STEREOPTIK's DARK CIRCUS to Bring Puppet Theater to HERE This Spring

STEREOPTIK's DARK CIRCUS to Bring Puppet Theater to HERE This Spring

HERE presents Dark Circus, by renownEd French company STEREOPTIK, a presentation from HERE's Dream Music Puppetry Program. This innovative puppet theater work, for all ages, plays six performances May 30 - June 4 at HERE (145 Sixth Avenue, just below Spring Street).

A nose-diving trapeze artist, an animal trainer gobbled up by his lion, and a human cannonball that never returns from outer space: this is one tragic circus. Despite the catastrophes, French puppet company STEREOPTIK elevates the spectacle with a visual feast for the imagination. Through the company's brand of visual theater magic featuring live music, exquisite ink drawings, shadow puppetry, sand animation and revelatory object theater, ironic humor meets childlike wonder, and an extraordinary Dark Circus is born. Performance runs 55 minutes.

Dark Circus, based on an original story by Pef, is created by Romain Bermond and Jean-Baptiste Maillet, with artistic collaborator Frédéric Maurin and performed by Romain Bermond and Jean-Baptiste Maillet.

Founded by Jean-Baptiste Maillet and Romain Bermond, STEREOPTIK makes cinema without film, using sound and images projected onto a giant screen to create live animated features. Everything, from the music to the illustrations, is created in front of the audience using traditional methods - pen, charcoal, paint, ink, chalk, sand - with no digital effects or editing. The company's pieces play with the relationship between a work and the process of its fabrication. At once illustrators, musicians, projectionists and sound designers, the two artists also serve as lighting designers and cameramen. On either side of the screen - Jean-Baptiste on the bandstand and Romain at the drawing table - they work in perfect synchronicity to perform the stories that they develop together over the course of long periods of experimentation in the studio. Both Jean-Baptiste and Romain have backgrounds in fine art and music. They work together to craft every aspect of their pieces. The two met while playing in the rhythm section of a brass band - one on the snare, one on the bass drum - and rhythm continues to inform their work - for STEREOPTIK, tempo is key. Their first piece, Stereoptik, was created in 2009. Weaving together two storylines - two silhouettes go off to see the world, and along the way meet a cabaret singer who has been kidnapped by extra-terrestrials. The piece is mixed and mounted solely using pre-cinema techniques. To create the illusion of movement, marionettes and objects are manipulated in front of the scenery; a landscape drawn on canvas is unrolled with a hand crank. The piece Stereoptik garnered the attention of Frédéric Maurin, director of l'Hectare (theatre in Vendôme, France, and a regional centre for marionette and object theatre). His support allowed the duo to create their company in 2011. Since its first performance, Stereoptik has not stopped touring. The company's second project, Congés payés (Paid Leave) was commissioned by the festival Excentrique in France's Région Centre. The piece incorporates archival super 8 footage, filmed by amateurs, into their usual live-illustration methods. Les Costumes trop grands (The Suit is Too Big), a poetic road movie, is their most complex piece to date. The collaboration with Pef on Dark Circus opens a new chapter in the story of STEREOPTIK, marking the first time the company uses animations created off-stage. For Jean-Baptiste Maillet and Romain Bermond, each project is a chance to experiment with new tools and new techniques. Mixing arts-and-crafts simplicity with a poetic sensibility, their work elicits a childlike wonder. Inspired by the silent movies of the past, the company has sought from its inception to create theatrical experiences that are accessible to audiences of all ages, all cultures, all languages. STEREOPTIK uses the magic of the theatre to transform simple, everyday objects into a marvelous voyage of the imagination.

Dark Circus plays Tuesday, May 30 - Saturday, June 3 at 8:30pm, and Sunday, June 4 at 4:00pm. Tickets are $25.00. Tickets can be purchased at or by calling (212) 352-3101 or at the HERE Box Office (5PM until curtain on show days). For more, visit

