Monday, May 19, 2014

The Civilians R&D Reading Series

The 2013-2014 R&D Group
The time has once again come for The Civilians’ R & D Group Reading Series. This is our first year opening all of our presentations to the public, and I am very excited to see the work our artists have been doing culminate into “something” in front of an audience. In October, I wrote on the blog that all of our pieces had common thread of art and politics. It’s very interesting to look back on that jumping off point and see the diversity of style and content that the R & Der’s explored this year. All of the presentations take place in the Great Room at 138 S. Oxford Street in Brooklyn. They’re free and open to the public, so we hope to see you there.

Performance artist Jeanine Oleson is starting the series off with a presentation of performative material she has been developing with us that ties in with her New Museum residency. Over the year we’ve heard excerpts of the text she’s been working with, seen sketches of the set, which are integral to the performance of her piece, and learned about a new instrument that Jeanine is developing specifically for the project. Director Melissa Crespo is helping her shape her piece for our presentation format. Join us for HEAR, HERE on Wednesday, May 21, at 5:30 P.M. And, catch the rest of Jeanine’s work at the New Museum in the coming weeks.

Sean Cunningham has ended up writing farce about an American businessman hiking to Machu Picchu in the company of a Peruvian businessman trying to convince him to take the alcohol pisco back with him to the States. With incisive wit, and characters hauling a piano up a mountain, Sean delves into the delicate personal and economic relationships of his characters and larger American (Southern and Northern) society. THE MACHU PICCHU PLAY, directed by Michael Leibenluft, is happening Thursday, May 22, at 7:30 PM.

Riti Sachdeva
Riti Sachdeva is writing what turns out to be our only piece derived almost entirely from interviews. Her piece expertly weaves dynamic source material from interviews with people in communities of color suffering from mental illness, family members with relatives who are dealing with mentally ill relatives, and an expert who provides a fascinating perspective on the way intergenerational instances of trauma impact the mental health of these traumatized communities. This presentation is also directed by Michael Leibenluft. We’re presenting LOVE IN A TIME OF MANIC DEPRESSION on Wednesday May 28th at 8 PM. 

In FAIRLY TRACEABLE, Mary Kathryn Nagle uses interviews, archived media, and legal transcripts as source material to create a fictional narrative about current legislation regarding climate change. The result is a fresh point of view on a familiar Civilians theme. Former R & Der and frequent Civilians collaborator Mia Rovegno returns to direct this piece, which will be presented on Thursday, May 29th at 7 PM.

Tony Torn
Finally, Juliana Francis Kelly and Tony Torn will be presenting their piece THE REENACTORS on May 30th at 2 PM. THE REENACTORS was a unique project for the R & D Group this year, in that Juliana and Tony had a full draft when they started in September (often our writers come start writing projects when their time in R & D begins, or are only in the early stages). The team has used their time in R & D to focus the narrative with the dramaturgical support of the group.

Our other R & D artists, Tommy Smith and Teddy Bergman, Robbie Sublett, and Maggie-Kate Coleman, Erato A. Kremmyda and Sam Pinkleton, also had a productive time in the group this year. Each of their projects, NFL, MARIE IN TOMORROWLAND, and EAST 4TH, respectively, used the time and dramaturgical support of the group to further their investigations and make strides on their projects, clarifying the direction they hope to take the work. The nature of the R & D process means that the development of some projects doesn’t fit into The Civilians season calendar and presentation schedule. We invite you to keep an eye on these projects in future as the artists continue their investigations.

As we come to the close of a productive and fruitful R & D season, we are also keeping our eye on next year. After coming to see the work our artists have been doing over the last 9 months, you can check out our application for next year on The Civilians website,  due June 1.

Monday, May 12, 2014

LMAY F*cking & Dying: Who We're Talking To

For our final Let Me Ascertain You of the season, F*cking & Dying, we decided to delve into two of our favorite obsessions to see what happens when death and sex fixations collide. 

