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Ralph Lee's new "Taliesin"

Ralph Lee's new "Taliesin"


Sunday, August 18, 2013 - 4:00pm

September 6-15 at St. John the Divine

script by Robert Bagg from a medieval Welsh tale

September 6, 7, 8 and 13, 14, 15 at 7:30 PM   (Friday/Saturday/Sunday)
Outdoor Garden of St. John the Divine, entrance on Amsterdam & 111 Street  (walk down the path into
           the outdoor garden)
Tickets: 2 for adults; for children
Reservations & Information: 212.929.4777

Performers: Sarah Bedard, David DeSantis, Patrick Horn, Una Osato, Eddie Shields, and Rob McFadyen
Script adapted from the original Welsh legend by poet Robert Bagg
Original score by Neal Kirkwood, performed by Ed Rosenberg on Saxophone, clarinet, and hammered
Masks, puppets, and set designed by Ralph Lee
Costumes by Casey Compton

"...fantastic giant figures, puppets and masks are used to tell this Welsh tale of transformation and imagination."
                                   Hudson News, July 17, 2013 (following one of the Company's upstate performances)

"(Taliesin) is performed under simple lights and with minimal scenery, but it fills the mind so much more than the excess on movie screens and in theaters endowed with hundreds of lights but not as much imagination."
                                         Ralph Hammann, Metroland.net, July 18, 2013

Ralph Lee's Mettawee River Theatre Company presents its new production of "Taliesin," drawn from a medieval Welsh legend.
Founded in 1975, Mettawee's fanciful and unique presentations, with masks, puppets and sets by renowned master Ralph Lee, have become an eagerly awaited September event in the lovely outdoor garden at St. John the Divine, entrance on Amsterdam Avenue & 111th Street (look for the peacocks that live at St. John's!).  Two weekends of performances, Friday/Saturday/Sunday, September 6, 7, 8 and 13, 14,15 at 7:30 PM.   The show is a delight for audiences ages 5 and up, and spectators are invited to sit on chairs already set up or to bring blankets to place in front of the chairs, putting them even closer to the performance area.   As always, Mettawee is keeping ticket prices affordable to all; 2 for adults and for children.

The story of Taliesin comes from a medieval Welsh tale in which the sorceress Ceridwen cooks up a potion that will bestow upon her woebegone son Morfrant the gifts of inspiration and wisdom.   By accident, however, the powerful elixir lands on the scruffy kid hired to stir the cauldron.   He is immediately enlightened and reborn as Taliesin - "radiant brow."   He subsequently uses his extraordinary gifts to challenge the stale conventions and treacherous intrigues at King Maelgwyn's court.

Taliesin is directed by Ralph Lee, who designed and created the masks, puppets and set.   The script is adapted from the original Welsh legend by poet/playwright Robert Bagg.   Musician Ed Rosenberg performs live the original music composed by longtime Mettawee collaborator Neal Kirkwood, playing saxophone, clarinet, and hammered dulcimer, a Middle Eastern instrument that traveled to Wales.   Costumes are by Casey Compton, also a longtime member of the Mettawee team.   The extraordinary company of actor/singer/puppet handlers, led by Mettawee veteran Rob McFadyen, play multiple roles.

More About the Mettawee River Theatre Company and Ralph Lee
"..a theatre that spins gold from straw," wrote Ross Wetzsteon, Obie founder, about Mettawee.    Under the Artistic Direction of Ralph Lee, the Mettawee River Theatre Company, founded in 1975, creates original theater productions that incorporate masks, giant figures, puppets and other visual elements with live music, movement and text, drawing on myths, legends and folklore of the world's many cultures for its materials.   The company is also committed to bringing theater to people who may have little or no access to live professional performances.

In his design and direction, Ralph Lee seeks to create vivid theatrical moments with economy and elegance.   Lee's work has been acknowledged with many awards, including a Fulbright Scholarship to study dance and theater in Europe, a 1985 Citation from the Municipal Arts Society, two citations for Excellence from UNIMA (the international puppetry organization), a 1996 Bessie Award (for "sustained achievement as a mask maker and theater designer without equal"), a 1996 New York State Governor's Arts Award in recognition of his many contributions to the artistic and cultural life of New York State, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.  The Vermont native organized the first Greenwich Village Halloween Parade, which he directed through 1985, receiving a 1975 Obie for that achievement.   In 2008 Lee served as the Jim Henson Artist-in-Residence at the University of Maryland at College Park.   In addition to his work with Mettawee, Lee has created masks, unusual props, puppets, and larger-than-life figures for many companies, including the New York Shakespeare Festival, Lincoln Center Repertory Theatre, the Living Theatre, the Erick Hawkins Dance Company, Shari Lewis, the Metropolitan Opera, and Saturday Night Live (that naughty Land Shark).    He is currently on the faculty of NYU.


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