St Ann's Warehouse announces 09-10 season
ST. ANN’S WAREHOUSE 2009-2010 PROGRAMMING HIGHLIGHTS include the return of Ireland’s Druid (The Walworth Farce) with Enda Walsh’s The New Electric Ballroom (American Premiere), the Kneehigh Theatre Production of Noël Coward’s Brief Encounter (New York Premiere), Stew’s Making It (World Premiere), and Young@Heart in No Theater’s End of the Road (American Premiere). Full line-up after the jump:
The Tiger Lillies, Dark and Deviant
A 20th Anniversary Concert
(October 16 & 17, 2009)
The Tiger Lillies return to St. Ann’s Warehouse with Dark and Deviant, a show that celebrates 20 years of the Lillies’ highly twisted theatrical music. For the first time in years, the Lillies will perform songs from their Olivier Award-winning show, Shockheaded Peter, along with a selection of numbers from their GRAMMY-nominated album The Gorey End and other deranged favorites spanning the group’s catalogue.
With an international reputation as one of the foremost avant-garde cabaret bands in the world, The Tiger Lillies never cease to surprise, shock and entertain with their inimitable musical style, conjuring up the macabre magic of pre-war Berlin and fusing it with the savage edge of punk.
The Tiger Lillies are beloved by critics as well as fans. In its Off-Broadway run, The New York Times called Shockheaded Peter “a gorgeous ‘nasty picture book’ of a musical…both the silliest and most sinister show in town.” The Evening Standard says of them: “It’s not surprising that their cult following is worldwide…A Tiger Lillies gig is a journey into wild emotion which passes right through melodrama and out the other side into bizarre beauty.”
The trio is fronted by singer Martyn Jacques who trained himself as an opera singer with a castrati style voice of heartbreaking beauty while living above a strip club in London’s Soho for seven years. He is accompanied by drummer Adrian Huge, whose appearance was described by David Byrne as “James Joyce on drums,” and who frequently exchanges his drumsticks for rubber chickens and toy babies; as well as by double bass/musical saw player Adrian Stout. Jacques plays accordion as he sings about the darkest side of human nature, his voice alternately soaring and growling.
The Tiger Lillies’ concerts at St. Ann’s Warehouse, which has come to be the band’s New York home, are always sold-out highlights of the season.
Druid, Enda Walsh’s The New Electric Ballroom (October 27—November 22, 2009)
St. Ann’s Warehouse will present the American Premiere of Druid’s The New Electric Ballroom. This production is a companion piece to The Walworth Farce, which made its critically lauded American premiere at St. Ann’s in April 2008.
The New Electric Ballroom and The Walworth Farce are both written by Enda Walsh, one of the freshest voices to emerge from Ireland in the last several years. A native Dubliner, who now resides in London, Walsh has recently gained notoriety in the UK as “that explosively brilliant of modern Irish stage poets” (The Scotsman). Last year, Ben Brantley of The New York Times called Walsh “a writer who deserves to be better known in this country, [who] brings his own clarifying distortions to the thriving tradition of outsize Irish narrative. As artistically self-conscious as his literary peers he uses forms of theater and oral history to satirize the Irish exaltation of them.”
Like The Walworth Farce, which will be touring America this fall, The New Electric Ballroom unleashes the power of storytelling and everyday mythologizing within the claustrophobic worlds that Walsh obsessively creates and recreates around shared calamitous moments from the long-gone past. The story unfolds in a small fishing town on the west coast of Ireland, where, night after night, Breda and Clara, two aging sisters, re-live the memories of a single night in the early 1960s when a seductive rock singer at the New Electric Ballroom broke both their fragile hearts. Breda, Clara and their much younger sister, Ada, remain trapped in the story, costumed by their tuille skirts, bolero jackets, pink high heels and lipstick until a lonely fisherman appears as Ada’s chance to escape.
From Charles Isherwood’s review in The New York Times: “The beauty and humor of Mr. Walsh’s writing flares into unforgettable life in the performances of the superlative cast…The New Electric Ballroom affirms Mr. Walsh’s growing reputation as a contender to take his place in the long, distinguished line of great Irish playwrights. This inspired fable about the inescapable truths of our being that engrave themselves on our hearts kept burrowing its way into my mind long after the shadows fell for good on Breda, Clara and Ada.”
