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Big Dance Theater

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Thursday, October 3, 2013
- | Segal Theatre

Alan Smithee Directed This Play

Photo by Dorothy Hung

Photo by Dorothy Hung

With their next dance/theater work, Alan Smithee Directed This Play, Big Dance Theater liberates film scripts from their narrative moorings to reveal a stunning series of pure film tropes, which meld pathos and politics from iconic films of the American70’s and Cold War Russia. On a stage littered with fur coats, lawn chairs, and telephones, decades merge; renegades draw guns on their adversaries; astronauts self- congratulate, revolutionaries pontificate; tragic lovers bid farewell under the threat of nuclear war; and American suburbanites grapple with abortion, debt and divorce. Using a flurry of mind-bending dance and theater fragments, Big Dance masterfully creates an irrational – and highly entertaining – Dada landscape where 1918 Moscow mingles with 1970s America in ways which evoke our own 21st century moment.

Note: Alan Smithee is the pseudonym used by members of the Directors Guild when a director, dissatisfied with the final product, leaves a film for lack of creative control, effectively erasing his participation in the project.

“In the waning days of the cold war, I was working for the State Department. All my days at State were hard ones: Russia had invaded Afghanistan, detente had collapsed, the threat of Nuclear War was very real, and at the end of the day, I would often draw the curtains, curl up in my arm chair, with two television monitors side by side, I would pop two videos into two VCR’s so I could watch two movies at the same time. Always the same two movies. As I slipped into semi-consciousness 1918 Moscow would mingle with 1970 Houston in ways my conscious mind could not conceive of. At the time I had no idea what I as up to with those semiconscious late night sessions, but I’m often shocked at how much our post-Cold War 21st century resembles the surreality of my homemade blend of motion pictures.” – Alan Smithee

Collaborating Artists: Co-Director/Choreographer: Annie-B Parson; Co-Director/Performer: Paul Lazar; Performers: Cynthia Hopkins, Tymberly Canale, Chris Giarmo, Aaron Mattocks, Elizabeth DeMent; Set Designer: Joanne Howard; Video Designer: Jeff Larson; Light Designer: Joe Levasseur; Sound Designer: Tei Blow; Costume Designer: Oana Botez; Production Manager: Brendan Regimbal; Producer: Aaron Rosenblum

About Big Dance Theater: Founded in 1991, Big Dance Theater, led by Co-Artistic Directors Annie-B Parson and Paul Lazar, has created over 15 dance/theater works using sources ranging from Euripides, Flaubert, and Twain, to the illicit tapes of Richard Nixon to Okinawan pop. Big Dance Theater received “Bessie” Awards in 2002 and 2010; the company was awarded an OBIE in 2000, and the first Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival Award for Dance in 2007. Big Dance is an inaugural member of the Hatchery Project, a residency consortium. Most recent commissions have been from the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Les Subsistances (Lyon, France), Chaillot National Theater (Paris, France), The Anticodes Festival, and The Walker Art Center. Big Dance Theater has been presented nationally by: Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York Live Arts, Dance Theater Workshop, The Kitchen, Classic Stage Company, Japan Society, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, The Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago), Walker Art Center, Arts and Ideas Festival, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, On the Boards, UCLA Live, and The Spoleto Festival. Internationally, the company has performed at many festivals and theaters in France, Italy, Belgium, The Netherlands, Brazil and Germany. Big Dance is creating Man in a Case (Chekhov) with Mikhail Baryshnikov for Hartford Stage (2013), as well as a film version of Another Telepathic Thing with Jonathan Demme.

Upcoming for Alan Smithee Directed This Play: Premiere March 2014, Les Subsistances, Lyon, France