For the past few months, we've been exploring our competing sex and death drives, morbid curiosities, and dirty secrets on the path to nirvana. In true Civilians' fashion, we've interviewed a huge cross-section of individuals on the subject(s), including the owner of a six-feet-under club (yep, it's exactly what it sounds like), a sex therapist, a sex addict, a terror sex enthusiast, a "rent-a-boy," and many more.  

We wanted to share some brief experts from the interviews we've conducted for our cabaret at Joe's Pub on Saturday May 17th @ 7pm. Here’s a little preview of what we have in store:

We warn them that if they have something real special, like a designer suit, and they bring it down into the coffin, and you’re like number ten down there, it will get dirty. There’s no stopping that. Yah? And we kind of advise people to use condoms, uh, and we say like yeah, we don’t stop you from doing it without a condom, but just like clean up your stuff down there, like be aware that people want to go in the coffin afterwards and if there’s a mess down there, you’re cleaning the stuff up, it’s not the gravediggers job to clean up your...jizz down there.
––Six-Feet-Under Club

Screen Still from the movie SHAME
And, part of that is this whole ritual of repression, like repressing the repulsion. Um, trying to instigate and curate desire and ultimately, for me it's meant being um... vulnerable to strangers. In a way that is like, deeply disturbing. Sometimes it feels even unhealthy. Sometimes it's kind of magical, actually. To go into these high-rises in New York and to always, the door opens and the stranger is behind the door. And then to walk over every time to the window and look at the view. Usually it's a setting sun. And, and then to take a deep breath. And then be like, "Okay, I no longer- I'm no longer me." It's not always terrible, but most of the time it is.


Monday, May 5, 2014

LMAY: F*cking and Dying - Meet The Composers!

In anticipation of Let Me Ascertain You: F*cking and Dying, we wanted to give you a sneak-peak of our impressive lineup of composers. Check them out below, and then grab your tickets to the show before we sell out. Saturday, May 17th @ Joe's Pub. Tickets available HERE

César Alvarez writes about theater, music and science here. He’s a Drama Desk-nominated composer, lyricist, performer and writer. Founding member of The Lisps. Co-founder and resident composer of LA-based dance company Contra-Tiempo.

Lady Rizo is a Grammy Award winning comedienne and chanteuse who was named the ‘Cabaret Superstar’ by New York Magazine. She has sung and recorded with Moby and Yo-Yo Ma among many others. She is Mistress of Ceremonies for current hotspot The Darby, and performs regularly at the legendary nightclub Nell’s and at Joe’s Pub since 2009. A recipient of the New York Foundation of the Arts Fellowship. Be sure to check out her website here

Maggie-Kate Coleman wrote the book and lyrics for POP! and From a Childhood, written with Erato Kremmyda. She's been all over the place: The York Theatre Company’s NEO Cabaret (with composer Daniel Maté), Joe’s Pub, Barrington Stage, Laurie Beechman Theatre...just to name a few!

Erato A. Kremmyda is a New York based composer, originally from Athens (Greece).  Theatre (selected): Agamemnon (Irondale, NYC), The Dot (Bios, Athens), We Are Theatre(Cherry Lane Theatre, NYC), Wagon Wheel (Loewe Foundation Development Award, Planet Connections, NYC), Field Trip: A Climate Cabaret (Superhero Clubhouse/ Marfa Dialogues NYC)...and many more! Take a trip over to Erato's website.

Called “electrifying” by The Huffington Post, the Brooklyn-based Grace McLean is a multi-hyphenate actress-composer-singer-writer-teacher on the rise. Following a year as a lead in Off-Broadway's critically acclaimed electro-pop opera Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, Grace has returned her focus to her acclaimed original music, both as a solo artist and with her band Grace McLean & Them Apples.

Andrea Grody was Music Director for The Civilians’ The Great Immensity at the Public Theater. Other recent projects include Fortress of Solitude at Dallas Theater Center, Venice at the Public, Love Labour's Lost at Shakespeare in the Park, White Christmas at Northern Stage, and a workshop of Carmen set in Cuba and reimagined by Moisés Kaufman and Arturo O’Farrill. Upcoming: Robin Hood at Williamstown Theater Festival. You can hear Andrea's most recent output on our podcast Sex Variants!