Sunday, March 25, 2012

American theater under the sign of Obama: “From the Edge,” USA pavilion from Prague, debuts in North America

LONGBEACH, CALIF.: The American pavilion, a national exposition of American sociopolitical theater under the sign of President Barack Obama — my pride and joy from the 2011 Prague Quadrennial — is making its USA debut.

From the Edge, the USA-USITT Design Exhibition, has returned from Prague and will be a feature exhibit in Long Beach, Calif. The 2011 Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design & Space had more than 40,000 visitors during 10 active and inspiring days in June.

The American pavilion, From the Edge, will be on display at Stage Expo, one of the Special Exhibits on display during the USITT Long Beach conference.

The USA-USITT Design Exhibit team recommends people experience the exhibit more than once while at the Long Beach Conference & Stage Expo promising the interior collage will be different every time you stop by.

Gallery talks at the exhibit will provide an opportunity to learn about the exhbit from those intimately involved in its creation.

USITT USA National Pavilion at Prague Quadrennial: "From the Edge" | Photo by Randy Gener

After an eight-year absence, USITT returns to Long Beach, Calif., on March 28-31, 2012, for the 2012 Annual Conference & Stage Expo. Situated in downtown Long Beach, adjacent to the Shoreline Marina and The Pike shopping and entertainment center, the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center will serve as the site of USITT's 52nd annual conference.

As with the past three Long Beach conferences (in 1998, 2001, and 2004), the proximity of southern California's entertainment industries, including film, television, live music, and themed entertainment, gives conference planners many excellent opportunities to develop a very special conference for USITT members.

Artistic director Susan Tsu conceived the socio-political theme and invited curators Chris Barecca, Linda Cho, Allen Hahn, and Don Tindall to work with her to identify uniquely American designs from compelling theatre ensembles. Randy Gener was appointed Curatorial Advisor. Out of 360 submissions, the curatorial team had the difficult task of identifying the most seminal works to take to Prague.

What surfaced were 37 unique viewpoints from theatre artists reflecting on those issues consuming Americans today: issues of identity, healing and obsessions with death and loss after 9/11 and hurricane Katrina.

The pull of conscience is inevitable when engaged in war; anger directed toward the obliviousness of many to the destruction of our planet; rising political polarities and ambiguities in reaction to our first African American president; tensions relative to race and gender; anxieties about technology; the role of religion in society; challenges of the differently-abled and finally, a nod to Americans at play, while eating, and while re-envisioning classic work and performance as we know it.

USITT USA National Pavilion at Prague Quadrennial: "From the Edge" | Photo by Randy Gener
Some of the featured works include Paul Chan’s Waiting for Godot set in New Orleans, Nancy Keystone’s Apollo and America PlayBrian Sidney Bembridge’s design for The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, Rob Roth’s Screen Test, and Basil Twist’s Arias with a Twist.

Special recognition was given to The Builder’s Association, Cornerstone Theatre,  Ping Chong and Company, Theatre de la Jeune Lune, Siti Company, and The Wooster Group for the inspiration and leadership they have provided through the years. Tribute was given to two American theatre greats: August Wilson and Ellen Stewart.

Scene designer Bill Bloodgood designed the exhibit space, which reflects the garage home bases of so many of the represented ensembles.  It is topped with two of Pat Oleszko’s inflatables -- the WarUSaurus and Miss-ills of the USA. Inside, in addition to models and photographs, videos edited by Jason Lindahl, soundscapes by Don Tindall and lighting by Allen Hahn pulse in a five-hour loop of ever-changing material.

The exhibit was built by the University of Montana team headed by Mike Monsos and Alessia Carpoca. R. Eric Stone contributed immeasurably to all aspects of exhibit installation. Cosmin Chivu and Carolina Conte were videographers. Randy Gener conducted interviews. Daniel Denhart was the Managing Producer while Alexandra Bonds headed up the entire venture as our International Liaison.

Inside "From the Edge" exposition | Photo by Randy Gener


Peter J. Crowley said...

Good Luck,
Looks like a great show. Hope it travels to East Coast. enjoy pjc

Unknown said...

Thank you, Peter. I am working on bringing it to the East Coast. Cross your fingers.