Gas & Electric Arts Premieres BEHIND THE EYE, 10/24-11/18

BEHIND-THE-EYE-20010101

Lee Miller lived a life most only dream of, globetrotting through New York, Paris, Egypt, London and the front lines of World War II. Forever a free spirit who followed her own ambitions and insatiable curiosity, Miller left behind a top modeling career at Vogue, and became the muse to some of the 20th century's most significant artists: befriended by Picasso, idolized by Cocteau, and the single most important lover and inspiration to Man Ray. Her body-or parts of it-would become iconic of surrealism, but the story behind her enigmatic gaze and her photography is largely unknown.

Gas & Electric Arts brings Miller's mythic story into focus with the Philadelphia premiere of Behind the Eye by renowned playwright Carson Kreitzer. With distinct, highly expressive, physical staging propelled by a stirring original score, Gas & Electric Arts will transport audiences into the subconscious mind of this daring, magnetic woman, tracing the path of a whirlwind life to discover the only thing she could not be: still.

Gas & Electric Arts presents Behind the Eye by Carson Kreitzer October 24 – November 18, 2012, at the Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre, 2111 Sansom Street, in Philadelphia. Previews run Oct 24, 25 & 26, with opening night slated for Saturday, October 27 at 8pm. Tickets: $16 - $25: call 215.407.0556 or www.GasAndElectricArts.org.

Written by Carson Kreitzer and directed by Lisa Jo Epstein, Behind the Eye will feature Kittson O'Neill as Lee with an ensemble featuring Robb Hutter, Charlotte Northeast, Allen Radway & James Stover. Original music by Melissa Dunphy (notable for the Gonzales Cantata), with scenic design by Simon Harding, lighting by Shelly Rodriguez and costumes by Cloe Fox Wind.

Frame: Lee Miller (1907-1977) learned at an early age that "beauty is an enjoyable lie, or a currency, a means to get--or be gotten" as Kreitzer aptly has her character "Lee" pronounce. It was Miller's spellbinding beauty at the age of 20 that propelled her into the glamorous stratosphere of the culturati when she was discovered by Conde Nast and placed on the cover of Vogue. Thus began an astounding life of her being turned into legend-particularly her body parts such as her torso, face, lips, and eye-in painting, photography and film as one of the most beautiful women in the world, and then as a pioneering war correspondent. From art object to artist, Lee continually forged new ways to assert her unique voice and vision of the world. As her biographer Carolyn Burke writes, "For many, her beauty is at war with her accomplishment, as if the mind resists the thought of a dazzling woman who is a first-rate photographer." In Behind the Eye, Kreitzer's Lee refuses to only be the sum of her parts and the art she inspired. Instead, she asks us to bear witness to her story, her search for personal and artistic fulfillment, ever crashing into society's expectations of her.

Living her life as a Surrealist, Miller valued personal freedom and freedom of expression, surprisingly discovering her own muse in the horror of World War II. Her shocking photographs and reports of her time-- witnessing everything from top-secret napalm strikes to the liberation of Dachau-- refocus our attention not only on Miller's dark wit, talent and refined eye on the world, but also to her unflappable courage in the face of unreal atrocities, combined with a deep passion for humanity and justice.

Zoom: Playwright Carson Kreitzer-- a vital voice in truly new, bold American theatre with national acclaim-- doesn't resort to a straightforward bio-pic. Instead, she crafts a compelling and empathetic approach to telling Miller's story that is as elegant, brave, and surreal as the artist's life itself. In Cincinnati where it premiered, Behind the Eye was trumpeted as "a stunner." With humor, passion and keen insight into Lee's humanity, Kreitzer reveals how Miller has been looked at while simultaneously allowing her subject to now do the looking at her own history. Producing Artistic Director Jeremy Cohen of the Minneapolis Playwrights Center which supported Kreitzer's development of the play, calls Behind the Eye "the work of an artist at the top of her game." Taking a cue from surrealist art in which fragmentation, juxtaposition, and evocative poetry are creative staples, Kreitzer places Lee center stage in a kind of fluid afterlife where the boundaries between time and space, image and memory, emotion and reflection collide, contract and collapse.

Focus: Through their trademark theatrically daring approach to staging new plays by bold women writers, with Behind the Eye, Gas & Electric Arts remain true to their growing reputation as an adventurous, physical yet 'thinking' theatre with moxie, where theatrical flare, humor, empathy and real life relevance mesh. Turning the stage into the iris of a camera, they will zoom in and out on turning points in Miller's mythic life, like a montage of uncanny puzzle pieces that lead us directly into her psyche. In this 90 minute rush of visually engaging and emotionally arresting episodes that Lee herself snaps into view, what is real and surreal will fluidly intertwine to offer a deeply honest, funny, intimate and searing picture of a strikingly original woman, and the constellation of her famous friends and lovers.

Click: Behind the Eye originally premiered to great acclaim in 2011 at the Cincinnati Playhouse. Cincinnati's City Beat magazine stated, "Kreitzer's writing, muscular and sharp, requires close attention and the result is thoroughly rewarding… Anyone who yearns for the power of dynamic theater needs to look Behind the Eye." The Cincinnati Examiner called the play "A rapid-fire whirlwind biography of a whirlwind life." Gas & Electric Arts will be the first company to introduce Kreitzer's work to Philadelphia, and the second producer of Behind the Eye. This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts with Producing Sponsor Terry Graboyes.

Carson Kreitzer's plays include The Love Song of J. Robert Oppenheimer, SELF DEFENSE or death of some salesmen, 1:23, Flesh and the Desert, The Slow Drag (New York and London), Freakshow, Slither, Dead Wait, and Take My Breath Away, featured in BAM's 1997 Next Wave Festival. Her plays have been produced or developed by the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, The Public Theatre, The Royal Court Theatre, the Guthrie Theater, Portland Center Stage, Perishable Theatre, Clubbed Thumb, New Georges, Mabou Mines, Frank Theatre, the Actors Gang, and Next Theatre, among others. BA: Yale University. MFA: Michener Center for Writers, UT Austin. Ms. Kreitzer is a resident playwright at New Dramatists, an associated artist with Clubbed Thumb and New Georges, and a member of The Workhaus Collective, The Playwrights' Center and the Dramatists Guild. Behind the Eye premiered at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park in April 2011. Her collection SELF DEFENSE and other plays is now available from No Passport Press. For more, go to www.carsonkreitzer.com.


Related Articles

Philadelphia THEATER Stories | Shows  Like BWW Philadelphia  Follow BWW Philadelphia


From This Author BWW News Desk

Before you go...