Category: 10/11 Performances (0)
In 1967, artists Robert Whitman and Robert Rauschenberg and engineers Billy Klüver and Fred Waldhauer co-founded Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.), an organization that facilitated collaborations between artists and engineers in order to bridge the gap between traditional art-making practices and the emerging technologies of the 1960s. E.A.T.’s investment in dialogue between the arts and sciences provided inspiration for much of the Peak Performances 2010–2011 season. The cross-disciplinary spirit of E.A.T. was again present on April 16 and 17, when Peak Performances and the Dia Art Foundation presented the world premiere of Passport, a new theater piece by Robert Whitman. Read more »
In the summer of 2008, jazz pianist Fred Hersch fell into a two-month-long coma, the result of a pneumonia. Hersch, who is an AIDS survivor now in his fifties, lingered in St. Vincent’s Hospital, withdrawn in a total dream state. Hersch has inspired an incredible array of young, genre-twisting jazzers, including Brad Mehldau and Ethan Iverson (of The Bad Plus). His experience lost in dreams at St. Vincent’s Hospital is the inspiration for My Coma Dreams, which premiered at Peak Performances on May 8 and 9.
My Coma Dreams is a particularly unusual performance to come out of the jazz world. For this collaborative piece, Hersch wrote the music, Herschel Garfein wrote the script, and Sarah Wickliffe created the animations; actor Michael Winther performed the songs and spoken-word sections, and Hersch and a ten-member band were led by conductor Gregg Kallor. The result is a multimedia experience composed of independent sections dedicated to the unique dreams that Hersch remembers. The plot lines of Hersch’s dreams range from a timed, jazz composition battle with Thelonius Monk while both pianists are confined in cages (humorously, of the two cages, Hersch’s is the smaller one) to a small boy with green eyes watching Hersch with understanding. The script, based on interviews conducted by Garfein, recounts these dream experiences, as well as the real-life experiences of Hersch’s partner and his doctor, and sets them to music, to lyrics, and to images.
At times poignant and at others humorously absurd, My Coma Dreams is a portrait of an artist pushed from his artistic practice into a total dream state. Though the piece at times falls too far into an awareness of the drama of the situation, it is a rare multimedia music theater piece to emerge out of jazz—one that, thankfully, exists outside of dreams and in real life.
Sara Wintz’s writing has appeared in The Poetry Project Newsletter, Jacket, HTMLGIANT, 6×6 and HARRIET: The Poetry Foundation Blog. She was communications assistant at Peak Performances from 2009 to 2010 and is a 2010 graduate of the MFA program in writing at Bard College.
On April 12, Peak Performances @ Montclair hosted Brainstorm, a symposium on the science behind creative thinking. The symposium, which included presentations by cognitive scientists, researchers, and artists, revealed some surprising connections between art and science.
“Why this symposium?” Peak Performances’ Executive Director, Jedediah Wheeler, wondered aloud at the beginning of the day’s activities. His answer, “To enliven each individual’s sense of their own intuitive capacity,” shed some light on the events that followed. Read more »
As Montclair State prepares for commencement, the Peak Performances 2010-11 season also draws to a close. Before we pause for the summer, Insite’s Student Forum takes a look back to Prometheus-Landscape II, the compelling and daring world premiere that kicked off the winter/spring semester. Katie Frazer (below), Zachary Nussbaum, Matt Robertson, and Lisa Johnson—all students in Neil Baldwin’s Theatre 208 Play Script Interpretation class—offer their analyses and impressions. These critiques are posted on Insite as part of the ongoing effort by Montclair State’s Creative Research Center to feature provocative writing by Montclair State undergraduate students.
Everyone knows the Greek myth of Prometheus, the Titan who defied Zeus by stealing fire from the gods and bringing it to the mortal humans. Prometheus’s struggle to come to terms with the eternal punishment of being chained to a rock is the subject of the play Prometheus Bound, by the Greek playwright Aeschylus. This mythological tale was reimagined in a new and exciting way by the visionary theater artist Jan Fabre and playwright Jeroen Olyslaegers in the theatrical piece Prometheus–Landscape II. In this production, the longstanding themes of the Prometheus myth were presented alongside new and interesting insights into how the myth is relevant to the modern race of humans that Prometheus went against the will of the gods to save. Read more »
Prometheus–Landscape II is certainly among the top five most bizarre plays I have ever seen, but I found it to be both fascinating and spectacular. After meeting with Jeroen Olyslaegers, I knew the show was going to be something people would be talking about, but I had no idea it would be because of the nudity and kinkiness. From his hipster-style clothes to his brilliant understanding of both the English language and mythology, Olyslaegers, with the help of director Jan Fabre, was able to create an avant-garde script based on Aeschylus’s Prometheus Bound. The script alone is enough to make a person question the two men’s intention, but after Fabre added blocking, costumes (or lack of costumes), music, and most importantly sand, one may easily question their sanity. To a non-theatergoer, the show primarily consisted of sand being thrown everywhere and naked people awkwardly prancing around the stage, but for me it was so much more than that. I loved the acting, the dancing, the music, the symbolism with the sand, and the symbolism between sex and fire. Walking out of the theater and reading several reviews, I was sad to see that I was nearly one of the only people to feel this way. Read more »