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The Wooster Group's Production of 'La Didone' at REDCAT--Presentation Launches a Four-Year Partnership

Presentation Launches Four-year Partnership between The Wooster Group and REDCAT

"The mind-bending pyrotechnics -- visual, aural and intellectual -- never stop in 'La Didone'  ... so unusually stimulating (not to mention so entertaining)." New York Times

Los Angeles, CA, May 5, 2009--The Wooster Group returns to REDCAT with La Didone, a daring production of Francesco Cavalli's 1641 Baroque opera, melded with elements of Italian director Mario Bava's 1965 sci-fi cult film Terrore nello spazio (Planet of the Vampires). The West Coast premiere of La Didone, which opens June 11th and runs through June 21st, follows a well-received run in New York.

This presentation of La Didone marks the beginning of a four-year partnership between The Wooster Group and REDCAT featuring annual residencies by the company in Los Angeles. The bi-coastal project accompanies The Wooster Group's designation as the resident ensemble of the Baryshnikov Arts Center's new Jerome Robbins Theater in mid-town Manhattan and is funded by a $1-million grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Trust and the Non-Profit Finance Fund. The multi-week Los Angeles residencies will include performances, discussions, screenings, and interaction with CalArts faculty and students through in-person talks and web-based activities. Prior to this collaboration, REDCAT presented The Wooster Group productions of Hamlet and Poor Theater.  Already on the calendar for Febuary 2010, REDCAT will present the U.S. premiere of The Wooster Group's production of Tennessee Williams' Vieux Carré.

Directed by Elizabeth LeCompte and under the musical direction of Bruce Odland, The Wooster Group's production of Francesco Cavalli's La Didone takes up a work from the days when opera was an emerging art form, born out of the power of the voice and the lute in pure acoustic space, and sets it down in a new world splintered by telepresence and the brazen excitement of the electric guitar.
Then, traveling further forward in time, and stirring another Italian cultural artifact into the mix, the Group brings into collision the ancient shipwreck tale of Aeneas with the crashed spaceships of Mario Bava's 1965 sci-fi horror film Terrore nello spazio (Planet of the Vampires).  The elements of this cult movie--the sleek matching leather space uniforms, the forbidding planetary landscapes, the battles with the walking dead--come into unexpected synergy with the baroque textures of Cavalli's score and the classic themes of the Dido story: the loss of culture and family, the destructive (and redemptive) power of erotic passion, the imperial will to colonize, and the sheer tenacity of human nature in the face of annihilation.

La Didone features The Wooster Group ensemble--Ari Fliakos, Scott Shepherd, Kate Valk, Judson Williams--with associates Andrew Nolen (bass), Kamala Sankaran (soprano), John Young (tenor), and the beautiful mezzo-soprano Hai-Ting Chinn as Dido.  Scotland's Onstage said Chinn's "...glorious, soaring voice commands attention whatever planetary mayhem is happening around her."  The instrumentalists include Jennifer Griesbach, Hank Heijink, Kamala Sankaram, Scott Shepherd, Harvey Valdes, and David Walker.

Production: The Wooster Group, KunstenFESTIVALdesArts
Coproduction: Edinburgh International Festival, Productiehuis Rotterdam (Rotterdamse Schouwburg), Grand Théâtre du Luxembourg, CC Belém (Lisboa)

Funded in part with generous support from Lillian and Jon Lovelace, Judith O. and Robert E. Rubin, and Abby Sher.

The Wooster Group's La Didone runs June 11 - 21, 2009 at REDCAT.  Performances take place Tuesday - Saturday at 8:30pm and Sunday at 7:00pm with no performance on Monday, June 15 and Thursday, June 18.  Tickets are $40-55, with student discounts available.  Seating is general admission.  Tickets and information at the REDCAT box office, 213.237.2800 or www.redcat.org.

REDCAT, the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater, is located at the corner of W. 2nd and Hope Streets, inside the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex (631 West 2nd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012).

The Wooster Group is an ensemble of artists who are known worldwide for their ground-breaking experiments in theater, dance and media. Under the direction of Elizabeth LeCompte, the Group has made more than 30 works, including Rumstick Road (1977), L.S.D., (...Just The High Points...) (1984), Brace Up! (1991), House/Lights (1999), To You, The Birdie! (Phèdre) (2002), and Hamlet (2007). The Group has toured in the U.S. and internationally to Europe, Russia, North and South America, Asia, and Australia. The Performing Garage at 33 Wooster Street is the company's permanent home. It owns and operates the Garage as a shareholder in the Grand Street Artists Co-op, established as part of the Fluxus art movement in the 1960s.

The Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater, opened by CalArts in 2003, introduces diverse audiences, students and artists to the most influential developments in the arts from around the world, and gives artists in this region the creative support they need to achieve national and international stature.  REDCAT is the newest partner in an international network of adventurous art and performance centers, which together are playing a vital role in the evolution of contemporary culture.  REDCAT is a center for experimentation, discovery, and lively civic discourse.

REDCAT sponsors include The Standard, Ovation TV, KCRW and LA Weekly.
REDCAT acknowledgements

Last edited by Smith on Aug 25, 2010
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