Just got back from Montclair, NJ and the Kasser Theater where we attended the American premiere of Romeo Castellucci‘s Tragedia Endogonidia which was pretty amazing. Tragedia consists of 9 episodes, each one in a different city. This episode is from London originally. It is an hour of surreal, disturbing and visually arresting performance and stagecraft.
The piece begins with a woman and girl in ornate period dress facing away from the audience. The girl falls down dead, the woman drops a knife…and then things get stranger. We didn’t take notes so we urge you instead to go see it for yourself. And see it now, because you probably won’t get a chance to see it in New York. European work of this scale (Castellucci is Italian) is often too expensive to bring to the city and Montclair, somehow, has found the resources to do it.
Montclair State University opened the Kasser Theater maybe a few months ago, I think. I was told it was opened in order to help raise the school’s cultural profile. With culture heavyweight Jed Wheeler as executive director and a beautiful, new, well-equipped 500 seat theater they’re off to an auspicious start.
Check out the Peak Performance calendar of events to see what’s going on. I’m told that they will also use the space during the summer to help produce and cultivate new work. This past season started with a Bill T. Jones premier that was developed over the course of 8 weeks in the space. (This is my memory of cocktail party conversation, not verified fact. This is a blog, after all.)
Anyway, Montclair is actually surprisingly close to NYC – about 20 minutes if you take the bus. The bus schedule, however, is a bit of a mystery and I encourage you to research it before taking off. Also, Montclair has a Saturday shuttle that is free for ticketholders, so check that out. However if at all possible avoid the NJ Transit train. It takes forever and of course Penn Station is a madhouse. Plus you have to get a shuttle bus (an old school bus!) from the train station to the theater, which is just plain silly. So take the DeCamp Co. bus from Port Authority. Or drive.