A troupe of actors with a penchant for creating unexpected performances on stage will collaborate with an organization devoted to creating theater in unexpected locales as The Vacant Lot Theatre Company debuts, A Child's Drawing of a Monster, in a garage space re-imagined as a performance space by the nonprofit arts advocate, chashama. A selection of six abstract works by Brown University's head of playwrighting, Erik Ehn, A Child's Drawing of a Monster will open at Moe's Taxi, 26-15 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City (one block from Court Square subway stop on the 7, E, G and M lines), on Thursday, July 12, with additional shows on July 13, 14, 15, 16, 18, 19, 20 and 21. Performance times are 8 PM Wednesday through Saturdays and Sunday at 7 PM. Tickets are $18 USD.
The Vacant Lot Theatre Company, a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, has chosen works by Ehn for this performance as Ehn's perspective that, "theater should rely on the art and science of hospitality," aligns with the Company's approach to creating uniquely inspired experiences at each performance. All the selected Ehn pieces revolve around family life, the whispers of childhood, and the process of finding oneself:
A Child's Drawing of a Monster: A Prince is born into an ordinary abusive family.
Equiprobabilism: About a young woman who becomes a cowboy bank robber.
Buttonwillow: About a glassblower who makes a child of glass.
One Eye Gone: A Scientist/Doctor battles a monster while searching for love.
Medusachrist: A young man wrestles with his family's indiscretions while Thanksgiving takes
place on the moon.
Patti Page: A young woman working in a factory finds solace in the music of Patti Page.
While all pieces are making their New York premiere, Equiprobabilism debuted in Baltimore in 2005 with Run of the Mill Theater as part of 13 Christs; One Eye Gone debuted at CalArts in 2008 and was subsequently performed at the Edinborough Fringe Festival; Patti Page, A Child's Drawing of a Monster, Medusachrist and Buttonwillow have never been performed.
"We at Vacant Lot Theatre feel that Erik Ehn's plays need to be produced more because his works are unlike anything seen on stage now," says Ryan Whinnen, who serves as Co-founder and Artistic Director ofVacant Lot.
"Ehn bring worlds that are outside of what we would expect in theater onto the stage and does so improbably, impossibly and beautifully, " Whinnem adds.
Whinnem, who founded The Mobtown Players and ran it for eight years in Baltimore, received his MFA from Catholic University in 2009. He also founded Bright Alchemy Theater in Washington DC, which is dedicated to devised works centering around mystical(ish) themes. He is no stranger to experimental theater, having directed a one hour reduction of Richard III and an adaptation of Little Red Riding Hood involving puppets set in a demilitarized zone.
Emily Clare Zempel, Vacant Lot Co-founder earned an MFA in acting from Brooklyn College. She has performed in regional theater, as well in the off-off theater scene in New York. Zempel is also the Co-
Founder and Managing Director of Spark and Echo Arts, an arts non-profit dedicated to creating the world's largest multi-disciplinary, "illuminated" Bible, that is a collection of art, music, theater, dance, poetry, etc, in response to every passage of the Bible. The works are collected in an online gallery at www.SparkandEcho.org and are presented at live events in New York. She is also a member of Spark & Echo the Band, playing Indie Folk/Pop with biblical text on instruments such as the baritone uke, melodica, clarinet, guitar, and Boris the Bassoon.
Erik Ehn is known for proposing the Regional AlterNative Theatre movement, a network of international theaters. Later this year, his Soulographie, a year long collaboration of plays centering around genocides, will be performed at La Mama in New York City.
"Eight years ago, I stepped into a theater that was putting up Erik Ehn's work and it completely transformed my idea of theater," says Whinnem. "I am excited to be able to bring his works to a New York stage and share what these crazy, lyrical and gut-wrenchingly beautiful plays look like fully realized."