Kneehigh Company, Noël Coward’s Brief Encounter
Directed by Emma Rice (December 2, 2009—January 3, 2010)
Noël Coward’s Brief Encounter makes its New York Premiere (after ACT in San Francisco) in this five-week run at St. Ann’s Warehouse. The show is an adaptation of the 1946 film of the same name, directed by David Lean, and based on Still Life, a Noël Coward one-act first seen a decade earlier. Kneehigh’s Artistic Director Emma Rice has returned to Coward’s original play to rediscover elements that were discarded from the legendary film script.
Switching seamlessly between live theater and remade film footage, Brief Encounter takes audiences back to a bygone age of romance and the silver screen. The story follows the brief affair between Laura (a housewife and mother) and Alec (a married doctor), who meet at a railway station café when Alec removes a piece of grit from Laura’s eye. Their attraction leads to secret meetings every Thursday, and the (melo)drama unfurls as both attempt to deal with their conflicting desire to act and their attempt to remain faithful.
The production careens around varying moods of clipped, clenched passion heaving under the middle-class restraint of the duty-bound Alec and Laura, and the wild music-hall exuberance of the slap-and-tickle highjinks of two other clandestine couples among the railway station staff. The lives and loves of the three couples are played out in the train station tearoom as a grand entertainment, using the words (some newly set to original music) and familiar songs of Noël Coward to create a breathtaking, funny and tear-inducing show with live musicians on stage, characters jumping in and out of film screens, and a couple in love floating in mid-air.
Stew’s Making It (February 17-21, 2010)
St. Ann’s Warehouse is co-commissioning and presenting Making It, a new concert presentation by Passing Strange creator, Stew.
Making It is a multi-media, rock show collage of song, text, and video which traces the unlikely careers of Stew and Heidi from the dive rock clubs of Hollywood to the footlights of Broadway — with Stew as the guide. Stew and Heidi’s latest musical journey traces their careers from under the radar into the mainstream, mass media spotlight of Broadway, accompanied by six multi-instrumentalists led by Stew, interweaving their personal narratives on what happened to them along the way of Making It.”
Young@Heart in End of the Road by No Theater (April 20—May 2, 2010)
St. Ann’s Warehouse has co-commissioned (with the Manchester International Festival) and presents the American Premiere of End of the Road, the third piece in a musical theater “road” trilogy, created in collaboration by No Theater and the legendary Young@Heart Chorus, whose members range in age from 70 to 90.
In the first production, Road to Heaven, which featured the Led Zeppelin song that inspired it and toured Europe from 1997 to 2004, the chorus burst on the scene, singing about survival and how even in old age, one can hang onto youthful energy and maintain enthusiasm for life. The next piece, Road to Nowhere, inspired by a famous Talking Heads song by David Byrne and touring abroad since 2004, took a more serious look at old age and at how, today, older people often have to continue working well into their “golden” years.
End of the Road, the third and final piece in the trilogy, is an exploration of how music and songs have a unique power to transcend age. It questions why an antique objet d’art often increases in value with age, while older people and performers are seldom treasured. The three “movements” of the work are built around songs of longing, songs of community and songs of the spirit, taking us on a journey through the 20th century, with ballads giving way to songs of sexual love and the joy and energy of friendship. The chorus sings of the soul and of memories, concluding serenely with a sense of the wisdom that can come with age.
Recently featured in the award-winning documentary Young@Heart (Fox Searchlight, April 2008), the chorus was formed in Northampton, MA in 1982 and has performed around the world, taking their stage shows on the road in Europe, Canada, and Australia. However, these productions have yet to be seen in America, particularly New York City. They have been championed by artists worldwide, including David Byrne and Liz LeCompte.
Young@Heart Chorus members typically include those with some prior professional theater or music experience, others who have performed extensively on the amateur level, and some who have never stepped onto a stage prior to turning 80. They are united in their passion for performing rock music. Young@Heart’s repertoire is like a set list of rock’s greatest hits, including songs by Coldplay, Sonic Youth and The Clash, capturing the sheer joy of singing as well as the singular poignancy of aging. Some of the songs they sing are fun, like Outkast’s mega hit, “Hey Ya.” Others are a bit sad in their hands, like The Traveling Wilberry’s “Handle Me with Care.” The elderly voices and their collective sound cause audiences to hear music and lyrics in a way they never have before.
End of the Road tackles issues of love and loss and a pervading sadness of growing old, but the performers celebrate life and watching/hearing them uplifts.. Like all of the chorus’ work, End of the Road is moving but unsentimental, honors life and death, creativity and vitality, and challenges what happens on the life continuum when old people co-opt “youth” culture.
