Playwrights Horizons presents Raja Feather Kelly | the feath3r theory’s "The KILL ONE Race," June 4-13
Raja Feather Kelly | the feath3r theory
Created and Shot Inside Playwrights Horizons, This Seven-Episode Game-Play Is Part Lethal Competition Show, Part Documentary, and a Mordant Comment on Reality TV’s Grasp on Our Reality
New York, NY: Playwrights Horizons (Adam Greenfield, Artistic Director; Leslie Marcus, Managing Director) presents Raja Feather Kelly | the feath3r theory’s The KILL ONE Race, a performance-based work created and filmed at Playwrights Horizons during the pandemic. The KILL ONE Race treats the Mainstage Theater as the setting for a morbid reality competition show: over the course of seven days replete with ice-breakers, speed dates, confessionals, sacred rituals, murder plots, and copious dancing, seven contestants compete to be proven the most ethical—and earn the singular prize of death. The KILL ONE Race is part-documentary (capturing the members of the feath3r theory as they recreate a macabre game first envisioned in the 1963 dystopian novel Kill One), part theater, and part reality TV game show itself. It can be streamed at thekillonerace.com, with Episodes 1 & 2 available beginning June 4, Episodes 3 & 4 on June 7, Episode 5 on June 9, Episode 6 on June 11, and Episode 7 on June 12. All episodes will premiere at 7pm.
Raja Feather Kelly has become known Off-Broadway as the director of Young Jean Lee's We're Gonna Die (Second Stage), the choreographer of Tori Sampson's If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must Be a Muhfucka (Playwrights Horizons), and of two consecutive Pulitzer Prize-winning works: Jackie Sibblies Drury's Fairview (Soho Rep.) and Michael R. Jackson's A Strange Loop (Playwrights Horizons). With The KILL ONE Race, theater audiences will now get to experience Kelly's own acclaimed multidisciplinary vision. Kelly's works teem with pop cultural references that make the real and the artificial curl in on themselves in metatextual somersaults; in the docufiction performance Another Fucking Andy Warhol Production or Who’s Afraid of Andy Warhol, the artist and his company revealed the process of creating a post-ballet reimagining of an SNL episode that may never have existed. Inspired by revealing social experiments (both real and fictitious)—like the dizzying self-reflexivity of William Greaves’ Symbiopsychotaxiplasm, Lars von Trier’s The Idiots (and the barren-stage-as-American-microcosm in Dogville), the titular competition within Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, and the evolution of early televised game shows into the byzantine mazes of human degradation that make up today’s reality TV—The KILL ONE Race brings Kelly’s inquiries into the omnipotence of pop culture into the very onscreen forms it deconstructs.
Kelly and his company enact The KILL ONE Race within a blueprint of the media that has deeply informed American social and political life. The work, created In a charged moment of full-on social war over human rights, civil rights, and whose lives matter, contemplates the power of reality TV’s morphing history over our consciousnesses. A speculative succession of propositions unpacking contemporary American mores, this work presents a world where utopia, dystopia, and reality TV are in competition with our actual reality.
Says Kelly, “On broadcast television, 15 of the top 20 highest-rated programs among the younger adult group are reality or unscripted shows. Are we aware of the negative psychological effect, the insidious impact on our behavior, or the real estate this form occupies in our moral landscape? As we get more and more information from reality TV, we become more and more desirous of competition. People are willing to give up their families; they’re willing to give up their money; they’re willing to be embarrassed; what’s next? I believe that if we don’t start making fun of it and pointing a finger at it, the premise of these shows will soon be, ’who’s gonna be the first to die?’ “
The KILL ONE Race is conceived, production designed, and directed by Raja Feather Kelly. The creative team includes Laura Snow (Media Producer, Lead Editor), Tuce Yasak (Lighting Design), Kate Enman (Photography), You-Shin Chen (Set Design), Remy Kurs (Music), Sophie Maguire (Creative Architecture), CJ Ferroni (Director of Photography), Brandi Holt (Company Management), Colm Summers (Assistant to Director), and Iliya Vidrin and Jessi Stegall (Ethics Consultants). The cast will be announced at a later date.
The KILL ONE Race continues Playwrights Horizons’ Lighthouse Project, an eclectic series that through installations, performances, and events, aims to stretch the definition of playwriting and how a theater building can be used. As the theater begins planning to reopen its doors, this work activates the space with a bold new vision of the many forms performance can take.
Lighthouse began in January 2021 with a Public Art Series conceived and organized by artist, activist, and writer Avram Finkelstein and two-time Tony-winning set and costume designer David Zinn (Playwrights: Hir, The Flick, Circle MIrror Transformation), which has included work from Jilly Ballistic, Ken Gonzales-Day, and Dread Scott. (The latter concludes May 10, and will be followed by an installation from Jess X. Snow.) Lighthouse features collaborations with groundbreaking performance groups citywide, offering live events, digital events, print pieces, workshops and concerts: a list that will grow over time, as the theater seeks to expand the use of its building by an ever-growing range of artists. Beyond the installation series and The KILL ONE Game, the program’s initial offerings include an upcoming collaboration with podcast play company The Parsnip Ship.
