Hatchery Project Artist | September 16 - 22, 2013
Alan Smithee Directed This Play
Big Dance Theater used their time in residence to develop "Alan Smithee Directed This Play," which treats iconic film scripts from from the 1960-80s as found texts and uses them as choreographic source. “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 on the project.
With this new dance/theater work, Director/Choreographer Annie-B Parson and Director Paul Lazar liberate 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 American 70’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 seeks to create an irrational – and highly entertaining - Dada landscape where 1918 Moscow mingles with 1970s America in ways which evoke our own 21st century moment.
While at MANCC, Big Dance mined film/utilize scripts primarily for stylistic tropes, acting styles, movement and emotionality, rather than narrative. Alongside movement generation, Parson and Lazar focused on developing and integrating the sound components of the work. The company invited interns from the School of Dance to see how the directors structure rehearsal, generate and edit material and integrate dance and theater into a cohesive piece. In addition to working with interns, Parson also presented a lecture-demonstration entitled “The Virtuosity of Structure: Tools for Understanding Abstraction” to students, faculty and staff from across campus and the community during the School of Dance weekly forum. Utilizing the history and theory of post-modern dance, Parson discussed abstraction in nature, science and business, offering both viewers and art-makers a broadened perspective on abstraction inside and outside the art world. Big Dance ended the residency with an open rehearsal in which they shared nearly an hour of material to a mixed audience of School of Dance and School of Theatre faculty and students.
This residency is part of The Hatchery Project, a collaborative residency initiative with The Chocolate Factory (Long Island City, NY), RED Arts Project (Philadelphia, PA), Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography at Florida State University (Tallahassee, FL), and Vermont Performance Lab (Guilford, VT) and is made possible with major funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and additional support by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Collaborators in Residence:Chris Giarmo, Aaron Mattocks, Cynthia Hopkins, Tymberly Harris, Kourtney Rutherford, Elizabeth DeMent [performers], Tei Blow [sound designer], Brendan Regimbal [production manager]. Slideshow photos by Chris Cameron.