Great Small Works, Toy Theatre Festival (May 20—30, 2010 (Dates TBC))
By popular demand, St. Ann’s welcomes back Great Small Works’ Ninth Annual Toy Theater Festival, a colossal celebration of tiny art. For ten days, the Festival transforms the vast and versatile St. Ann’s Warehouse into numerous miniature performance arenas and an extensive exhibition, The Temporary Toy Theater Museum, which juxtaposes classic examples of paper theaters with radical, contemporary interpretations of the form. In addition to new productions by Great Small Works, the festival will feature performances by a wide spectrum of international theater miniaturists. The festival also includes Toy Theater Workshops for people of all ages and two Toy Theater Symposia for the academic-minded.
The members of Great Small Works have staged the Toy Theater Festival to acclaim eight times since 1993. Originally a popular means of staging dramatic classics in miniature, Toy Theater was the rage of 19th century parlors. By the 20th century, however, advances in electronic media and mass culture led to the virtual extinction of this inexpensive family entertainment. For well over a decade now, the members of Great Small Works — John Bell, Trudi Cohen, Stephen Kaplin, Jenny Romaine, Roberto Rossi and Mark Sussman — have been rescuing Toy Theater from obscurity, introducing to modern American audiences this way of telling the grandest of tales with the simplest of means. Awarding Great Small Works an OBIE in 1997, Village Voice drama editor Ross Wetzsteon said, “Puppets…can be as powerful when they’re tiny as when they’re gargantuan… [Great Small Works has] been breathing new, pointed life into the form of Toy Theater.”
The New York Times has called the contents of the Toy Theater Festival “The tiniest blockbusters in town…a wonderful array of new, experimental and traditional toy theater productions.”
Labapalooza! Mini Festival of New Puppet Theater from the Lab (June 2—6, 2010)
Celebrating its 12th season, The Lab is St. Ann’s Warehouse’s experimental haven for artists developing interdisciplinary projects for puppet and object theater. Under the direction of Lab Directors Matthew Acheson and Tom Lee, participating artists and their collaborators meet weekly over nine months to develop projects, share puppetry elements and other stage design and technical ideas, discuss plot structure and character development, and work on narrative. Moderated critical discussion follows each group presentation.
Labapalooza! is the annual festival in which the artists present their works.
About St. Ann’s Warehouse
For the past 30 years, St. Ann’s has commissioned, produced and presented an eclectic body of innovative theater and concert presentations that meet at the intersection of theater and rock and roll. Since 2001, the organization has helped vitalize the emerging Brooklyn waterfront neighborhood, DUMBO, where St. Ann’s Warehouse at 38 Water Street has become one of New York City’s most important and compelling live performance destinations.
Through its signature multi-artist concerts and groundbreaking music/theater collaborations, St. Ann’s Warehouse has become the home for the American avant-garde and international companies of stature. Highly acclaimed landmark productions include Lou Reed’s and John Cale’s Songs for ‘Drella; Marianne Faithfull’s Seven Deadly Sins; Artistic Director Susan Feldman’s Band in Berlin; Charlie Kaufman and the Coen Brothers’ Theater of the New Ear; The Royal Court Theater’s 4:48 Psychosis; The Wooster Group’s La Didone, Hamlet, The Emperor Jones, House/Lights, Brace Up! and To You, The Birdie! (Phèdre); The Globe Theatre of London’s Measure for Measure; Antony’s Turning; Mabou Mines DollHouse; Lou Reed’s Berlin; Drama Desk Award-nominated productions of Les Freres Corbusier’s Hell House and Gate Theatre London’s Woyzeck; and the National Theater of Scotland’s Black Watch, which was recognized as “the number 1 theatrical event of 2007” on several lists, including Ben Brantley of The New York Times. Black Watch recently completed a three-month, sold-out return engagement at St. Ann’s Warehouse. Brantley called it “one of the most richly human works of art to have emerged from this long-lived war.” Over 26,000 people saw the production.
In 2004, Susan Feldman and St. Ann’s Warehouse were awarded the Ross Wetzsteon OBIE Award for the development of new work. The OBIE Award Committee honored St. Ann’s for “inviting artists to treat their cavernous DUMBO space as both an inspiring laboratory and a sleek venue where its super-informed audience charges the atmosphere with hip vitality.” New York Magazine recently proclaimed Feldman “The Saint of Experimental Theater.”