LaMaMa Moves! Festival: "Surveys the Prairie Of Your Room" by Dan Safer/Witness Relocation
Dan Safer/Witness Relocation
WITNESS RELOCATION / DAN SAFER
Surveys the Prairie Of Your Room
Part of 2019 LaMaMa Moves! Festival
May 18-19, 2019
Saturday at 9PM; Sunday at 5PM
Ellen Stewart Theatre | 66 East 4th Street (2nd Floor)
Running time: 45 minutes, no intermission
Dan Safer, a downtown maverick and the Artistic Director of Witness Relocation (called “a purveyor of lo-fi mayhem” by Time Out NY) returns to the stage as a lead performer in his work in Surveys the Prairie Of Your Room, a duet co-created and performed with leading WR company member Ae Andreas, featuring original music by OBIE Award-winning composer and longtime company collaborator Heather Christian. The work will be presented as part of the annual LaMaMa MOVES! Festival on Saturday and Sunday, May 18-19 at the Ellen Stewart Theatre (66 E 4th Street, 2nd floor. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased through OvationTix.
Surveys the Prairie Of Your Room, titled after a David Bowie lyric, is an exhilarating and healing meditation for the uncertain times: it’s a study of low-grade euphoria caused by the subtle stimuli, and a preponderance on the way things go, or could go, in any number of directions. The viewer is left unsure which one is right. It’s about things that happen in liminal spaces. It’s about ASMR recordings. And ultimately, is about trying to be happy when everything has gone to hell. Composed as an uninterrupted movement sequence accompanied by Heather Christian’s dreamy score and the original text by playwright Kate Scelsa (Everyone's Fine With Virginia Woolf) – delivered in the electrifying voice of Grace McLean – this highly kinetic and physically demanding piece is, paradoxically, about stillness that soothes both body and mind.
Dan Safer explains: “In the context of what I’ve been doing with Witness Relocation over the years, this new piece is as much a combination of dance and theater as my previous works – but it is also a departure in a few ways. First off, I’ve never made a full length duet before – other than a short piece from 2009, I never made a foray into this territory. I also really pushed the virtuosity (which can mean a lot of things) of the dancing and explored a lot of new ways of creating movement. Working with Ae Andreas was a big part of it: we have worked together for a few years now in different capacities, so we really know how each other move so we could really push the limits.”
Safer, who has frequently collaborated with the OBIE-winning composer Heather Christan since 2006, sees her contribution to the piece as an important structural component of the duet which marks his comeback as a lead performer in his own work. “This score is frequently orchestral and beautiful and not only unifies the show but brings in its own amazing layer of information and experience.” he says. “She created the music that is incredibly lush and cohesive. I knew going in that I wanted her stamp all over this piece – when we first spoke, I said the piece existed somewhere between Johnny Cash and David Bowie, and that is exactly where I think Heather exists.”
SURVEYS THE PRAIRIE OF YOUR ROOM
Co-created and performed by Ae Andreas, Dan Safer
Directed / Choreographed by Dan Safer
Original Music by Heather Christian
Text by Kate Scelsa
Voice over by Grace McLean
Suits provided by Ministry of Supply
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Witness Relocation – called “[one of the] ensembles who now lead the city’s progressive theater scene” by the Village Voice and “pure expressionistic danger” by Artforum – formed in 2000 and is led by Dan Safer. They make shows ranging from fully scripted plays (including world premieres by Chuck Mee and English premieres by Toshiki Okada) to original dance/theater pieces to many things in between. They are the recipients of three New York Innovative Theater Awards and have performed in the US at venues such as Abrons, La MaMa (resident company), The Bushwick Starr, NYC Summer Stage, JACK, Dixon Place, The Ohio Theater, American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA, Fuse Box Festival in Austin, TX, Bumbershoot in Seattle, WA, and more. Internationally, the company has performed in France (including Theatre de Chaillot, Paris and Les Subsistances, Lyon), Poland, Russia, Romania, Canada and Thailand. witnessrelocation.org
Dan Safer (Performer, Choreography and Direction) has directed and choreographed every WR show. He also choreographed and co-directed the acclaimed UBU SINGS UBU with Tony Torn and Julie Atlas Muz (Abrons, Slipper Room, American Rep, BB King's, Highline Ballroom) and his work as an independent choreographer has been at BAM, Dance Theater Workshop, Danspace, among others. He has been collaborating with acclaimed companies like Pig Iron, Clubbed Thumb, Hoi Polloi, and more, and appeared in films and music videos. In 2011, he choreographed Stravinsky's Rite Of Spring for Philadelphia Orchestra with Ridge Theater, and was a 2007 recipient of the Six Points Fellowship (Performance). He taught at NYU for nearly two decades and is now faculty at MIT. He got kicked out of high school for a year, used to be a go-go dancer, and once choreographed the Queen of Thailand’s Birthday Party.
Ae Andreas (Performer) is a queer dance artist, theater maker, and drag king based in Brooklyn. They are a classically trained and cross-trained dancer, a lead member of the dance-theater company Witness Relocation, a certified yoga teacher, and a consistent performer in the Brooklyn/NYC nightlife world where they appear as a “masculine” demon under the pseudonym God Complex. They also teach contact improv, choreography, and composition as a core faculty member at NYU Tisch's Playwrights Downtown studio (also their alma mater). Time Out NY has referred to Ae as a "Goth Coppelia Doll.” Friends have referred to them as “Hot and Difficult."
Heather Christian is an OBIE Award-winning composer/performer whose recent theatrical work Animal Wisdom (The Bushwick Starr) was named by many critics among the best shows of 2017. She is a founder and leader of the musical ensemble Heather Christian & The Arbornauts, with which she recorded nine albums and performed nationwide and internationally. She is a long-time collaborator in devised theater with Taylor Mac, Rachel Chavkin, Andrew Schneider, Toshi Reagon, The TEAM, Jane Comfort Company, Salty Brine, Mac Wellman, Big Dance Theater, and Witness Relocation, to name just a few. Her music was featured in short and feature films, including 2017 Lemon (Sundance and SXSW), 2013 Sundance Grand Jury Prize-winning short Gregory Go Boom and a 2016 episode of TV documentary series The New Yorker Presents. Heather taught an Atelier at Princeton, and owns and operates her own recording studio in Beacon, NY. www.heatherchristian.com
Kate Scelsa is a writer who grew up in New Jersey and now lives in Brooklyn with her wife and two black cats. Kate's debut novel Fans of the Impossible Life was a Fall 2015 Indie Next pick, a Junior Library Guild pick, a 2016 Rainbow List Top Ten Pick, received a starred review in Publishers Weekly, and has been published in ten languages. Kate is a 2016/17 New Georges Audrey resident, a Lambda Literary LGBTQ Writers in Schools author, and the recipient of a Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation grant for playwriting. Her play Everyone's Fine With Virginia Woolf had its debut production with Elevator Repair Service Theater in June, 2018 and went to the Dublin Theatre Festival in October, 2018.
Now in its 14th season, La MaMa Moves! Dance Festival, curated by Nicky Paraiso, is an annual dance festival taking place in all La MaMa venues. This unique and diverse program is devoted to presenting a full-range of contemporary dance forms and genres including post-modern, experimental, hip-hop and house forms, ethnic-fusion, burlesque, swing dance, aerial, and hula. This wide range of dance programming supports La MaMa's commitment to presenting diverse performance styles that challenge audience's perception of dance and reflects La MaMa’s longstanding mission to performance that transcends politics and unifies cultures.
Photo by Jesse Andrews. Dan Safer and Ae Andreas in SURVEYS THE PRAIRIE OF YOUR ROOM
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