About Raja Feather Kelly
Choreographer/Director Raja Feather Kelly is the artistic director of the feath3r theory, the dance-theatre-media company that he founded in 2009. He is a Creative Associate at The Juilliard School; has been awarded a Creative Capital Award (2019), a National Dance Project Production Grant (2019), a Breakout Award from the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation (2018), Dance Magazine's inaugural Harkness Promise Award (2018), and the Solange MacArthur Award for New Choreography (2016); and is a three-time Princess Grace Award winner (2017, 2018, 2019) and two-time Lucille Lortel Award nominee (2019, 2020). In 2020, Kelly was an Obie Award winner and Outer Critics Circle Award honoree for his choreography for the Pulitzer-winning musical A Strange Loop. He was born in Fort Hood, Texas and holds a B.A. in Dance and English from Connecticut College.
Kelly has been named as the 2019–2020 Randjelović/Stryker Resident Commissioned Artist at New York Live Arts and is an inaugural Jerome Hill Artist Fellow. He has also been awarded a New York Dance Performance Bessie Award, a Bessie Schonberg Fellowship at The Yard, a DanceWEB Scholarship, a New York Foundation for the Arts Choreography Fellowship, a HERE Arts Fellowship, 2018 Creator-in-Residence at Kickstarter, and a Choreography Fellowship at the Center for Ballet and the Arts at NYU. He has been granted a 2019–2021 National Dance Project Production Grant and was featured on the cover of the February 2020 issue of Dance Magazine.
Over the past decade, Kelly has created 15 acclaimed evening-length works with his company the feath3r theory—most recently, UGLY (Black Queer Zoo) at The Bushwick Starr and We May Never Dance Again® at The Invisible Dog. Kelly has performed with Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group, David Dorfman Dance, Kyle Abraham|Abraham.In.Motion, and zoe | juniper. He has also managed a number of dance companies: Race Dance, Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion, zoe | juniper, and Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group.
In 2020, Kelly made his directorial debut at New York City's Second Stage Theatre with We're Gonna Die. Since 2016, he has choreographed extensively for Off-Broadway theatre in New York City, most notably for Signature Theatre, Soho Rep., New York Theatre Workshop, and Playwrights Horizons. Kelly is the 2019 SDCF Joe A. Callaway Award finalist for outstanding choreography of A Strange Loop (Playwrights Horizons and winner of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Drama) and Fairview (Soho Rep, Berkeley Rep, TFANA and winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Drama). Frequent collaborators include: Lileana Blain-Cruz, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Sarah Benson, and Lila Neugebauer. Other theatre credits include choreography for Skittles Commercial: The Musical (Town Hall), The Chronicles of Cardigan and Khente (Soho Rep.), Everyday Afroplay (JACK), GURLS (Princeton University, Yale Repertory Theatre), Electric Lucifer (The Kitchen), Lempicka (Williamstown Theatre Festival), The House That Will Not Stand (New York Theatre Workshop), Fireflies (Atlantic Theatre Company), If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must Be a Muhfucka (Playwrights Horizons, nominated for the 2019 Lucille Lortel Award and the 2019 Chita Rivera Award for Outstanding Choreography), The Good Swimmer (BAM), and Faust (Opera Omaha).
About the feath3r theory
the feath3r theory (TF3T) is a New York City based dance-theatre-media company that produces the work of Artistic Director and Choreographer Raja Feather Kelly. As a collaboration of dancers, actors, filmmakers, musicians, photographers, and designers, TF3T explores pop-culture and current cultural phenomena, building original performances that skillfully combine, deconstruct, and reimagine elements of dance, visual media, fashion, drag, standup, minstrelsy, and narrative theatre.
The mission of the feath3r theory (TF3T) is to democratize the American theatre, to broaden the space for unheard voices and repressed histories, to bring into the theatre those sometimes left out, and to use theatre to provoke much-needed public conversations. Our company is committed to addressing pressing social issues through dance, theatre, and media with an emphasis on LGBTQ themes. We do this by challenging our audience (and our creators) to collectively interrogate - and celebrate - the shared relationship to human empathy and personal ethics as expressed in (and distorted by) popular media. By unabashedly appropriating the structures, themes, and aesthetics of popular media the work of TF3T synthesizes into virtuosic, expansive, radical and surreal large scale pop-culture phenomena or an overwhelming, over-saturated ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’ in which artists and audience alike experience their shared humanity.
Laura Snow : Media Producer, Lead Editor
Tuce Yasak : Lighting Design
Kate Enman : Photography
You-Shin Chen : Set Design
Remy Kurs : Music
Sophie Maguire: Creative Architecture
CJ Ferroni : Director of Photography
and Brandi Holt : Company Management
About Playwrights Horizons
Playwrights Horizons is dedicated to cultivating the most important American playwrights, composers, and lyricists, as well as developing and producing their bold new plays and musicals. Adam Greenfield became Artistic Director in 2020; Leslie Marcus has served as Managing Director since 1993. As it enters its 50th anniversary season, Playwrights builds upon its diverse and renowned body of work, counting 400 writers among its artistic roster. In addition to its onstage work each season, Playwrights’ singular commitment to nurturing American theater artists guides all of the institution’s multifaceted initiatives: our acclaimed New Works Lab, a robust commissioning program, an innovative curriculum at its Theater School, and more. Robert Moss founded Playwrights in 1971 and cemented the mission that continues to guide the institution today. André Bishop served as Artistic Director from 1981–1992. Don Scardino succeeded him and served until 1996. Tim Sanford, the organization’s longest-serving Artistic Director, held the position from 1996-2020. Over its 50-year history, Playwrights has been recognized with numerous awards and honors, including seven Pulitzer Prizes, 13 Tony Awards, and 47 Obie Awards.
Photo © Kate Enman for the feath3r theory
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