Mallory Catlett's DECODER: Nova Express Comes to The Chocolate Factory Theater

Performances run June 24 - July 9, 2023.

By: May. 26, 2023
Mallory Catlett's DECODER: Nova Express Comes to The Chocolate Factory Theater

The Chocolate Factory Theater presents the world premiere of DECODER: Nova Express, a new theater work by Mallory Catlett. Tickets are $20 and may be purchased in advance at

DECODER: Nova Express is the third in a trio of multi-media concerts (following Soft Machine and Ticket that Exploded) that explores the language and prophecy of William Burroughs on the merging of body, media, and machine. The concerts reimagine his 1960’s Nova Trilogy (each concert named after a novel in the series) known for Burroughs’ use of cut-up and his theory of the virus - a biological agent and idea that in the age of the internet and post pandemic is foundational to contemporary life. In this sense, DECODER acts like a time machine that confronts the physical sensation of living today, by traveling back to a point of origin, a time when the political and ideological problems we now face first became unavoidable.

The name, DECODER, comes from the 1984 German cult film inspired by Burroughs’ manifesto, “The Electronic Revolution”, that explained how to use tape recorders to cause civil unrest.  At the center of our performance is that tape recorder, the analog device Burroughs himself used, which is connected to an array of interactive digital technology to create the cut-up machine he predicted. Cassette-tape DJ and sound artist G Lucas Crane and performer Jim Findlay bring this machine to life, acting as both fictional characters and real-time systems operators, decoding the present by cutting in episodes of Burroughs’ intergalactic space odyssey. Cutting up sound and image simultaneously, they play a set list of kaleidoscopic dreamscapes, prophetic pronouncements, and surreal routines of colonial fantasies and alien eroticism that expose their complicity in the system that controls them. 

DECODER: Nova Express, the third and final concert of the series, is the long play version of all three novels. Its fully realized set, inspired by the two-manned Gemini space capsule, is a small, isolated triangle that continues onto the vertical plane on a rhomboid screen where the visual output the performers generate live is projected. The images used to reflect the intergalactic battle being waged around us, are pulled from internet trash - from viral videos to political speeches. The dizzying alignment of sound and image, language and event, creates a recalibrating affect that seeks to reveal a code in the overload. Like an inoculation against a virus, DECODER seeks to strengthen your resistance to the media oversaturation that often tricks you into accepting injustice as normal, unavoidable, inevitable and escape the prejudices of the mind that keep you from a liberated experience of time and space.

Director: Mallory Catlett. Performer and Set: Jim Findlay. Performer, Sound and Video Manipulation: G Lucas Crane. Video: Keith Skretch. Interaction Design: Ryan Holsopple. Dramaturg: Alex Wermer-Colan. Lighting: Yuki Nakase. Costume Enver Chakartash

DECODER is a Creative Capital project and has received commissioning support from Gibney Dance and Theatre Conspiracy; a research grant from Stony Brook University; and development support from a CultureHub MicroResidency, Playwrights Theatre Center, the Collapsable Hole, Mabou Mines, and a Watershed Lab residency at Mount Tremper Arts, with lead support by the National Endowment for the Arts. DECODER was also created and supported (in part) at The Watermill Center—a laboratory for the arts and humanities (2019) and with a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant and a Collective Fund grant. DECODER has received Independent Artist Commissions from NYSCA for designer Jim Findlay and sound artist G Lucas Crane and is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.  The full series (Soft Machine, Ticket That Exploded and Nova Express) is commissioned by the Chocolate Factory Theater. DECODER is co-produced by The Chocolate Factory Theater, Restless NYC and the Collapsable Giraffe. 

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