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Alexis Macnab explores the human condition of frailty and error in 'The Portrait of a Lady'

Innovative performance gives new life to Henry James classic

February 24, 2012, Valencia, CA - The Portrait of a Lady, adapted from the novel by Henry James, is the story of a spirited young woman who makes a terrible mistake. Directed by Alexis Macnab, The Portrait of a Lady will be performed at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) School of Theater from Thursday–Saturday, March 15–17, and Monday–Wednesday, March 19–21 at 8pm. Open dress rehearsals will be held Monday–Wednesday, March 12-14 at 8pm.  Performances will be held in Butler Building 2 on the CalArts campus (24700 McBean Parkway, Valencia 91355). General admission is $10.00 and $2.00 for CalArts students and associates with valid ID. For reservations, please visit www.calarts.edu/calendar.

For this adaptation, director Alexis Macnab tasked all designers, performers, managers and technicians with translating the novel into an entirely new and unique theatrical language that evokes the immersive experience of reading the book. This is a journey piece. The audience will be lead along outdoor paths during the performance. Please wear appropriate clothing and footwear. For more information about the process visit http://exquisitemistake.net.

The Portrait of a Lady intimately follows Isabel Archer, an independent American girl, as she moves to Europe and inherits a large fortune. Devoted to her independence, Isabel turns away from many suitors, until she marries a man whose intentions are not what they first seem.  Direct and thought provoking, The Portrait of a Lady asks us to consider how we move on from our missteps.   

Henry James grew up in the 1800s, at a time of American expansion and a European shift toward a more liberal society. It was in this stimulating environment that he wrote The Portrait of a Lady. The book “considers the internal world so closely,” remarked director
Alexis Macnab, “that any twist of thought occurring in a character’s mind had the weight of a physical act in the external world. He created a structure in which a question could read like a robbery, and a revelation like a battle.”

Macnab was trained at the Piven Theater Workshop before moving to Chicago where she began directing professionally. There she mounted her original dance-theater show Night Fractal at the Performance Loft in 2003, and assisted on Joyce Piven’s Speed – the – Plow and Jessica Thebus’ Abingdon Square. Macnab also worked with Redmoon Theater in Chicago and was invited to create an original piece for The River Project, a site-specific event presented along the banks of the Chicago River. She later went on to work in New York with Laboratory Theater, MayDace, imnolost and The Flea Theater. Her original show Hôtel de l’Avenir earned four stars at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe last summer from the publication Three Weeks which called it “mesmerizing.”

Last edited by dthatt on Feb 27, 2012
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