La MaMa in association with Loco7 Dance Puppet Theatre Company presents the World Premiere of Urban Odyssey, a dance puppet theatre piece conceived by Federico Restrepo and Denise Greber, designed, directed and choreographed by Federico Restrepo, with original music composed by Obie Award Winner Elizabeth Swados, and text by Elias Khoury. Loco7 is celebrating their 25th Anniversary season this year. Urban Odyssey, part of La MaMa's 50th Anniversary season, runs Off-Broadway from March 22 – April 8, 2012 in a limited engagement at La MaMa's Ellen Stewart Theatre, located at 66 East 4th Street between 2nd Avenue & the Bowery in New York City. Previews begin March 22 for a March 24 opening. Check out production shots below.
Performances are Thursdays – Saturdays at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2:30pm. The Sunday, April 1 show will be streamed worldwide at 2:30pm at http://LaMaMa.org and http://www.CultureHub.org. Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for students/seniors and can be purchased online at http://LaMaMa.org, in person at the box office or by calling 212-475-7710. The running time is 80 minutes with no intermission. The show's appropriate for ages twelve and up. La MaMa is accessible from the F train to 2nd Ave. or the #6 train to Bleecker St. For more information visit http://www.Loco7.org.
Urban Odyssey depicts the experience of immigration to America through movement and visual theatre. This new work is the culmination of a ten-year investigation that began in 2002 with a production created from Federico Restrepo's personal experience as a Colombian immigrant. The first episode 9 Windows revealed a series of multi-media experiences of being a displaced immigrant. The second episode Open Door (2006) addressed the impact of the many immigrants from diverse cultural backgrounds that make up NYC; revealing their histories and states of mind. The third episode Room to Panic (2008) depicted the joy, fear, alienation and struggle that reveal the allure, disillusionments and rites of passage to achieve the American Dream. Urban Odyssey will merge all these concepts, creating an epic journey that acknowledges the inevitability of a new American culture. A voyage of human experience, from leaving ones homeland, to finding a new country, to making a new home and setting down roots.
The cast includes Federico Restrepo, Penelope J. Armstead-Williams, Ching-I Chang (Sleep No More), Maura Donohue (In Mixed Company Artistic Director), Denise Greber, Rob Laqui (MOMIX's Botanica) and Gilbert Reyes, along with puppeteers Rocky Bostick, Kiku Sakai and Kayla Schetter.
The creative and design team includes Kris Kukul (Arrangement and Musical Direction), Federico Restrepo and Angela "Nena" Sierra (Video Edit and Design), Catarina Leitao (Tent Puppet Design), Federico Restrepo (Set and Lighting Design), Denise Greber (Costume Design) and AdriAna Garcia-Pena (Production Technical Director).
Under the direction and vision of Federico Restrepo, Loco7 has been in existence since 1985. Loco7's mission has been to develop the use of puppetry as an instrument for the dancer, a style that incorporates dance and design. Utilizing rhythmic music, dancers, body puppets and larger then life marionettes, Restrepo weaves a choreography that extends beyond the body of the dancer. Dealing with themes such as South American Culture and History, the immigrants' experience and urban life, Restrepo creates an animated movement, in an ever-changing and surreal environment, bringing the stage to life.
Federico Restrepo (Co-Creator/Director/Designer/Choreographer) was born in Bogota, Colombia and founded his company, Loco7, at La MaMa in 1986 to expand the use of puppetry in dance theatre. With Loco7 he has created over twelve original productions, and acted as the creator, director and designer. As a performer Restrepo appeared at La MaMa as a member of the Great Jones Repertory Company in numerous shows by Ellen Stewart. He is a resident choreographer, director, puppet designer and performer of La MaMa.
Denise Greber (Co-Creator) is an artist in resident at La MaMa, where she has been performing, designing and touring internationally over the past twelve years. For the past five years she has been the curator for the La MaMa Puppet Series, an annual event that brings international and national artists to La MaMa over a month long period.
Elizabeth Swados (Composer) is known for her Broadway and international smash hit Runaways. She has composed, written and directed for over thirty years. Some of her works include the Obie Award-winning Trilogy at La MaMa, Alice at the Palace with Meryl Streep at the New York Shakespeare Theater Festival and Groundhog, which was optioned by Milos Forman for a film. Her awards include five Tony nominations, three Obie Awards, a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Helen Hayes Award.
Elias Khoury (Text/Writer) is a Lebanese novelist, playwright, critic and a prominent public intellectual. He has published ten novels, which have been translated into several foreign languages, as well as several works of literary criticism. He has also written three plays. Between 1993 and 2009 he served as editor of Al-Mulhaq, the weekly cultural supplement of the Lebanese daily newspaper Al-Nahar.
This project was made possible in part with public funds from The Jim Henson Foundation; NALAC Diverse Arts Spaces Grant Program and the Ford Foundation Diverse Arts Spaces; Manhattan Community Arts Fund, supported by New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and administered by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council; The Robert Sterling Clark Foundation and the WNYC STAR Initiative.
Photo Credit: Richard Greene