toured the United States and the world. Notable productions include The Golden Toad, Marcellus Shale, The Walk Across America For Mother Earth, Bitterroot, Radnevsky's Real Magic, Painted Snake in a Painted Chair, Black Milk Quartet and The Three Lives of Lucie Cabrol.

Paul Zimet is the Artistic Director of the Talking Band. Born and raised in New York City, he studied clarinet and voice at the High School of Music and Art, comparative literature at Columbia College, and medicine at Harvard Medical School. Music-theater works he has written and directed include The Golden Toad, (episodes 2 and 4) Marcellus Shale, New Islands Archipelago, Radnevsky's Real Magic, Imminence, Belize, The Parrot, Star Messengers, Bitterroot, Party Time, Black Milk Quartet and New Cities. He also wrote Shadow Passports and Bone Room, and episodes 2 and 8 of the Talking Band's serial mystery drama The Necklace. Zimet has directed over thirty productions for the Talking Band, and received a 2003 Village Voice OBIE award for his direction of Painted Snake in a Painted Chair by Ellen Maddow. In 2011, he directed Taylor Mac's The Walk Across America for Mother Earth, which Charles Isherwood of The New York Times named one of the year's top 10 productions. In 2010, Zimet directed The Deity, the first section of Taylor Mac's OBIE award winning epic The Lily's Revenge. He also received three OBIE awards for his work with the Open Theater and the Winter Project, both directed by Joseph Chaikin. Zimet has received the John C. Lippmann "New Frontier" Award and the Frederick Loewe Award in Musical Theater, a Playwrights' Center National McKnight Fellowship, playwriting fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts, a New Dramatists/Children's Theatre Playground commission, a Rockefeller/Creative Capital MAP Fund grant, a Fulbright Fellowship, and a 2008 NewYorkTheatre.Com People of the Year award. In addition to performing with Talking Band (most recently in The Peripherals and Panic! Euphoria! Blackout, both by Ellen Maddow), Zimet has performed with Mallory Catlett's Restless NYC, Otrabanda Company, The Stratford Festival of Canada, and the New York Shakespeare Festival. Zimet has taught for many years at colleges and universities, including Princeton, Williams, NYU, and Fordham. He is Associate Professor Emeritus in Theatre at Smith College, an alumnus of New Dramatists, and a mediator for the New York Peace Institute.

Ellen Maddow has been working in the theatre in New York as a writer, composer, and performer for the last forty years. Born in Los Angeles, California, the daughter of a screenwriter and a modern dancer, she attended Hollywood High School and received a B.A. in theatre from Antioch College in Ohio. She was a member of the Open Theatre from 1971-1973, performing in Terminal, Mutation Show, and Nightwalk. Ellen is a founding member of the Talking Band and has performed in most of its works. Works she has written for the company include The Golden Toad (episodes 1 and 3), The Peripherals(studio album available on itunes), Panic!Euphoria!Blackout, Flip Side (published in Plays and Playwrights 2010), Delicious Rivers, Painted Snake in a Painted Chair (for which she received an Obie award), The Necklace (episodes 3 and 7), Tilt, Brown Dog is Dead, Fern and Rose, and five pieces about the avant-garde housewife, Betty Suffer: Bedroom Suite, Betty and the Blenders, Betty Blends the Blues, Dopplebetty, and Betty Suffer's Theory of Relativity. In addition to writing music for a number of the works mentioned above, she wrote the scores for the Talking Band's production of Marcellus Shale, Hot Lunch Apostles,Taylor Mac's - Walk Across America for Mother Earth(published by Playscripts.), New Islands Archipelago, Radnevsky's Real Magic, Imminence (with Peter Gordon),Belize, The Parrot, Black Milk, The Plumber's Helper, New Cities, Star Messengers. She also composed the music for 1969 Terminal 1996 (directed by Joseph Chaikin), Jubileeand Home/Wire Walking for Risa Jarislow and Dancers. She wrote Persephone for Mettawee River Theatre Company. Ellen was a performer in Taylor Mac's The Lily's Revenge. She wrote music for Liz Duffy Adam's - Buccaneers commissioned and performed by the Children's Theatre of Minneapolis, and John Fleming's Superhuman Happiness commissioned and performed by Yellow Springs Kids Playhouse. Ellen is the recipient of an OBIE Award, a McKnight Playwriting Fellowship, the Frederick Loewe Award in Musical Theatre, a NYFA Playwriting Fellowship. She was a participant in the NEA/TCG Theatre Residency Program for Playwrights, and received a New York People of the Year Award. She is an alumnus of New Dramatists, and a mediator for the New York Peace Institute, working in both the Civil and Criminal Courts of Manhattan and Brooklyn.

La MaMa is a remarkable arts institution with a worldwide reputation for producing daring work in theater, dance, performance art, and music. Founded in 1961 by theater pioneer Ellen Stewart, La MaMa has produced and presented more than 3,500 theatrical productions to date and is a vital part of the fabric of cultural life in New York City and around the world.

La MaMa provides a supportive home for artists and takes risks on unknown work. Artists such as Sam Shepard, Lanford Wilson, Philip Glass, Robert Wilson, Harvey Fierstein, Blue Man Group, David and Amy Sedaris and other luminaries began their careers at La MaMa. International artists introduced to America by La MaMa include Tadeusz Kantor, Andrei Serban, Kazuo Ohno and, more recently, the acclaimed Belarus Free Theatre. La MaMa has been honored with more than 30 OBIE Awards, dozens of Drama Desk and Bessie Awards, and, in 2006, Ellen Stewart was recognized with a special TONY Award for Excellence in the Theater.

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