Since last year, when King Cowboy Rufus Rules the Universe was announced as the title for Richard Foremans 2004 production, rumors flew that he was going to at long last give us a "political" play.
The heady days of radical experimentation that gave birth to the Off-Off-Broadway scene, when the East Village was a magnet for a counter-culture that still had a sense of revolutionary verve, haunt our performance spacesa challenge to those of us too young to have been there, a bittersweet memory to those who were.
Imitation may be the most sincere form of flattery, but with the Wooster Groups latest, Poor Theater, one cant help but question its sincerity. Which is, of course, exactly the point. Legendary director Jerzy Grotowsky coined the term poor theater to describe the performative approach developed with the Polish Laboratory Theater.
Just as the first servings of this years mental stew were being offered at the Ontological-Hysteric Theatre, word spread that The Gods Are Pounding My Head! (AKA Lumberjack Messiah) might well be a last supper at the table of legendary writer-director-designer Richard Foreman.
Caryl Churchills penchant for innovation and experimentation has earned her a secure place among anyones list of most important contemporary dramatists
To say that Fulya Peker is an active theatrical artist is a gross understatement, made abundantly clear as one tries to track her down as she shifts from theater to theater, working on Richard Foremans Wake Up Mr. Sleepy! Your Unconscious Mind is Dead!, the Wooster Groups Hamlet, and her own New York directorial debut, Requiem Aeternam Deo, a meditation on Friedrich Nietzsches seminal modernist text, Thus Spoke Zarathustra (using the new Graham Parkes translation as source material).
WARNING: This review discusses details that some might feel reveal too much.
Merdre! The audience at the premiere of Alfred Jarrys Ubu roi wouldnt let the performance get beyond its scatological opening word before a riot broke loose, making December 20, 1896 (the night the play premiered at the Théâtre de lOeuvre in Paris) the birth date of the theatrical avant-garde.
Its tempting to declare a Faustian zeitgeist. With two productions from two of New Yorks most interesting experimental theater companies dealing with the infamous scholar-magician (an historical figure contemporary with Luther), one cant help but wonder if there is something about the present moment that sends us to the mirror.
Since founding La MaMa in 1961, Ellen Stewart has been far and away the most prolific (and arguably most influential) producer of experimental theater in New York and throughout the world.
With their latest work-in-progress, Poor Theater: A Series of Simulacra, The Wooster Group take on or, as they say, channel the work of two visionaries of contemporary experimental performance: director of the Polish Theatre Laboratory and author of Towards a Poor Theatre, the late Jerzy Grotowski, and choreographer William Forsythe, currently of the Ballett Frankfurt.
Dario DAmbrosi has been a fixture of the off-off Broadway scene since he first appeared at La MaMa almost twenty-five years ago.