Thursday, March 21, 2019

One Theatre World Master Class: Pig Iron Theatre

Who is really excited about attending  TYA/USA’s biggest event-One Theatre World today  in conjunction with Cleveland’s Playhouse Square and their acclaimed International Children’s Festival?   Who is crushed that you can’t make it this year?

Well to whet your appetite (or to rub it in that you aren’t in Cleveland this week), David Kilpatrick and Alicia Lark Fuss interviewed the keynote speakers and master class facilitators.   Excerpts from the interviews are in TYA Today.  Here is the entire interview.

Pig Iron Theater is leading a Master Class

Pig Iron Theater OTW

1)      What is the first play you remember seeing that made an impression?

When I was a teenager we often traveled from the Bay Area to Ashland Oregon to visit to the Shakespeare Festival there.  Year by year you saw the same actors transforming into wildly different roles in an incredible setting.  I saw two productions that will stick with me forever and opened my eyes to the art of acting.  The first was a production of Cyrano and the second was a production of THE ICEMAN COMETH.  I entered into two worlds, was taken outside of myself for 3-5 hours and understood something about the beauty and pain of the human experience in both.  The actors had presence, they were simple but iconic somehow.  They could do very little and I leaned in to be near them, to let their pain be my pain.  It was “immediate theatre” as Peter Brook would describe it.  I think, subtly, I also began to formulate some ideas about ensemble work when seeing this company of actors working together.  The ensemble in ICEMAN was extraordinary, like different players in a symphony.

2)      What upcoming project(s) are you most excited about in 2013?

I am really intrigued to see The Elevator Repair Service’s ARGUENDO when it is finally ready for a full production.  This company has such a strong sense of theatrical possibilities.  They are playful and deeply intelligent at the same time.  I have an artistic crush on them.  I am also really excited to see Romeo Castellucci’s production, ON THE CONCEPT OF THE FACE, at PEAK Performance at Montclair State University.  This will be the American premiere of this provocative Italian’s work.  It is rare that his work is seen in America but he is regarded as one of the most important theatre artists in Europe at the moment.  His work is difficult, sometimes hard to watch.  But it sticks with you; the productions work on you over a long period of time after the curtain falls.  For me this is what the ephemeral nature of theatre can do well; it can leave a mirage, a puzzle, for the audience to wrangle with well after you’ve left the space.

3)      If you could have a coffee (or an adult beverage) with someone in or related to the field of TYA (living or deceased), who would it be and why?

I’d love to have coffee with Michael Sommers who lives in Minneapolis.  He and Jeune Lune co-created an adaptation of THE JUNIPER TREE back in the 90’s that was one of the most magical pieces for young audiences I have seen.  The kids (and adults) took their shoes off when entering the theatre and were led into the most imaginative journey with puppets and live actors.  Sommers’ design was pitch-perfect; in no way did this production dumb things down for the audience.  Rather, the production tapped into big mysteries and questions that engaged the kids far more than plays that simply entertain.  When the children left, their shoes had been filled with small presents, a beautiful end to this engaging piece.  I’d love to talk to Michael about his work and how he thinks about young and older audiences, what stories he is drawn to and how theatre can ask more questions than it answers, especially for young audiences who sense of wonder is still intact.

4)      What advice would you give to a graduating student seeking to enter this field?

Make connections with folks who have carved out their path in this field in a manner that seems thrilling to you and whose work you deeply admire AND get yourself out there presenting YOUR work.  In this field you learn by doing, by performing and listening to the audience.  If you’re not getting cast, cast yourself!  Break a few rules and you’ll begin to understand what rules are important and what rules only uphold the status quo.  Make the theatre that you want to see.  Be vigilant about making work of the highest quality.  Find collaborators who you can play with, who can play with you, who challenge assumptions but can also understand how to create momentum in a rehearsal room rather than blocking momentum.

5)      What are you most excited about regarding attending One Theatre World?

Seeing and hearing about work that I’m unfamiliar with and meeting fellow travelers who have optimism and passion about the evolution of this artform.

Gabriel Quinn Bauriedel is a co-founder and Co-Artistic Director of the OBIE Award-winning Pig Iron Theatre Company. Since 1995, Quinn and the company have created 25 original works of theatre, touring them to venues and festivals in Brazil, Germany, Scotland, England, Romania and Poland, among others. He has directed, designed and performed with the company since its inception. Quinn was a Henry Luce Fellow in Bali, Indonesia in 2000-2001 and was a Pew Fellow in Performance Art from 2002-2004. In 2007, he received one of 6 national Fox Foundation Actor Fellowships. He teaches at Swarthmore College, Princeton University and at the Headlong Performance Institute.

Since its founding in 1995, Philadelphia’s Pig Iron Theatre Company has emerged as one of the most daring theatre ensembles in America.  Under co-artistic directors Quinn Bauriedel, Dan Rothenberg, and Dito van Reigersberg, the company has created over 25 original works, spanning biography and dreams, neuroscience and the afterlife.

All of Pig Iron’s work is rooted in an ongoing study of character and a close attention to performers’ contact with the audience. Pig Iron begins each original work with focused improvisation and explorations of acting states; the characters and dramatic structure for each piece develop alongside a collaborative script-writing process.  Despite exploring diverse themes and modes of expression, Pig Iron’s works share a deep investment in the technical and visual world of each piece, a highly-crafted physical performance style, and a trademark sense of humor.
The company has toured extensively in the U.S. and abroad, including performances at the Under the Radar Festival in New York, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and Poland’s Theatre Confrontations Festival. Pig Iron has taught its unusual approach to performance and creation at theaters and universities in Europe, the U.S., and South America.  In 2011, Pig Iron launched a two-year graduate program in physical, ensemble-created theater in their hometown of Philadelphia.
Pig Iron’s original creations have been the recipients of two OBIE Awards, a Total Theatre Award at the Edinburgh Fringe, six Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre (and 40 nominations), and a listing as one of the top 10 productions of the year in The New York Times. Pig Iron’s Quinn Bauriedel, Dan Rothenberg, and Dito van Reigersberg have been jointly awarded a Pew Fellowship in the Arts (2002) and a USA Knight Fellowship (2010).

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