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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Source: An Interview with Director Daniel Fish

by Morgan Green

The first time I worked with Daniel Fish, I was an intern on his production at the now defunct Incubator Arts Space. The full title of the piece was: Tom Ryan Thinks He’s James Mason Starring in a Movie by Nicholas Ray in Which a Man’s Illness Provides an Escape From the Pain, Pressure and Loneliness of Trying to Be the Ultimate American Father, Only to Drive Him Further Into the More Thrilling Though Possibly Lonelier Roles of Addict and Misunderstood Visionary. At one point in this production every evening, actor Christina Rouner would turn to actor Thomas Jay Ryan and dump several gallons of milk over his head. It was my job each night to mop up this milk, scrape away the calcified residue from between the floorboards and repaint the stained portion of the set. I was the milk girl. The play was powerful, the concept strong, the cast excellent, and the mop pungent.

Ryan Hatch, Culturebot writer, aptly described Daniel’s work as “something actually, categorically new taking place... some unfamiliar idea about the theater.” This was true of Daniel’s work then and it is true now.

Daniel Fish is a rigorously inventive American auteur director at BAM for the first time this week with The Source (Oct 22—25). This piece uses the content leaked by Private Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning to WikiLeaks. It is a convergence of Ted Hearne’s music, Mark Doten’s libretto, Daniel’s direction, and video made with Jim Findlay. I had the chance to talk to Daniel earlier this year about the piece.



Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Source source material

Material for The Source (Oct 22—25, BAM Fisher) was drawn from primary source texts by librettist Mark Doten and set to music by composer Ted Hearne. Four singers housed in a visual and sonic installation bring the work to life with direction by Daniel Fish. The company inhabits a multimedia assemblage of Twitter feeds, cable news reports, court testimonies, and chat transcripts in a multimedia oratorio that investigates media hysteria, secrets, and identity amid digital chaos. Mark Doten provides context for excerpts from his libretto.

The most staggering aspect of the classified materials that Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning leaked is their almost ungraspable scope. They include 483,000 army field reports from Iraq and Afghanistan and 251,000 diplomatic cables; these were released, along with video of a US airstrike in Baghdad, by WikiLeaks and its media partners in 2010.

The reporting at the time focused less on what the leaks revealed about America’s conduct of wars and diplomacy than on the personalities involved. While I believe that the content of the leaks is more important than any individual—including Manning—there are several players who were integral to the events; brief descriptions of them are below. 





Monday, October 20, 2014

BASETRACK Live—Virtually Home




The Afghanistan war, started after 9/11, is one of the costliest and longest wars our country has seen. While there has been no lack of coverage, unfiltered reports from people directly affected by the war are harder to come by. That is why the photojournalist Teru Kuwayama’s Facebook project Basetrack created so many waves in 2010. It provided a platform not only for marines on the frontline, but also for their families and friends to connect and tell the world what they saw and felt. Those first-hand accounts are now a theater work, BASETRACK Live, created by Edward Bilous and directed by Seth Bockley (Harvey Theater, Nov 11—15). Using words and images culled from the Basetrack archive and interviews conducted by the creative team, this multi-media work features two actors, four musicians, and a cascade of images and videos, telling the firsthand stories of marines and their families. For producer Anne Hamburger, to get it on stages around the country is as much an artistic adventure as a civic engagement. She discusses the genesis and goals of BASETRACK Live.

What are the challenges in bringing this show to the stage?


Anne Hamburger: As BASETRACK Live is a truly collaborative, multi-media piece, it can’t exist as a script on paper. It’s only when the elements come together that you know how they relate. In performances at the University of Florida in Gainesville we experimented with script and structure with the whole creative team. In a second residency at ASU Gammage in Arizona we focused on integrating the technological elements, refining the video, music, and live performance in relationship to one another.

The central characters are AJ, a Marine, and his newlywed, Melissa. Their lines are taken from interviews with them. They face difficulties because of AJ’s war experience. Is their story representative of military couples? How are they coping with having their lives seen by thousands of strangers?


AH: Their experience is typical for young recruits returning home. Many people enlist when they are very young, and then go overseas for multiple deployments, placing real strain on their families. The war also changes people and coming home is a huge, often misunderstood adjustment. This is one of the issues that BASETRACK Live vividly portrays. AJ and Melissa—thrilled and grateful that their story is at the center of BASETRACK Live—attended our world premiere in Austin, and BAM.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Puppets on Film 2014: The Dark Crystal Legacy

Next Friday marks the opening of BAMcinématek’s fourth annual collaboration with the Jim Henson Foundation on the ever-popular Puppets on Film, and we’re kicking off the festivities with an epic Dark Crystal fan fest extravaganza showcasing some of the film’s collaborators (the celebrated conceptual designers Brian and Wendy Froud) and the work of a few very talented fans.

Earlier this year, DarkCrystal.com and the Jim Henson Company held two contests celebrating the film’s legacy: the “Create a Dark Crystal Creature” Contest for puppet designers and “Author Quest” for fiction writers. The winners of both contests will present their work at the fan fest, and we spoke to both of them about the experience of creating their entries.

Create a Dark Crystal Creature winner Jeff Brown

When I first heard about the contest, I was very excited to try my hand at it. The first few weeks were just spent watching the movie at any chance possible, listening to the soundtrack every day on repeat, and reading all The Dark Crystal books ever written.  I began building the creature and his story in my head.  I didn't actually start working on the physical sculpture until a week before the deadline.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

In Context: Kontakthof



Pina Bausch's Kontakthof runs at BAM from October 23 to November 2. Context is everything, so get even closer to the show with this curated selection of original blog pieces, articles, interviews, and videos related to the production. Once you've seen it, help us keep the conversation going by telling us what you thought below.

In Context: Angels in America


Tony Kushner's Angels In America, directed by Ivo Van Hove, runs at BAM October 23—25. Context is everything, so get even closer to the show with this curated selection of original blog pieces, articles, interviews, and videos related to the production. Once you've seen it, help us keep the conversation going by telling us what you thought below.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

In Context: The Source


The Source runs at BAM from October 22—25. Context is everything, so get even closer to the show with this curated selection of articles, interviews, and videos related to the production. Once you've seen it, help us keep the conversation going by telling us what you thought below.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

In Context: Brooklyn Bred 2: Pablo Helguera

Pablo Helguera performs The Parable Conference at BAM as part of Brooklyn Bred 2 on October 18. Context is everything, so get even closer to the show with this curated selection of original blog pieces, articles, interviews, and videos related to Helguera's work. Once you've seen it, help us keep the conversation going by telling us what you thought below.

In Context: Brooklyn Bred 2: Dynasty Handbag



Dynasty Handbag (Jibz Cameron) performs Soggy Glasses at BAM as part of Brooklyn Bred 2 on October 17. Context is everything, so get even closer to the show with this curated selection of original blog pieces, articles, interviews, and videos related to Cameron's work. Once you've seen it, help us keep the conversation going by telling us what you thought below.

In Context: Brooklyn Bred 2: Clifford Owens



Clifford Owens performs A Forum for Performance Art at BAM as part of Brooklyn Bred 2 on October 16. Context is everything, so get even closer to the show with this curated selection of original blog pieces, articles, interviews, and videos related to Owens' work. Once you've seen it, help us keep the conversation going by telling us what you thought below.