Wooster Group Premieres New Work at Bard SummerScape

Zbigniew Bzymek, A PINK CHAIR rehearsal (photo Matthew Dipple)

(ANNANDALE-on-HUDSON, N.Y.) – The Wooster Group, the critically acclaimed experimental theater company, stages a world premiere of A PINK CHAIR (IN PLACE OF A FAKE ANTIQUE), an homage to the late visionary Polish artist and director Tadeusz Kantor, in the Fisher Center at Bard College as part of the Bard SummerScape Festival, from Thursday, July 13, through Sunday, July 23.

Tadeusz Kantor was one of Poland’s trailblazing visionaries: a stage director, set designer, writer, and artist responsible for revolutionary theatrical works. When productions by Kantor’s legendary company Cricot 2 traveled to New York City in the 1980s and early ’90s, they created a sensation and excited a community of auteur directors working across artistic disciplines.

Drawing inspiration from European Expressionism, Dadaism, Russian constructivism and the Bauhaus ­– as well as from American avant-garde movements such as happenings – Kantor became best-known in the West for his “Theater of Death”: a series of surrealistic works in which, in the shadow of Poland’s experience of war and totalitarianism, he sought to create what he called “a bridge between the audience and the kingdom of death.”

Tadeusz Kantor’s daughter, Dorota Krakowska, serves as A PINK CHAIR’s dramaturge. The piece is directed by company founding member Elizabeth LeCompte, whose string of honors includes the 2016 Dorothy & Lillian Gish Prize, a MacArthur Fellowship, and a National Endowment for the Arts Lifetime Achievement Award.

A PINK CHAIR will be performed by Wooster Group company members and associates including Kate Valk, Ari Fliakos, Suzzy Roche, Jim Fletcher and Zbigniew Bzymek, in ten performances between July 13 and 23 in the LUMA Theater of the Frank Gehry-designed Fisher Center on Bard’s Hudson Valley campus

Suzzy Roche (photo Andy Cohen)

As in previous seasons, SummerScape follows the theme of the Bard Music Festival, which this year explores “Fryderyk Chopin and His World.” Like Chopin, Tadeusz Kantor (1915–90) was one of Poland’s trailblazing visionaries. The stage director, set designer, creator of happenings, writer, and artist behind such revolutionary theatrical works as The Dead Class (1975) and Wielopole Wielopole (1980), Kantor was an iconic postwar artist whose influence continues to resonate.

Kantor conceived of theater as a total artwork that “embraces and comprehends all modern art and its ideas, themes, and conflicts.” Indeed, describing him as “a theater conceptualist – director, playwright, painter, scenic designer and theoretician,” the New York Times concluded,

“This creative interrelationship of artistic disciplines within a single individual may help explain the spellbinding impact of [his work]. … He is a sorcerer entreating us to enter his subconscious.”

Known for the creation and production of original multimedia works for theater, The Wooster Group is “one of the country’s foremost and most storied experimental theater groups” (Daily Beast). Under Elizabeth LeCompte’s direction, the New York-based company has worked, since 1975, as a consistent, full-time ensemble of performers and technical artists.

A PINK CHAIR (IN PLACE OF A FAKE ANTIQUE) was co-commissioned by Poland’s Adam Mickiewicz Institute as part of its international program celebrating the 100th anniversary of Kantor’s birth. The Wooster Group was chosen for this prestigious project because of the Group’s international reputation and the Institute’s appreciation of its work.

Zbigniew Bzymek, A PINK CHAIR rehearsal (photo Matthew Dipple)

In A PINK CHAIR, The Wooster Group pays homage to Kantor’s work through an exploration of ecstasy, despair, and memory: themes that recur throughout his oeuvre. Weaving together live performance, music, and video with material from Kantor’s archives, the new piece takes the form of a conversation among the company, Kantor’s ghost, and his daughter, Dorota Krakowska, who is collaborating with The Wooster Group on this piece. Through her personal commentary, documentary footage of Kantor’s productions and rehearsals – focusing on his penultimate piece I Shall Never Return (1988) – and a sound score that includes the music of Chopin, The Wooster Group has created a new work that integrates Kantor’s vision with its own.

The full ensemble for Bard’s world premiere presentation of A PINK CHAIR comprises Zbigniew Bzymek, Enver Chakartash, Matthew Dipple, Eric Dyer, Jim Fletcher, Ari Fliakos, Gareth Hobbs, Bona Lee, Erin Mullin, Suzzy Roche, Ryan Seelig, Eric Sluyter, Jennifer Tipton, Danusia Trevino, Kate Valk, Robert Wuss, and Omar Zubair.

 

Thursday, July 13 at 7:30pm

Friday, July 14 at 7:30pm

Saturday, July 15 at 7:30pm*

Sunday, July 16 at 2pm*

Wednesday, July 19 at 2pm

Thursday, July 20 at 7:30pm

Friday, July 21 at 7:30pm

Saturday, July 22 at 2pm

Saturday, July 22 at 7:30pm

Sunday, July 23 at 2pm*

 

 

 

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