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Photo Flash: John Cage's Words Come to Life in CHESS MATCH NO. 5

Abingdon Theatre Company, under the artistic direction of Tony Speciale, presents the world premiere of CHESS MATCH NO. 5, conceived and directed by Anne Bogart, with text arranged by Jocelyn Clarke from the words of John Cage. Created by Siti Company, CHESS MATCH NO. 5 began previews March 9, with an official press opening March 19, in Abingdon's June Havoc Theatre (312 West 36th Street).

Conceived and directed by Anne Bogart, CHESS MATCH NO. 5 is a new play by Jocelyn Clarke, based on texts from the many public conversations with American composer, writer, artist, and philosopher John Cage. SITI actors Will Bond and Ellen Lauren create a unique live art performance, part chess game and part music happening, which explores the words and ideas of a visionary artist. Come experience the wide-open mind-bending brilliance of Cage's insights about the world, about art and music, philosophy and the adventures that life presents through the conversations that he engaged in throughout his life. Dense and humorous, graceful and penetrating, this is Siti Company in an adventurous mood, landing lightly upon the profound truths to which we all can relate.

The production includes choreography by Barney O'Hanlon, scenic and costume design by James Schuette, lighting design by Brian H Scott, and sound design by Tony Award-winner Darron L West. CHESS MATCH NO. 5 was developed with support and insight from The John Cage Trust.

Siti Company, now in its 24th year, is an ensemble-based theater company whose three ongoing components are the creation of new work, the training of young theater artists, and a commitment to international collaboration. Founded in 1992 as the Saratoga International Theater Institute by Anne Bogart, Tadashi Suzuki and a group of likeminded artists, Siti Company seeks to redefine and revitalize contemporary theater in the United States through an emphasis on international cultural exchange and collaboration. Led by Co-Artistic Directors Anne Bogart, Leon Ingulsrud and Ellen Lauren, the company believes that through the practice of collaboration, a group of artists working together over time can have a significant impact upon both contemporary theater and the world at large.

SITI has traveled to 23 countries on five continents and created more than 43 new productions including such iconic works as Under Construction (2009), The Medium(1994), Death and the Ploughman (2004), bobrauschenbergamerica (2001), War of the Worlds-The Radio Play (1999), Hotel Cassiopeia (2006), and a triptych of solo pieces inspired by great artists: Bob (1998), Room (2000), and Score (2002). SITI has also engaged in collaborations with other great artists such as the Martha Graham Dance Company (American Document, 2010), the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company (A Rite, 2013), visual artist Ann Hamilton (the theater is a blank page, 2015), and Bang on a Can (Steel Hammer, 2014). Among the countless accolades SITI as a whole, as well as its members individually, have garnered are: seven OBIE awards; two Guggenheim Fellowships, Doris Duke Artist Award, USA Artists Rockefeller Fellowship; American Theatre Wing's Henry Hewes design award, Best Foreign Production at the Dublin Festival, and several Drama Desk Award nominations.

Abingdon is dedicated to developing and producing new work by emerging and established American artists. Under the artistic direction of Tony Speciale, who joined Abingdon in October 2016, the company provides a safe home where playwrights, directors and actors can collaborate within a supportive and nurturing environment. Abingdon Theatre Company searches for stories about the human experience that reflect our social, political, historical and cultural diversity. To date, the company has collaborated with more than 200 playwrights, produced 88 New York and world-premiere plays, presented more than 700 readings, staged over 175 ten-minute plays, and commissioned 6 one-act plays. Notable artists who have worked with Abingdon Theatre Company include Carl Andress, Bryan Batt, Reed Birney, Robert Brustein, Mario Cantone, Maxwell Caulfield, Dick Cavett, John Epperson, Jane Greenwood, Arthur Kopit, James Lecesne, Ralph Macchio, Roberta Maxwell, Charles L. Mee, Iddo Netanyahu, Jason O'Connell, Nancy Opel, Austin Pendleton, Sam Pinkleton, Marcia Rodd and Michael Weller. Abingdon's 2014 production of Brian Richard Mori's Hellman v. McCarthy, directed by founding artistic director Jan Buttram, was filmed and presented by WNET as part of its inaugural Theatre Close-Up series. abingdontheatre.org

CHESS MATCH NO. 5 runs through April 2: Tuesdays-Thursdays at 7:00PM; Fridays and Saturdays at8:00PM, plus matinees Saturdays at 3:00PM and Sundays at 2:00PM (with the following exceptions, opening on Sunday, March 19 at 5:00PM) at Abingdon Theatre Company's June Havoc Theatre (312 West 36th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues). Tickets are $55. For tickets, visit abingdontheatre.org or call 212-352-3101.

Photo Credit: Maria Baranova


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