HERE and the Dream Music Puppetry Program are set to present Sonnambula, created by Michael Bodel in collaboration with vocalist Casey Cole. This production is set to play 9 performances only from November 10 - 19 in the Dorothy B. Williams Theater at HERE (145 Sixth Avenue). Presented as part of HERE's 2011-12 Season, Sonnambula is a HERE Artist Residency Program (HARP) production.
Sonnambula is a multidisciplinary meta-journey that unpeels Vincenzo Bellini's mysterious La Sonnambula, zeroing in on the opera's central role of The Sleepwalker. As The Sleepwalker's plunge from clarity to confusion is channeled by vocalist Casey Cole, live cello, two choric dancers, miniature scenery, puppetry on multiple scales and an environment infused with dramatic lighting, motion and scents of lavender, cedar and musty loam draw viewers ever deeper into the world of the of the opera. In this spectacular realm of layered atmospheric elements, Cole's performance ultimately merges with that of Guiditta Pasta, the diva who premiered the legendary role of The Sleepwalker in 1831.
Michael Bodel (creator, director, choreographer) is a choreographer, puppeteer and dance theorist. He holds a BA in Dance and Astronomy from Wesleyan University and an MFA in Dance from Hollins University & The American Dance Festival. His current creative and scholarly interests include Caribbean carnival, children, dance film, immigration, Michel Foucault, place, Ralph Lemon, reincarnation, relational aesthetics, semiotics, sensation and tourism. He is currently developing Dance and Other Archives, a series of subjective documentary performances about Brooklyn. The project spans personal interviews with the dancers' grandparents, recordings from the West Indian Carnival Celebration on Eastern Parkway, and dances choreographed to classified ads from the Park Slope Parents blog. This evolving series has iterated at One Arm Red and the American Dance Festival, and it will have a site-specific incarnation in Spring 2012 at the Brooklyn Historical Society. Michael's multi-modal works for stage include Mrs Hodges Was Struck by a Meteorite (2005) about love and the probability of being hit by various objects, and Sun Sheets & Small Shoes (2006), a dance for 4 women, bed sheets & 40 baby shoes. Bodel has directed two dance films - Greece Piece (2008) and Night Wine (2006), and curates the ongoing FRAMEWORKS dance film series at Dance New Amsterdam. He is half of the absurdist devised-theater duo Farmers for Flight Attendants, which authored three athlete-related physical comedies encapsulated by The Sports Trilogy at the Philly Fringe Festival (2005-2008), and is now creating a power-point presentation with dance breaks on reincarnation and the Civil War.
Casey Cole (vocalist / musical director) is based in Berlin, where she regularly works with musicians from the Deutsche Oper, Komische Oper Berlin and Bayreuther Festspiele. She has recently made the successful transition to lyric soprano repertoire. In 2009, she sang the role of Vitellia with dell'Arte Opera Ensemble. Recently, Cole was featured in a concert series in Berlin, singing excerpts from Maria Stuarda, Turandot and Pagliacci, and performed with Kentucky Opera in the title role of Williamson's The Happy Prince, and in New York as Miss Todd in The Old Maid and the Thief, Dorabella in Cosi fan tutte, and Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro. She has created roles in several world premieres with American Opera Projects and Encompass New Opera Theater. Cole made her Carnegie Hall debut in 2003 as a soloist with the New York City Chorale and was a finalist in the New Jersey Alliance for Performing Arts and Lotte Lenya competitions. She holds degrees from New England Conservatory and Boston University. She also trained as an actor with the Siti Company and the Actor's Workshop Boston and was a faculty member at the Lee Strasberg Institute for Theater and Film.
Sonnambula features cellist Malina Rauschenfels, puppeteers Lindsay Abromaitis-Smith, Kate Brehm, Kirsten Kammermeyer and Katie Sasso, dancers Cheri Paige Fogleman and Katherine Lung. Original Music is by Vincenzo Bellini with arrangement by Malina Rauschenfels. Lighting is by Ayumu "Poe" Saegusa. Costumes are by Hunter Kaczorowski. Projections are by Hanna Wasileski. Sonnambula includes additional puppet choreography by Lindsay Abromaitis-Smith and additional puppet design by Diana Ho.
Since 1993, the OBIE-winning HERE, Kristin Marting, Artistic Director and Kim Whitener, Producing Director, has been one of New York's premier arts organizations and a leader in the field of producing and presenting new, hybrid performance viewed as a seamless integration of artistic disciplines-theater, dance, music and opera, puppetry, media, visual and installation, spoken word and performance art. Standout productions include Basil Twist's Symphonie Fantastique and Arias with a Twist, Hazelle Goodman's On Edge, Trey Lyford & Geoff Sobelle's all wear bowlers, Young Jean Lee's Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven, Corey Dargel's Removable Parts, Taylor Mac's The Lily's Revenge and Yoav Gal's Mosheh, among many others. HERE's work is challenging and alternative and offers audiences the opportunity to feel that they are part of something new and fresh.
HERE's core program is the HERE Artist Residency Program (HARP), through which HERE commissions, develops and produces new hybrid theater performances, which are cross-disciplinary works that challenge existing boundaries among media and forms of expression, creating a seamless integration aimed at reflecting the complex age of imagery and information in which we live. As part of the HERE community of artists and audiences, the mid-career Resident Artists show works-in-progress and develop workshop productions (shown in CULTUREMART) over a three-year developmental period, finally mounting full-scale productions. Through HARP, HERE grows innovative artistic work, while offering artists resources and hands-on training in areas such as production planning, marketing, budgeting, grantwriting and touring. Each season, HERE produces four-to-six Resident Artist productions as mainstage works.
HERE's Dream Music Puppetry Program is one of few programs in the country to grow and commission contemporary adult puppet works. Dream Music provides performance opportunities to puppet artists and encourages multidisciplinary collaboration to develop new puppetry techniques. This program was inaugurated with the premiere of Basil Twist's OBIE-award winning Symphonie Fantastique in 1998 and the opening of the Dorothy B. Williams Theatre, an intimate space created specifically for intimate puppetry. Under the artistic direction of Twist, with producing direction from HERE co-founder Barbara Busackino, the Dream Music aesthetic is geared toward puppet works that feature live music as a collaborative element. Dream Music seeks to secure the future of puppetry by providing increased development and performance opportunities to puppet artists, and by collaborating with artists from other disciplines to develop new puppetry techniques. Over the past ten years, Dream Music has presented in the Dorothy B. Williams Theatre many exciting artists ranging from eclectic international troupes to The Jim Henson International Festival of Puppetry and has commissioned over 20 full-scale puppetry works from New York based puppeteers including the acclaimed Arias with a Twist in 2008 (which recently returned in September 2011 for a limited engagement at Abrons Arts Center).