ANGELS OF SWEDENBORG -- Ping Chong's 1985 dance theatre work will be the opening production of the 50th anniversary season at La MaMa with performances starting October 27 prior to an official press opening Sunday, October 30 at the Ellen Stewart Theatre (66 E. 4 St.) in Manhattan.
ANGELS OF SWEDENBORG is directed by Ping Chong and performed by Great Jones Repertory -- La MaMa's resident company co-founded by the theater's late founder and artistic director Ellen Stewart, Elizabeth Swados and Andrei Serban -- marking the first time in four decades that Great Jones Repertory has been directed by a Guest Artist. Ping Chong and his work, however, are not unfamiliar to La MaMa: he was among the first generation of artists who found a home at La MaMa as a resident artist since 1978, premiering 18 works there through the years, including NOSFERATU, DESHIMA, KWAIDAN and BLIND NESS.
One of Ping Chong's signature works, ANGELS OF SWEDENBORG is a multi-media dance theatre meditation on the fate of modern man, caught between his material existence and spiritual aspirations. ANGELS OF SWEDENBORG is inspired by the 18th century scientist and philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg, who realized that science could not give him his wholeness or sense of spirituality, and subsequently wrote 30 volumes about the visions he had traveling to heaven
and hell and back in his lifetime. Ping Chong notes that Swedenborg, re-imagined as a contemporary man in ANGELS, is a "perfect prototype of the dilemma we're all in now."
A spectacular and physical production that combines dance, theatre, music, multi-media projections, eight angels, two spirits, Swedenborg himself and "600 pounds of feathers," ANGELS OF SWEDENBORG was commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and debuted in 1985, going on to tour extensively throughout the U.S. and Europe, performed last in 1989 in Yugoslavia just prior to the break-up of that Balkan nation. ANGELS OF SWEDENBORG --
last performed in New York at Brooklyn Academy Of Music's Opera House in 1986 -- makes its La MaMa debut with this production.
Mia Yoo, artistic director of La MaMa, says the decision to open La MaMa's 50th anniversary season with ANGELS OF SWEDENBORG was a natural for many reasons, namely Ping Chong's long association with La MaMa, the relevance and timelessness of ANGELS, and similarities between the artistic interests of Ping Chong, described as an artist who makes "modern myths," and Ellen
Stewart, known for her fascination with world myths, having re-imagined ancient tales that convey the human connection to the spirit world in numerous large, physical productions directed for Great Jones Repertory through the years.
"Ping has an extremely expansive notion of performance and, like Ellen, his work has always been interdisciplinary, embracing a variety of forms to fully experiment with theatrical expression," Ms. Yoo states. "He is an ideal choice to bring a new perspective and new energy to Great Jones Repertory Company."
La MaMa's 50th season has been titled "Homecomings" as it will be comprised of more 40 productions by a wide array of artists whose work has been performed at La MaMa through the years, along with resident and international companies, and emerging artists who will make La MaMa their 'home' for the first time.
ANGELS OF SWEDENBORG is a dance theatre work by Ping Chong, with choreography by Ping Chong and John Fleming. Set and prop design is by Watoku Ueno; costume design by Stefani Mar; lighting design by Michael Chybowski; projection design by Jan Hartley; sound design by Brian Hallas; movement by Jeannie Hutchins; assistant director is Jesca Prudencio; Courtney Golden is
production coordinator. Denise Greber is production supervisor for Great Jones Repertory.
THE ANGELS OF SWEDENBORG is performed by Maura Donohue, George Drance, Sara Galassani, Renouard Gee, Henning Hegland, Laurence Martin, Allison Plamondon, Eugene the Poogene, Simeon Pollydore, Federico Restrepo and Perry Yung.
Scheduled through November 13, ANGELS OF SWEDENBORG will perform Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $30/$25 Students & Seniors and can be purchased online at www.lamama.org or by calling the box office at 212 475 7710.
Photo by Damia Cavallari.