Entertainment » Theatre

La Mama Brings to Stage Life of Nun and Proto-Feminist Hildegard Von Bingen

Monday Nov 30, 2015

Pioneers Go East Collective has announced that La MaMa will present their production of "Hildegard (vision)," an intimate and immersive performance installation inspired by the life and work of visionary nun Hildegard Von Bingen, written by Abby Felder and directed by Gian Marco Lo Forte with sound design/composition by John Sully, and choreography by Ellen Fisher, December 3-20 at LaMaMa, 74A East 4th Street in Manhattan. The official opening will be on Sunday, December 6th at 2 p.m..
"Hildegard (vision)," is a stunning performance with sound installation, medieval music and found text, object puppetry, stop animation and live and recorded video, inspired by the life and work of the mystic, artist and "proto-feminist" Hildegard Von Bingen. The performance is structured around the four phases of a migraine cycle which are believed to have caused hallucinations that formed the basis of Hildegard's artwork and metaphysics, and explore how they fed her creative expression, allowing her to transcend her cloistered environment.
"In researching the migraine cycle, we learned that the accompanying auditory and visual hallucinations enable insight into the neurological process behind sight and sound, as well as the way time and space are perceived," explained director Gian Marco Lo Forte.  "The migraine, which is often triggered by an emotional event, is expansive, and we believe the root of Hildegard's ability to image a life beyond the confines of her faith, environment and gender.  Using soundscape and video to define Hildegard's temporal (past and present) and spatial (internal and external) locations allows spectators to have a shared perspective with the piece's protagonist."
The work includes two opera singers, and four performers. Both spoken text and songs are live and/or processed thru microphones. The soundscape includes medieval sounds that link spectators to Hildegard's historical context. The performance relies on visuals and video -- both live and recorded -- to define the motions of the migraine process; ultimately the work depicts Hildegard's creative journey as a meditative, live art experience.

The work has been developed as a collaboration between Gian Marco Lo Forte, Abby Felder and John Sully and excerpts were presented at La MaMa, St Ann's Warehouse -- Puppet Lab in '14, as well as Governors Island/ Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Process Space in '14.
Author Abby Felder works in PGEC in script development, dramaturgy, costumes, masks and puppets for productions/installations at La MaMa, St. Ann's Warehouse, Incubator Arts Project, Goethe Institut, and Chashama. She has worked at Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre, Czechoslovak American Marionette Theatre, EST, HERE, Concrete Temple, and others. She is co-Founder and Producing Director of Asheville Creative Arts, Western North Carolina's only professional Children's Theater, and Managing Director at Pan Asian Rep. She has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College where she studied puppetry with Dan Hurlin and Theatre Outreach with Shirley Kaplan, and completed an apprenticeship with puppet artists, Frantisek Watzl, and wood carver Vaclav Krcal in the Czech Republic.
Director Gian Marco Lo Forte is a New York-based director and writer creating live art experiences that draw inspiration from documentary and contemporary technology. Gian Marco is artist-in-residence at La MaMa where he founded Pioneers Go East Collective. Gian Marco has developed and directed original works with PGEC presented at La MaMa (S 16 - Luna Nera; I Fioretti in Musica); at St. Ann's Warehouse-Puppet Lab, at Governors Island/ Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Process Space residency (Hildegard (vision)); Incubator Arts Project (7AM; Maria Celeste Galileo); Chashama/ Harlem Gallery, and Goethe Institut ("The Birds and The Wolf"). His directing and design work presented in NYC: Dixon Place; New Dance Alliance/ Performance Mix; Galapagos; HERE; Art on Air and he designed for Operating Theatre; May Adrales; Edward Einhorn; Ernest Abuba; Tisa Chang; Ellen Stewart. Gian Marco and Abby Felder are affiliate artists with the New Victory Labworks program 2015/16.

John Sully is a NYSCA awarded composer, sound designer, multimedia artist and multi-instrumentalist from New York City. His music for stage and film has crossed the globe including Europe, Asia, Australia, and North and South America. As the resident composer for "Temporary Distortion," Sully has created the music and sound designs for the stage productions, "One Will Speak/The Other Is Dead," "Welcome To Nowhere," "Americana Kamikaze," and "New York Land," as well as the video installation "An Instrument For The Measure Of Absence." This fall he will be in residency at EMPAC-The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center. Also his latest work with Temporary Distortion's "My Voice Has An Echo In It" was presented at VIA & EXIT Festival International in France and PS 122's COIL festival 2015. 

Ellen Fisher is a choreographer and performance artist whose work combines gestural actions with visual components such as film, shadow play, objects and puppets. Fisher's performance work is informed by ethnographic research in trance dance and rituals of South Asia, particularly Sri Lanka where she received a Fulbright in 2013. She has received funding for her solo work from NEA, NYFA, Jerome Foundation and others. Fisher began performing with Meredith Monk/The House in the '70s, and continues today. She continues to teach and collaborate with artists on community intergenerational and intercultural projects, both domestically and internationally.

The PGEC & "Hildegard (vision)" creative team includes Gian Marco Lo Forte (concept/direction & production design), Abby Felder (concept/ writer/ puppetry), John Sully (concept/ composition & sound design), Ellen Fisher (choreography), Juan Merchan (lighting design), Kathryn Lieber (video design), musical direction by Kamala Sankaram, and dramaturgy by Allison Curseen. The piece includes assistant directors Nadja Leonhard-Hooper and Penelope Luksic, and puppet construction by Ashanti Coombs-Ziths.
"Hildegard (vision)" features performers/musicians Marina Celander (Hildegard); Nehprii Amenii (Richardis, a young Nun and Hildegard's protégé/ dog in the vision play); Seth Gilman (tenor/ Volmar, Hildegard's secretary and confidant), Kamala Sankaram (soprano /pre-recorded songs of Hildegard's medieval music); Tali Custer (pig in the vision play) Daniel Diaz (lion in the vision play).
Post-Show Talk Backs:
Sat, Dec. 5- A conversation with Pioneers Go East Collective artists and creative team
Fri, Dec. 11- Women, Performance and Spirituality  moderated by Dr. Allison Curseen, Poet and Assistant Professor of English at Baruch College; Dr. Jill Stevenson, Associate Professor of Theater Arts at Marymount Manhattan College; and  Dr. Jennifer Brown, Associate Professor of English and World Literatures at Marymount Manhattan College.
And Special Gala Event:
Fri Dec 4- a festive fundraiser with post-show reception and chance to mingle with the artists, open to the public, tickets begin at $50.

La MaMa presents Pioneers Go East Collective's "Hildegard (vision)" from Dec. 3-20 at La MaMa First Floor Theatre, 74A East 4th Street between 2nd and Bowery. Tickets are $18 (adult), $13 (student) with 10 tickets at $10 available in advance on a first come, first served basis for each performance, excluding Dec 4 Gala for which all tickets begin at $50.

For tickets or information, call 646-430-5374 or visit https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/949642.


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