Just a quick note and a couple pics to say RoosevElvis rehearsals have begun at the Bushwick Starr in Brooklyn. Kristen, Libby, Jake M., Matt, Tater Dave, and I have been working in the beautiful upstairs room since Thursday. Nick was with us on the first day gathering images. Our assistant director Kevin Hourigan has been gathering footage of eccentric exercises for Teddy, and Starr assistants Rachel and Eileen have been transcribing the work Kristen and Libby are doing.
There’s a lot we still don’t know about the two men. We’ve watched a number of Elvis documentaries (best thus far was Elvis ’56). Now onto Love Me Tender. Workshop is Monday June 4th. Then London…
The TEAM is proud to announce our Spring 2012 Online Auction via Bidding for Good!
You could win a week at a beach house, a ski-getaway only 90 min from NYC, a day with a professional designer re-envisioning your home and wardrobe (plus a gift card), or a couple stunning pieces of visual art.
It’s gonna be a hot time in the old town tonight: Come eat and drink like Elvis, play poker, dance, and support the development of 5 new works, including: RoosevElvis, Primer for a Failed Superpower, and Waiting for You on the Corner of […]
TICKETS: $100 – MVP
Best Bang for Your Buck
Include a pre-party dinner plus wine at hot LES restaurant, The Fat Radish
(“You’d be a regular if you could.”—NY Times)
PLUS Unlimited drinks and snacks at the party itself
$50 – TEAM Player
A Fantastic Way to Show Your Support
Unlimited drinks and snacks at the party
A limited number of $30 tickets are available for students and artists.
Doors open at 8pm
MVP dinner begins at 6:30pm
SPLURGING ENCOURAGED! We need your support. There will also be plenty of chances to give (big & small) during the party.
What do the National Theatre (London), the Edinburgh International Festival, Kansas City Repertory, and Brooklyn’s Bushwick Starr have to do with each other?
They’re all a part of the TEAM’s 2012-2013 activities!!!
The TEAM is Jess [Almasy], Frank [Boyd], Rachel [Chavkin], Stephanie [Douglass], Jill [Frutkin], Brian [Hastert], Jake [Heinrichs], Matt [Hubbs], Libby [King], Nate [Koch], Jake [Margolin], Dave [Polato], Kristen [Sieh], and Nick [Vaughan]
Rachel will be speaking about “the Intersection of Art, Money, and Politics” at the LMCC’s upcoming Access Restricted panel on Wednesday April 11th at 7pm.
Event Description: The intersection of Broad and Wall, where Federal Hall sits across from the New York Stock Exchange, serves as a physical representation of the proximity of money and politics throughout the history of Lower Manhattan. This discussion will explore the complicated and often fraught relationship between art, money and politics, the semiotics of dissent and how this is represented in the current moment.
During the final week of the Mission Drift run in New York City, Heather Christian and I went over to the NPR Studios. We were both extremely excited, but Heather can testify to the fact that my face almost shattered I was so giddy. With eyes wide we followed Margot Adler as she gave us a tour of the studio. Almost everyone was out to lunch, but it didn’t matter. I saw the desk of Robert Krulwich. And we even waved at Zoe Chace and Chana Joffe-Walt from Planet Money.
We sat down with Margot and discussed the work, which she’d seen previously.
CLICK HERE to listen to the awesome story that she put together.
Over the past 2 years I’ve been one of the representatives from the devised theatre world at the American Voices New Play Institute’s Convenings (along with rainpan 43, SITI Company, Sojourn Theatre, Universes, Tectonic, the Rude Mechs, the Civilians, Pig Iron, and a TON more producers, individual devising artists, and ensembles – check out list HERE). The primary takeaways from that convening: theatre institutions have so many more resources than they think they do for devising artists, and it’s not all about money – think unused space, scene and costume shops, etc.; the devised theatre world is happily (and sometimes grumpily) defined by its DIY aesthetic and so any co-productions with institutions need to be crafted to preserve this impulse and way of working; none of us are able or much interested in creating a narrow definition of devised theatre. The initial Devised Theatre convening was a chance to discuss the challenges and practices of this work with a group often spread out and working hard on its own stuff, and as a small step towards the (slow) process of American theatres accepting this broad spectrum of work into the general new play/work conversation.
