YBCA and Z Space welcome New York-based performance troupe Big Art Group back to the Bay Area with their new work, The People: San Francisco, a site specific, outdoor extravaganza that combines live theater with large scale, real time video projection. The narrative, constructed from interviews with members of the local community who voice their thoughts about democracy, war, terrorism and justice as it relates to their personal histories, loosely recreates the story of Aeschylus’ Oresteia. Live theatrical reenactments are intercut with earlier, taped interviews, projected via large scale video onto the side of a building where the live play and video are viewed by the audience at street level. Perceived as a kind of "living television," The People repurposes commonly used media strategies such as video clips, interviews and re-enactments, to explore extraordinary forces reshaping contemporary government. It then sculpts these developments into a performative action that takes as its inspiration the foundational idea of community dialogue and the birth of democracy as theatrically embodied in the Oresteia. By inverting the established relationship between "mass-media" and private exchange, it transforms the "town square" into a public performance in which both performers and audience act out crucial roles in the construction of self-government.
The People: San Francisco is part of a larger cross-cultural work in which the video choruses from each location will be combined to create a window into the cultural understanding and variation of democratic public expression. To date, three productions in the series have been presented: The People—Italy, which took place in Polverigi, Italy with the participation and support of Inteatro Polverigi in 2007, The People—Germany, at Theatre der Welt 2008 in Halle, Germany, and The People—Austria at Szene Salzburg in 2010. The People: NYC will be presented in October, 2011.
There will be no seating for this standing-room-only event . The audience will occupy the street in front of Z Space to witness this spectacle as it unfolds live inside the building and outside as large screen projections on the side of the building.
ABOUT THE PIECE
In The People, the subjects are simultaneously audience, creators of their own scripts and actors in their own stories. The performance itself is site specific; it takes place in a public plaza using storefronts, houses, or office buildings. The space becomes the arena where the private meets the public, where the established order is inverted.
The creation of a production of The People takes place in three stages. First, approximately thirty local residents are chosen to be interviewed for the project. They are filmed being questioned by other residents on their thoughts and opinions about the chosen site, the town and their community. Drawing from this extended discussion, which also incorporates such themes from the Oresteia as personal history, democracy, war, terrorism and justice, their answers provide the basis of the production.
For the performance, the audience stands outside a chosen building. Within the building an unseen interviewer asks scripted questions to the participants inside as the audience watches a live, simulcast five channel video projection of the action on the façade of the building. What begins as a simulation of a spontaneous interview spills out into the street as a contemporary epic narrative, as the participants embody the characters of the Oresteia, revealing metaphors that turn ordinary, quotidian acts into theatrical expression. Spliced and edited onto the exterior of the buildings with the live theatrical play are the previously recorded interviews that act as video choruses.
The People is at once a component of a large-scale cross-cultural performance project and an original creation in its own right, exploring the relationship between performance, community and action. It takes place with the involvement of the local community in which the participants of the play are members of the public, creating a link between their personal stories and the realm of the epic, to shine a light on the relationship between the individual and the democratic process. It draws from classical traditions and Greek Tragedy as well as contemporary modes of mediated expression.
Created: Caden Manson and Jemma Nelson
Director and Scenographer: Caden Manson
Text and Sound: Jemma Nelson
Produced by Big Art Group
Lighting Design: Hillery Makatura
System Programer: Jared Mezzocchi
Production Manager: Ana Mari de Quesada
Company Performers: David Commander, Heather Litteer, Willie Mullins
Co-producers: Theatre Der Welt (Germany), Inteatro Festival (Italy), Szene Salzburg (Austria), Abrons Art Center (NYC)
Funders: MAP Fund 2009, New York State Council for the Arts
The People: San FranciscoSep 16, 2011 8:00pm
Sep 17, 2011 8:00pm
Z Space (450 Florida St between 17th and Mariposa)$10 General Admission; FREE for YBCA members
For FREE YBCA member tickets, please login before completing your online order, or call the YBCA Box Office at 415-978-ARTS (2787).
Caden Manson and Jemma Nelson founded Big Art Group in 1999 with the dual purposes of creating a dynamic, vital performance group that would assemble a unique range of performers and designers in the search of a new approach to performance; and of contributing an uncompromising, relevant and original body of work to the New York, national and international performance stage.
Big Art Group is a New York based theater performance ensemble that uses language and media to push formal boundaries of theatre, film and visual arts to create culturally transgressive works and innovative performances using original text, technology and experimental methods of communication. In collaboration with a culturally diverse ensemble, Big Art Group explores, develops and produces experimental, innovative new live performances.
Big Art Group has produced eleven original works, CLEARCUT, catastrophe (1999), The Balladeer (2000), Shelf Life (2001), Flicker (2002), House of No More (2004), Dead Set #2 and #3 (2006-7), The People (2007), The Sleep (2007), The Imitation (2008), SOS (2009), and Cityrama (2010). In these pieces, co-founder and director Caden Manson invented the integrated spectacle "Real-Time Film," a hybrid of film and theatre in which actors recombined formal ideas of performance through the use of simultaneous acting on stage and for live video using complex task based choreography, digital puppeteering, cinematic framing, and delivery of dense texts.
Big Art Group’s unique contribution to the contemporary performance field is its commitment to the investigation of challenging, relevant contemporary performance using New York artists and collaborating with European artists, festivals, and theaters. Big Art Group demonstrates the vitality of American based performance to a new generation of international and national audiences. Its multiple return co-productions and engagements at leading world theatre festivals such as Festival d'Automne (Paris, France), Hebbel am Ufer (Berlin, Germany), Théâtre Garonne (Toulouse, France), Weiner Festwochen (Vienna, Austria), Temps d'Image Festival (Montreal, Canada), and deSignel (Antwerp, Belgium) has given the company the opportunity to represent the American contemporary performance field internationally.
The company’s works exists in the contemporary stream of post-dramatic performance, wherein traditional narratives and established performer-audience relationships have been opened up to create possibilities of innovative discovery. The work blends high and low technology, marginal and mainstream culture, and blunt investigation to expand the boundaries of the theater field, and in a larger sense to drive questions about contemporary experience.
In the company’s eleven-year history creating original performance works, Big Art Group has grown from a small New York underground performance group to an internationally prominent and critically recognized ensemble with reviews and critical articles in performance literature (PAJ, Yale Journal of Theater, TDR, Mouvement, Theatre Heute), and grants from The Jerome Foundation, DNA (Andrew W. Mellon foundation and Arts International), NYSCA, Florence Gould Foundation, MAP Fund, and étant donnés.
YBCA's programs are made possible in part by:
National Endowment for the Arts
YBCA Performance 11–12 is made possible in part by:
Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
Additional Funding for YBCA Performance 11–12:
Zellerbach Family Foundation
Panta Rhea Foundation
Cultural Services of the French Embassy
New England Foundation for the Arts
and Members of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
SF Bay Guardian