Archives for June 2009
The New York Times had a great review and a little slide-show about Church from when it was in NYC at PS122. The audio/photo bit is great because Young Jean Lee talks about her personal experience with religion a bit. (Once you go here, click on “LEE” to skip to her part.)
Here’s an excerpt from the review:
People of faith are often treated as either jokes or villains in the downtown theater scene, but that may be starting to change.
Still, most seasoned audiences would expect that a drama by an experimental playwright at Performance Space 122 featuring four ministers discussing God’s glory is inviting smirks. But Young Jean Lee, who wrote and directed “Church,” isn’t joking — or if she is, the joke is on us. Her slyly subversive drama ambushes its audience with an earnest and surprisingly moving Christian church service that might be the most unlikely provocation produced in years.
With a cast of speakers, Ms. Lee, described in the press materials as a nonbelieving daughter of Korean-American evangelicals, portrays the kind of Christians secular downtown hipsters may find hard to dismiss: open-minded, liberal, tolerant.
“I don’t know that God exists any more than I know that God doesn’t exist,” says José (Greg Hildreth), a cerebral minister who mocks the arm-flailing brand of preacher sent up by the performance artist Reverend Billy. “The truth is that the world is a mystery.”
Here’s what playwright Young Jean Lee’s website has to say about her play Church
“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Playwright and director Young Jean Lee transforms her life-long struggle with Christianity into an exuberant church service designed to test the expectations of the religious and non-religious alike. Using music, dancing, and preaching, four liberal Evangelical Christian ministers with a taste for the surreal offer God as a solution to the hollowness of contemporary life.
“[Young Jean Lee’s] slyly subversive drama [CHURCH] ambushes its audience with an earnest and surprisingly moving Christian church service that might be the most unlikely provocation produced in years.” – The New York Times
Acacia and I saw Young Jean Lee’s own production of the show in January 2008, and the Public Theatre as part of the NYC Under the Radar Festival. Interestingly, the premiere of the show, at PS122, was supported in part by our very own Wexner Center for the arts.
PALAST, I DON’T KNOW WHETHER TO KISS YOU OR CURSE YOU.
You have made me swallow the blue pill and there is no going back. Your amazing, mind-blowing, literate and disturbingly funny account of what has happened to this country has left me dizzy. I am grateful for the knowledge and understanding. But I am crushed by the sheer weight of it all. Now having a greater understanding, I must begin to find ways to help it recover – if it can. Thanks for f#@king up my life.
With respect and gratitude,
(a.k.a. George of Seinfeld)
“some of the sadness that it seems to me kind of infuses the culture right now has to do with this loss of purpose or organizing principles, something you’re willing to give yourself away to, basically”
“I think it’s hard to talk smartly about it. It seems to me that most of the stuff in my own life and in my friends’ life that’s interesting and true involves double binds or setups where you’re given two alternatives which are mutually exclusive and the sacrifices involved in either seem unacceptable. I mean … I mean, one of the big ones is, the culture places a huge premium on achievement. I mean, I went to like this real hoity-toity college and, as you know, and everybody’s like now a millionaire on Wall Street. Anyway — how both to work hard enough and invest enough of yourself really to achieve something and yet retain the sort of integrity so that you’ve got a self apart from your achievement. I mean, even something as banal as, you know, The modern woman can have it all: she can
have a family and a deep fulfilling relationship with her children while being, you know, a CEO of a successful company. I mean, it’s as if the culture is some Zen teacher, you know, whacking us no matter what we do. It’s very interesting. I’m not really quite sure why we set it up that way. I’m also — I gotta tell you, I’m worried these answers are just sounding totally insane. They’re great questions, but it just seems to me like a lot of this is stuff that we could talk about for three hours.”
Young Jean Lee’s own company performed Church in Minneapolis at the Walker Art Center in January of 2009. Here she talks to Performing Arts curator Philip Bither about the her work.
Columbus Alive – Words communicate and conceal, profane and protect.
After Jenny Schwartz’s God’s Ear has flowed from Available Light Theatre’s lips to the audience’s ears, after its words have done all that and more, the enthralled observer will finally lean back and wonder how it was done.
The Other Paper – It somehow makes sense
Despite spouting dialogue that often consists of non-sequiturs, Available Light’s production of God’s Ear is surprisingly accessible. Playwright Jenny Schwartz’s words tumble through the air like trapeze artists working without a net, but we still “get” the story about a couple reeling from the loss of a child.
Indie Columbus – Words In Action At Available Light
As someone who once sustained herself on a steady diet of theatre and who now walks around relatively ignorant of such things, I’m glad to be involved again, even from the outside looking in. And I feel it’s only my duty to ask that Columbus wake up and smell the fresh dramaturgy on tap and flowing freestyle at Available Light Theatre.
Every night at the talkback for “God’s Ear” somebody asks, “Who wrote the songs?” So here ya go.
His name is Michael Friedman. He’s written songs or incidental music for a ton of off- and off-off- Broadway plays, including a couple of musicals. One of those is an adaptation of the movie Saved.
I found this article from the NY Times. It’s really good, though it’s 2 years old, so it’s missing a lot of his more recent credits, including God’s Ear.
So, here’s an excerpt and a link.
It has been said about the composer and lyricist Michael Friedman that he can do a little bit of everything. And judging by his current to-do list, it’s true.
A member of the highly regarded downtown theater troupe the Civilians, Mr. Friedman is hanging out these days in Colorado Springs with eight members of the group, writing songs for a theater piece about evangelicals in America. On a recent 24-hour visit to New York he talked over a quick lunch in Greenwich Village about being “terrible at time management” and ending up “overly busy because I get excited by things and can’t say no.”
If you’re interested in that Civilians show, I can tell you it’s really great. We saw it at the Humana Festival. You can watch a little video here.
“Available Light Theatre has God’s Ear Tonight” – Columbus Underground
“Taking a non-sequitur approach to tragedy” – The Other Paper
“Available Light Theatre navigates ‘land of loss’ in GOD’S EAR” – Columbus Dispatch
“So, GI Joe, the Tooth Fairy and Eleni Papaleonardos walk into a theater…” – The Columbus Experience
We’re blowin-up the Twitter too. Check out …
I have it on good authority that God’s Ear is a wonderful play. Check it out.
this looks like a great production from available light theatre. support local theatre!
If you haven’t had any theatre in your life lately, get to available light right now and see gods ear. It’s really great. Seriously. GO!!
Going to see this play tonight with the Bear.