This weekend I attended a convening on “the 21st century Literary Office.” I believe I was the only devising artist there, and there were only a few playwrights, so artist representation in general was low, though not the focus. Dramaturgs and literary managers from around the country discussed the state of their field amidst changing technologies, the possibility of partnering and linking resources through a national database (controversial), the sprawl of the office’s tasks – from connectivity to script reading and season planning, and the role of the dramaturg/literary office in preserving the intellectual integrity of a theatre. Devised theatre seemed essentially nonexistent in this conversation. Our plays/productions/works/pieces are not to be found in the “piles” covering the desks and floors of literary offices; our work doesn’t live on the page. This isn’t intended as a complaint. I’m not sure – despite the fact that the TEAM’s work is drenched in literary references, history, and hopefully reflects a high level of intellectual integrity – that we belong in a place called the “Literary” office. Devised theatre, as I practice it anyway, is in part a reaction to the idea that a play should be able to be understood/experienced through reading. The page doesn’t have Matty’s sound, Brian or Libby’s or Kristen’s or Jill’s or Jess’ or Frank’s or Jake’s inflection or movement, Nick’s eroding landscapes, etc. which all share equal weight with the words we’ve written. And I actually don’t think this is specific to devised theatre, and would imagine many playwrights feel this way (they do, right?). The conversation seems to be slowly arcing from “new plays” to “new work,” and I think the distinction between playwright-driven and devised work is an unhelpful, and implies a false divide that is likely limiting or insulting to both playwrights and devisers.
Conversation continues on NewPlayTV and the wonderful HowlRound – to which Polly Carl reminded me I owe an article! It’s in-process…
Here we are, a little past the halfway point of our 4-week NYC run. If you haven’t seen the show yet, or are wondering what your opinion of the show should be, here’s a roundup of some of the things that have been written about Mission Drift so far in the New York City press:
Of all of the art inspired by the global economic crisis, perhaps none is as lusty and energetic as Mission Drift, the new musical by New York theater company the TEAM.
There’s a lot about the company’s new project to take heedless, heady pleasure in… Pleasures aplenty.
The New York Times
Mission Drift examines heady concepts without ever losing its heart. Thanks to strong writing and powerful performances, the TEAM never forgets to have empathy for their subjects… Mission Driftcaptures the zeitgeist while daring to suggest hope for the future.
We are thrilled to have finally begun our run of at the Connelly Theater of Mission Drift! This show is over three years in the making, and it’s been the most thrilling and challenging process in our company’s life. We started with the question, “What defines American capitalism specifically?” As Brian beautifully described in an earlier blog, we did research of all shapes and sizes, including moving to Las Vegas for a month in June 2010.
We now invite YOU to join that conversation. We hope you can join us post-show in the Shining City, our bar at the Connelly (220 East 4th Street). But we also hope you’ll share your thoughts here, about the work’s themes.
Our company’s mission is to make new work about America in order to generate dialogue about the country’s past, present, and future. So here’s space! Some kickoff questions:
Do you think there’s something different about American capitalism vs. capitalism anywhere else?
What’s your favorite Las Vegas memory?
Tell us your favorite Western and why
Or share any other thoughts the show raised for you. We’re interested.
A lovely article about the catastrophic capitalism of Mission Drift in the official newspaper of capitalists everywhere, The Wall Street Journal. Here is a link to the WSJ website, but if for you non-subscribers the full text appears below:
Of all of the art inspired by the global economic crisis, perhaps none is as lusty and energetic as “Mission Drift,” the new musical by New York theater company the TEAM.
“Mission Drift” explores the ideas and economics of American capitalism through two interlocking stories that span nearly 400 years: that of an immortal teenage couple from Dutch New Netherland traversing time and space in the pursuit of progress, and that of a laid-off cocktail waitress in modern-day Las Vegas romanced by a cowboy figure who is actually part of a Native American tribe displaced by the creation of that city.
And did they mention it’s a musical? The centerpiece of “Mission Drift” is a 20-minute song, dance and action sequence that passes through three centuries of American history, connecting the characters in New Amsterdam and Las Vegas.
“That’s one of the things that defines the TEAM’s work: Often things are getting crashed into each other that have no business being together, and hopefully through the course of the play we make it make sense,” said Rachel Chavkin, the artistic director and one of six New York University alumni who founded the TEAM (which is short for Theatre of the Emerging American Moment) in 2004.