HERE's Dream Music Puppetry Program, under the artistic direction of Basil Twist, with producing direction from HERE co-founder Barbara Busackino, is one of few programs in the country to grow and commission contemporary adult puppet works, particularly works that feature live music as a collaborative element. Dream Music seeks to secure the future of puppetry by providing increased development and performance opportunities to puppet artists, and by collaborating with artists from other disciplines to develop new puppetry techniques. In addition, Dream Music brings to New York the most excellent of international puppetry, reflecting on Twist's roots at the École Supérieure Nationale des Arts de la Marionnette in Charleville-Mezieres, France. Dream Music was inaugurated with the premiere of Basil Twist's OBIE-award winning Symphonie Fantastique in 1998 and the opening of the Dorothy B. Williams Theatre, an intimate space created specifically for intimate puppetry. HERE's Dream Music is also proud to house the Griff Williams Puppetry Collection. The 6 antique marionettes of Harry James, Griff Williams, Cab Calloway, Arturo Toscannini, Ted Lewis and Paul Whiteman were all performed with The Griff Williams Orchestra in the 1930s & 40s throughout America's big band era. They have a permanent home outside the Dorothy B. Williams Theatre at HERE.

The OBIE-winning HERE (Kristin Marting, Artistic Director and Kim Whitener, Producing Director), named a Top Ten Off-Off Broadway Theatre by Time Out New York, is a leader in the field of producing and presenting new, hybrid performance viewed as a seamless integration of artistic disciplines-theater, dance, music and opera, puppetry, media, visual and installation, spoken word and performance art. Standout productions include Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues, Basil Twist's Symphonie Fantastique and Arias with a Twist, Hazelle Goodman's On Edge, Trey Lyford & Geoff Sobelle's all wear bowlers, Young Jean Lee's Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven, Corey Dargel's Removable Parts, Taylor Mac's The Lily's Revenge, Kamala Sankaram's Miranda and Robin Frohardt's The Pigeoning, among many others. In 2008, following an extensive renovation, HERE re-opened the doors to its long-time downtown home for the arts, where it continues as a vibrant, welcoming haven for artists and audiences alike.

The HERE Artist Residency Program (HARP) has been HERE's signature development and producing program since 1998. HARP commissions, develops and premieres new hybrid performances. Productions developed at HERE challenge existing boundaries between disciplines. Through HARP, the Resident Artists are given the unique opportunity to develop their projects for up to three years through free works-in-progress showings, workshop presentations in HERE's annual CULTUREMART festival, culminating in full-scale productions.

Each season, HERE premieres several of these Resident Artist productions as mainstage works. These innovative projects are grown in a diverse artistic community where artists receive career development resources and hands-on training. HARP has been widely recognized as a unique model for artistic development for the field to emulate. In honoring HERE with the 2009 Ross Wetzsteon Award, the OBIE Committee noted, "it's become increasingly hard for artists to find a place to take risks, a safe haven where they can develop daring new work. One theater has regularly bucked the trend, making its mission to ensure that artists have a home for their research and development, and that theatregoers can sample the exciting results."

HERE is also home to the cross-disciplinary productions of Artistic Director Kristin Marting. Currently in development is Assembled Identity featuring Purva Bedi and Mariana Newhard. Exploring ethnic ambiguity, race and identity, this duet uses original and found text, live cinematography, and contemporary music to explore the science of identity, including genomics, genetics, eugenics and cloning, all of which impact our culture.

HERE proudly hosts adventurous artists, companies and productions, whether emerging or acclaimed, through its SubletSeries. It also presents work from New York, across the country, and around the globe through the Dream Music Puppetry Program (co-curated with Basil Twist), and the widely acclaimed PROTOTYPE: Opera/Theatre/Now festival of opera-theater and music-theater, co-produced with Beth Morrison Projects.

HERE's 2016-2017 Season launched with Ship of Fools, a Dream Music Puppetry Program production by Resident Artist Jessica Scott (October 12 - 22, 2016); and continued with Chiflón, El Silencio del Carbón, a Dream Music Puppetry presentation by Chile's Silencio Blanco (February 23 - 26, 2017). Most recently, HERE presented CasablancaBox, by Sara Farrington & Reid Farrington, which was nominated for a 2017 Drama Desk Award in the category of Unique Theatrical Experience. Following this presentation of Dark Circus, the season concludes with the HERE Resident Artist production The Reception, by Sean Donovan & Sebastián Calderón Bentin (June 14 - 24). The season also included the two annual highlights, PROTOTYPE: Opera/Theatre/Now (January 2017), the premier global festival of opera-theatre and music-theatre in New York City, co-produced by Beth Morrison Projects and HERE; and HERE's annual CULTUREMART Festival (March 2017).

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