Episode 426: Monique Jenkinson

October 28, 2013 · Print This Article

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This week: This week Brian and Matt Sussman talk with Monique Jenkinson, whose work draws from dance, theater, performance art and drag. Hot topics include: staging a guerilla fashion show in a museum, the subversive power of Disney princesses and how performers are like archives. Plus, more divas than the Daytime Emmys!

Don’t forget the apexart “Unsolicited Proposal” deadline looms large, go go now!! http://www.apexart.org/unsolicited.php

We’ll miss you Lou.

Matt says “The photo should be credited to Arturo Cosenza”.




Obsolescent Performance: Tercer Cuerpo/Timbre 4 at the MCA

September 27, 2013 · Print This Article

Tercer Cuerpo,the claustrophobic experimental play by Argentinian company Timbre 4 opening at the MCA next weekend, takes place, according to director Claudio Tolcachir, in “an office that doesn’t have any more reason for being, its services have no meaning.”  While remaining in the office set, characters as obsolete as the space in which they labor appear to act in other settings, other places. Tercer Cuerpo is partly about labor and identity, particularly the disappearance of sustainable, meaningful jobs for people. What happens to these characters, and us, when we must find meaning in our lives apart from a career or calling? The always-already obsolescence of the form of theater makes the piece of interest to representing labor in contemporary performance and medium specificity in dealing with contemporary collapses of space and time. But the company Timbre 4 is also a landmark for contemporary Argentinan art practices; their home base in the working-class Boedo neighborhood of Buenos Aires has become a hotbed and model for independent, experimental theater and performance.

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Tercer Cuerpo, courtesy of the MCA 

 

This Spring MCA’s Yolanda Cesta Cursach talked with Tolcachir about the approaching Chicago debut of Timbre 4. Her interview, translated by Cursach, appears below.

YC:  In Tercer Cuerpo, it seems the playing area is some undeniable womb for five very different biographies.

CT: Tercer Cuerpo is a fragmented telling of 5 simple stories crisscrossing the solitude of these individuals immensely incapable of dealing with what life deals them.

The decadence of the playing area reflects the characters’ personal disorientation. They want something from their lives. Simple things. Things that in general can be had. But they don’t, and this situation causes them enormous shame.

What I like in live theater is getting absorbed and at the same time taken by the story to an uncomfortable place. But this still depends on an intimate place, for my discomfort being the spectator can identify with the great and the small. With what is being known in my heart. In that divide between laughing at the same time that we could cry is where we identify with others.

YC: Timbre 4 has toured widely outside Latin America. What’s the audience’s response to your plays?

CT: It’s fascinating, sometimes foreigners are even more demonstrative that Argentine people. I don’t know if that’s because they find the plays odd. When you write a play, you think of the audience of your country. Furthermore, these plays are shown with subtitles, so I don’t know whether the translations are alright or not, I just trust the translators. I remember once, in Dublin, a man asked me, “Did you get inspiration from an Irish family?” In France, for instance, people asked, “Do all Argentine mothers sleep with their sons?” European people are amazed by the fact that we Argentine artists create plays with a very low budget. They can’t believe some actors rehearse for free and, even so, the plays are still amazing.

YC:  You seem to be interested in alternative family ties.

CT: I believe that everything revolves around the family—building a family is building a society too. Hamlet can be a political play or a family drama. I’d rather make the spectator feel involved with the story between the characters than anything else.

YC: Timbre 4 is an ensemble. What is your connection after 12 years since forming ?

CT: Our theater is about investigation, and we have modest beginnings keeping us aware of our city’s social situation and the multitude of other storefront theaters’ beginnings. From staying together all these years we manage to overcome the limitations of our neighborhood and of experimental theater, so that we can get the regenerating public which we so want to reach.

YC: What’s the difference in Argentina between mainstream plays and storefront plays?

CT: I’ve performed a lot in mainstream theatre, as an actor. The production scheme is different. When you are directing a mainstream play, you ask for a couch and the next day you have it in the set. In off-theatre plays, you have to get in your car, start your engine, go to a market and buy the couch yourself. But then, the feeling between the actors is the same. I’ve never directed a play I didn’t like. I couldn’t direct a play if there was a bad working environment.

YC: Why make theater at all? What is so irrepressible about treating your writing this way?

CT: In my case it’s completely selfish. Theater makes me happy, I feel alive, excited from it, and to be honest I’m not good for anything else. Investigation, risk, collaboration, unraveling and breaking routine each time never ceases to seduce me.




Video of Tony Fitzpatrick’s “This Train”

June 26, 2010 · Print This Article

I wrote an article a few days ago on my sit down talk with Tony Fitzpatrick about his new series of work and the new show “This Train” that is appearing at The Steppenwolf theater. At the time I really wanted to have some video to go along with the post and now we do. Below is an exert from the performance which shows July 15 – August 1, 2010, enjoy.




BAS Halloween Watch: See Frankenstein Performed by The Hypocrites at the MCA

October 12, 2009 · Print This Article

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Ah, bloody ladies and their fucked-up bloody baby dolls. I’m still counting down the days to Halloween, and if I can find a babysitter of my own, I am so going to see this woman (actually, Stacy Stoltz as Elizabeth) up close and in person when The Hypocrites perform their version of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein at the MCA Chicago from October 21 – November 1. It will be enacted “in promenade,” which means that performers intermingle with audience member on the same stage. Blurbs the MCA:

Just in time for Halloween, acclaimed Artistic Director Sean Graney and The Hypocrites take on Mary Shelley’s classic novel for an adventurous retelling of Frankenstein. Graney’s world-premiere production is performed in promenade, which places the audience onstage amidst the actors, and combines his inventive and poetic adaptation with the famous 1931 film starring Boris Karloff.

Inspired by the vast scope of Shelley’s novel and the ideas of inventors like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, and J. Robert Oppenheimer, Graney draws from a variety of literary sources for his adaptation, including Macbeth, Prometheus Bound, Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe, and ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore by John Ford. Graney’s adaptation combines several historical versions of the gothic tale to craft a contemporary literary monster that captures the pure horror and chilling philosophy of creation carried out in the name of human advancement.

It’s like a high art version of Tony & Tina! But seriously, it’s always fun when audiences get a chance to wander around onstage while the performers do their thing–although I always wind up feeling weirdly embarrassed for the actors when I stand too close to them.  At any rate, you can watch a video of Hypocrities founder and Frankenstein director discussing his ideas about how theater relates to Frankenstein below; tickets are $20-25, for MCA members they’re $16-20, and the student rate is $10.




Come for the Chekhov stay for the Burlesque

August 18, 2008 · Print This Article

In today’s world of shrinking Arts support and fickle audiences one gallery mixes the fiber of Community Outreach Theater with the frosted wheat side of Burlesque performances. Put them together and you get a show that is literally a two for one.

Now the question is can even that business model work? Theatre Yawp hopes it can.