“Mission Drift,” the group’s seventh production, opens Sunday for a four-week run at the annual COIL theater festival at Performance Space 122 in the East Village, which co-commissioned the work with Culturgest in Lisbon, Portugal. The show made its premiere this summer in Europe, where it nabbed several awards at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
But bringing “Mission Drift” to New York, where the TEAM is based, has taken three years, some development twists and one financial crisis.
The company began writing the musical in the spring of 2008, with the intention of making a more fact-based work to explore “what defines American capitalism specifically, versus capitalism anywhere else,” Ms. Chavkin said. The group also wanted to incorporate the Western genre of cowboy novels and movies.
“We’re always looking at big conceptual questions but also different art forms or pieces of literature or movies we want to engage in some way,” she said. The TEAM’s last production, 2008’s “Architecting,” used the prism of “Gone With the Wind” to examine the ineffective reconstruction of post-Katrina New Orleans.
But as the TEAM convened to write “Mission Drift,” the financial crisis crashed down on its funding. The show was initially slated to launch in Edinburgh in 2010, but it was pushed to March 2011 at PS122, and then into 2012. But for a show about economics and its effect on culture, there was a silver lining.
“The economy collapsing in a big way was kind of the best possible thing to happen for the show, but also the worst possible thing to happen for the artists,” said TEAM member Brian Hastert. “What was a pretty condensed timeline for development became much longer. That was the underlying thing of the three-year development period: keeping our own feet to the fire when funding fell out from under us.”
It also led the company to shelve the fact-based approach in favor of myth-making and historical fiction. In the spring of 2009, Ms. Chavkin was introduced to “The Island at the Center of the World,” Russell Shorto’s account of 17th-century New Netherland. In the book, Mr. Shorto writes about two illiterate teenagers, Catalina Trico and Joris Rapalje, who were among the first European settlers in North America and parents to the first European baby born here; they are said to have upward of one million descendants in America. In “Mission Drift,” a fictionalized Catalina and Joris leave New Amsterdam and head west in pursuit of the American dream.
“Catalina and Joris gave us the opportunity to create our own kind of myth and explore what American capitalism is,” said Ms. King, who plays Catalina to Mr. Hastert’s Joris. “What would happen if we started in New Amsterdam and followed these characters in booms and busts across time and didn’t worry about the logistical problems of that in a story?”
“Mission Drift” is the TEAM’s first musical, but, in keeping with the company’s desire to engage different art forms, the songs aren’t necessarily narrative.
“The music functions almost as a beautiful space around the story and these moments of story that open up,” Ms. Chavkin said.
Composed by Heather Christian, the music is at times raucous and sly, at others mournful, fueled by gospel and blues. There are bugle calls and wild whoops and snatches of Elvis Presley’s “Viva Las Vegas.” Ms. Christian plays Miss Atomic, a showgirl Herodotus figure who narrates but also interacts with the other characters.
In writing for Joris and Catalina’s itinerant pursuit of the American dream—and the reality of recession for Las Vegans in 2008—she said she “wanted music to encapsulate this ecstasy and excitement of ‘next’ as well as the bereavement. That’s why it makes sense to make gospel music, even though it’s not dealing with religion or a direct relationship with God.”
Underlying issues to contemporary problems are discussed, but the TEAM does not purport to have answers. “One of the great things about this company is that they’re addressing the broader, philosophical questions we need to address,” said Vallejo Gantner, PS122’s artistic director. “All of the big questions, the ones that can’t be answered coherently—they’re right in that zeitgeist. They lay out a lot of the problems there, but they don’t tell us what we need to do.”
We are tremendously excited to announce that a new documentary which has followed the creation process for Mission Drift (its many MANY ups and downs) is now in the final stages of production. An amazing woman named Paulette Douglas traveled with us from New York to Las Vegas, from PS122 to our rehearsal studio in Brooklyn, from Portugal to Edinburgh, and she’s got it all. Us beginning work as the stock market collapsed. Choreography that has morphed over three years. Characters killed and resurrected.
It’s kind of wild, and I’m not sure any of us are emotionally ready to watch what has been the most intense learning process of our company’s life, but we are thrilled.