THE WOOSTER GROUP
EARLY SHAKER SPIRITUALS – A RECORD ALBUM INTERPRETATION
CYNTHIA HEDSTROM, ELIZABETH LECOMPTE,
FRANCES MCDORMAND, and SUZZY ROCHE
MATTHEW BROWN, MODESTO JIMENEZ, BOBBY MCELVER,
BEBE MILLER, and ANDREW SCHNEIDER
DIRECTED BY KATE VALK
JANUARY 21 to FEBRUARY 1, 2015
Frances McDormand, center, in Early Shaker Spirituals. Photo by Paula Court.
(Los Angeles, CA) REDCAT, Calarts Downtown Center for Contemporary Arts, presents the newest Wooster Group work, Early Shaker Spirituals: A Record Album Interpretation January 21 to February 1, 2015. Tickets are available at www.redcat.org or by calling 213-237-2800.
Early Shaker Spirituals is a performance based on a 1976 LP of Shaker hymns, marches, anthems, and testimony recorded by Sister R. Mildred Barker and the sisters of the Shaker community in Sabbathday Lake, Maine. It features live performances of all twenty tracks from side A of the album sung by Cynthia Hedstrom, Elizabeth LeCompte, Frances McDormand, and Suzzy Roche. The performers channel the voices of the Shaker singers to give a new live rendering of the songs.
Complementing the songs are dances created by the Group, composed of simple patterns inspired by the surviving fragments of the ecstatic dance that characterized the Shakers worship services. For the dances, the singers are joined by Matthew Brown, Modesto Jimenez, Bobby McElver, Bebe Miller and Andrew Schneider. Jamie Poskin reads from the album liner notes.
Early Shaker Spirituals returns to an artistic practice that the Group has used throughout its history: working with record albums as source material for original productions, among them Hula (1981) and L.S.D. ( Just the High Points ) (1984). The piece also expresses the Groups long-standing interest in the Shakers, a millenarian, celibate, communitarian sect. In 1980, Elizabeth LeCompte, Kate Valk, and other members of the company visited the Sabbathday Lake Shaker community and met with Sister R. Mildred Barker. Around that time, the company first began listening to the record album that forms the basis for this new piece.
In addition to the performers, the full Early Shakers Spirituals ensemble includes Max Bernstein (sound), Enver Chakartash (costumes), Eric Dyer (tour technical director), Elizabeth LeCompte & Jim Clayburgh (set), Bobby McElver (sound), Erin Mullin (stage manager), Jamie Poskin (assistant director), Emily Rea (production manager), Ryan Seelig (assistant lighting), Jennifer Tipton (lighting) and Kate Valk (director).
The Wooster Group
Founded in 1975, The Wooster Group has made more than 30 works for theater, dance, film, and video under the direction of Elizabeth LeCompte. These works include Rumstick Road (1977), L.S.D. ( Just the High Points ) (1984), Frank Dells The Temptation of St. Antony (1988), Brace Up! (1991), The Emperor Jones (1993), House/Lights (1999), To You, The Birdie! (Phèdre) (2002), Hamlet (2007), There is Still Time . . Brother (2007), La Didone (2009), Vieux Carré (2011), and Cry, Trojans! (Troilus & Cressida) (2014). The founding and original members of the Group are Elizabeth LeCompte, Spalding Gray, Ron Vawter, Jim Clayburgh, Willem Dafoe, Kate Valk and Peyton Smith. The Performing Garage at 33 Wooster Street in lower Manhattan is the companys permanent home, which they own and operate as part of the Grand Street Artists Co-op, a 1960s project of the Fluxus art movement. The company regularly tours worldwide, including North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.
Highlights from Ben Brantleys New York Times review:
The gift of being simple has never been widely associated with the Wooster Group, whose austere and profoundly affecting Early Shaker Spirituals opened on Thursday night at the Performing Garage in SoHo. Throughout its almost 40, unceasingly fertile years of existence, this genre-bending troupe has taken theatergoers through twisting labyrinths of productions, in which reality and its representations are splintered by technology and irony.
Early Shaker Spirituals testifies joyously to the discipline, dedication and conviction that have allowed one band of artists to endure and flourish on its own uncompromising terms. The show lasts only an hour, yet it seems to span not just decades but centuries of creative evolution and ancestry.
Simple Gifts, [is] the best known of Shaker hymns. . . .I promise youll hear new things in its lyrics, though. Yes, it tells us, tis a gift to be simple. But it also says that to turn, turn will be our delight,/Till by turning, turning, we come round right.
Thats a pretty good description, I think, of what happens in transcendent theatrical performance as well as in religious celebration. A Dionysian spirit is reined in and refined until it becomes a precise worldly expression of something impalpable and divine. Thats what the Wooster Group, like the Shakers, has aimed for. May their lessons, too, be preserved for the generations to come.
The Wooster Group: Early Shaker Spirituals
Wednesday, January 21Saturday, February 1, 8:30 p.m. and
Sunday, January 25 & February 1, 3 p.m.
Location: REDCAT | 631 West 2nd St. Los Angeles, CA 90012
For more information call the REDCAT Box Office at 213-237-2800
Or visit: http://www.redcat.org/event/wooster-group-early-shaker-spirituals
Early Shaker Spirituals is supported in part with generous support from a National Endowment for the Arts Art Works grant.
ABOUT REDCAT | THE ROY AND EDNA DISNEY/CALARTS THEATER
REDCAT, CalArts’ downtown center for contemporary arts, presents a dynamic and international mix of innovative visual, performing and media arts year round. Located inside the iconic Walt Disney Concert Hall complex in downtown Los Angeles, REDCAT houses a theater, a gallery space and a lounge. Through performances, exhibitions, screenings, and literary events, REDCAT introduces diverse audiences, students and artists to the most influential developments in the arts from around the world, and gives artists in this region the creative support they need to achieve national and international stature. REDCAT continues the tradition of the California Institute of the Arts, its parent organization, by encouraging experimentation, discovery and lively civic discourse.
For current program and exhibition information call 213-237-2800 or visit www.redcat.org.
Location/Parking: REDCAT is located in downtown Los Angeles inside the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex with a separate entrance at the corner of West 2nd and Hope Streets. Parking is available in the Walt Disney Concert Hall parking structure. $9 event rate or $5 for vehicles entering after 8:00 pm on weekdays.
Street Address: 631 West 2nd Street, Los Angeles CA 90012
THE LOUNGE | Open to the public six days a week, the Lounge is a great place to spend an afternoon or grab a drink pre- and post-performance.
Lounge Hours: TuesdaysFridays from 9am until 8 pm or post-show; Saturdays from noon until 8 pm or post-show; Sundays from noon until 6pm or post-show
THE GALLERY | REDCAT’s Gallery presents five major exhibitions each year, and publishes artist books and catalogues. Admission to the Gallery is FREE.
Gallery Hours: TuesdaysSundays from noon until 6 pm and through intermission
THE THEATER | Tickets for programs held in the theater are available through the REDCAT Box Office, by phone 213-237-2800 or online at www.redcat.org. Group, member, student and CalArts faculty/staff discounts available.
Box Office Hours: TuesdaysSaturday from noon until 6 pm or two hour prior to curtain