Sibyl Kempson to Launch New Company With LET US NOW PRAISE SUSAN SONTAG, 4/28-5/17

Sibyl Kempson to Launch New Company With LET US NOW PRAISE SUSAN SONTAG, 4/28-5/17

Abrons Arts Center and 7 Daughters of Eve Thtr. & Perf. Co. are pleased to present the world premiere of Sibyl Kempson's Let Us Now Praise Susan Sontag (April 28-May 17), a musical meditation on the slippery nature of the photographic image.

After a decade of operating as a solo entity and collaborating with some of New York's performance luminaries, this premiere marks the launch of Kempson's own theater company, 7 Daughters of Eve Thtr. and Perf. Co. She describes this decision as an attempt to create a space, "to explore performance narrative in a more feminine way."

Kempson, a graduate of Mac Wellman's and Erin Courtney's irreverent and innovative playwriting program at Brooklyn College, writes in a way that is both intuitive and saturated in conceptual rigor while exploring themes of the primordial and the uncanny. The production also marks the beginning of Kempson's two-year tenure as artist-in-residence at Abrons Arts Center.

Set in the South during the Dust Bowl,Let Us Now Praise Susan Sontag is a story of an extended family of sharecroppers who are visited, interviewed, and photographed by two live-in reporters from the "Big City" and also, possibly, by an ancient Mesopotamian sage. An irrational musical contemplation of the ethical pitfalls of poetic journalism, Let Us Now Praise Susan Sontag is inspired by Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by writer James Agee and photographer Walker Evans, as well as Sontag's essay 'On Photography,' the journals of Symbolist painter Odilon Redon, The NEW American Machinists' Handbook, and the ancient Assyrian mythological seals in The Morgan Library and Museum, New York - plus a couple of Broadway musicals.

Let Us Now Praise Susan Sontag features original music by Ashley Turba, choreography by David Neumann and performances by Rolls Andre, Becca Blackwell, Eleanor Hutchins, Robert Johanson, Tavish Miller, Gavin Price, Tanya Selvaratnam, Amanda Villalobos and Sarah Willis along with musicians Ellery Royston and Johnny Gasper.

Co-presented by Abrons Arts Center and 7 Daughters of Eve Thtr. & Perf. Co., performances of Let Us Now Praise Susan Sontag will take place April 28-May 17 (see above schedule) at Abrons Arts Center (466 Grand St, Manhattan). Critics are welcome as of Thursday, April 30 at 7pm for an official press opening on Sunday, May 3. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at abronsartscenter.org or by calling 212.352.3101.

The creative team also includes Eryk Aughenbaugh & Tavish Miller (Stage Management/Dramaturgy), Jody McAuliffe (Dramaturgy), Suzanne Bocanegra (Set/Costumes), Sarah Lurie (Lighting) and Meredith Boggia (Producer).

This work was developed through the support of The Jerome Foundation, Abrons Arts Center/Henry Street Settlement, New Dramatists, Duke University and Sarah Lawrence College.

About the Artists:

Sibyl Kempson's (Writer/Director) plays have been presented in NYC, Austin, Omaha, Minneapolis, Bonn, Germany, Baltimore, and Rockville. She is a 2015 Artist-in-Residence at Abrons Arts Center, where her fledgling 7 Daughters of Eve Thtr. & Perf. Co. will premiere its inaugural production Let Us Now Praise Susan Sontag in April 2015. USA Artists Rockefeller Fellowship, McKnight National Residency and Commission, Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation Commission, New Dramatists/Full Stage USA commission, and a National Presenters Network Creation Fund Award; individual funding from Jerome and Greenwall Foundations; MacDowell Colony Fellow, member of New Dramatists ('17), NYTW Usual Suspect. MFA Brooklyn College. Sibyl teaches playwriting at Sarah Lawrence College. Her plays are published by 53rd State Press, PAJ, and PLAY: A Journal of Plays.

Ashley Turba (Composer) is a BMI member hailing from Philadelphia, PA and originally from Jacksonville, FL. She met Sibyl Kempson while originating the role of Erin in Richard Maxwell's Showy Lady Slipper. She then collaborated with Kempson on a trilogy of early musicals includingSPARGEL TIME!, Industrialisation und Die Fütür, and The Wytche of Problymm Plantation. Turba is also a singer, proud AEA member and independent recording artist. Her work is supported by the Fleming foundation; as artist-in-residence at the Rosen House; and with additional resources provided by Devon Nickel. ashleyturba.com

David Neumann (Choreography) / Advanced Beginner Group's original work has been presented in New York at PS 122, New York Live Arts, The Kitchen, Central Park Summerstage (where he collaborated with John Giorno), Celebrate Brooklyn and Symphony Space (where he collaborated with Laurie Anderson) and The Whitney. ABG has also performed at the Walker Art Center, Alverno College, MASS MoCA and the American Dance Institute, among others. Neumann has been a featured dancer in the works of Big Dance Theater, Jane Comfort, Irene Hultman, Susan Marshall, Sally Silvers, Cathy Weiss and club legend, Willi Ninja. He was a member of Doug Varone and Dancers and an eight-year original member and collaborator with the Doug Elkins Dance Company, with whom he toured nationally and internationally. He continues to perform and choreograph for theater, opera and film working with such directors as: Hal Hartley, Laurie Anderson, Robert Woodruff, Lee Breuer, Peter Sellars, JoAnn Akalaitis, Sam Gold, Mark Wing-Davey, Daniel Sullivan, Les Waters and Molly Smith. Recent and upcoming projects include: 'The Total Bent' by Stew, 'The Bacchae' at the Delacorte Theater, and choreographing and performing solos and duets with Mikhail Baryshnikov. In previous years, he was a professor in the theater departments of: NYU, Barnard, and Yale. He is currently professor of theater at Sarah Lawrence College.

About the 7 Daughters of Eve Thtr. & Perf. Co. - Named for Brian Sykes' theory of mitochondrial DNA, which posits that we are all descended along matrilineal lines from seven original mothers, 7 Daughters of Eve Thtr. & Perf. Co. will unearth and contemplate, in contexts of live performance, ritual and installation, places in human history where science, religion, and feminism intersect. Its primary guiding principles are to intuitively uncover new narrative structures, to interrogate perceptions of the civilized in relation to ideas and preconceptions of the barbaric, the sacred, the profane, the true, the ordinary, and the in/animate - multiplying the possibilities of meaning, fostering imaginative practice in all participants of the performance, inviting all to exercise alternate ways of knowing, and locating the signals and patterns of a deeper order.

About Abrons Arts Center - The Abrons Arts Center is the Obie award-winning performing and visual arts program of Henry Street Settlement. The Abrons supports the creation and presentation of innovative, multi-disciplinary work; cultivates artists in all stages of their practice with educational programs, mentorships, residencies and commissions; and serves as an intersection of engagement for local, national and international audiences and arts-workers.

Each year the Abrons offers over 250 performances, 12 gallery exhibitions and 30 residencies for performing and studio artists, and 100 different classes in dance, music, theater, and visual art. The Abrons also provides New York City public schools with teaching artists, introducing more than 3,000 students to the arts.

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