Waiting in the Ninth Ward for Godot
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CREATIVE TIME PRESENTS PAUL CHAN'S
WAITING FOR GODOT IN NEW ORLEANS
Creative Time is pleased to announce the presentation of Waiting for Godot in New Orleans, a project by Paul Chan, co-produced by Creative Time with curator Nato Thompson and The Classical Theatre of Harlem with director Christopher McElroen.
• Free public performances of Samuel Beckett's play Waiting for Godot
• Theater workshops, educational seminars, and community conversations and dinners
• A "shadow" fund putting funding back into the city
• A publication and a short film
* Wendell Pierce, New Orleans born and nationally recognized actor
* New Orleans Universities, including The University of New Orleans, Xavier University , Dillard University
* New Orleans High Schools, including NOCCA High School, Lusher High School, Frederic Douglass High School, John McDonough High School
* New Orleans Neighborhood organizations, including Students at the Center, Neighborhood Story Project, The Porch, Renaissance Project
When and Where:
November 2nd and 3rd (Friday and Saturday)
Lower Ninth Ward
At the intersection of Forstall St and North Roman St
November 9th and 10th (Friday and Saturday)
At the intersection of Pratt Dr and Robert E. Lee Blvd
"It was unmistakable. The empty road. The bare tree leaning precariously to one side with just enough leaves to make it respectable. The silence. What's more, there was a terrible symmetry between the reality of New Orleans post-Katrina and the essence of this play, which expresses in stark eloquence the cruel and funny things people do while they wait: for help, for food, for hope. It was uncanny. Standing there at the intersection of North Prieur and Reynes, I suddenly found myself in the middle of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot."
- Paul Chan
For the past nine months, Paul Chan has worked with New Orleanian artists, activists, and organizers to formalize the shape of the play and broaden the social scope of the project. Visiting New Orleans for the first time in November 2006, the artist was struck by the disquieting stillness: no hammer sounds banging in the distance, no construction crews yelling to one another, no cranes visible on the skyline. His immediate response to the city was to imagine an outdoor performance of Samuel Beckett's legendary play, Waiting for Godot. "The longing for the new is a reminder of what is worth renewing. Seeing Godot embedded in the very fabric of the landscape of New Orleans was way of re-imaging the empty roads, the debris, and, above all, the bleak silence as more than the expression of mere collapse," stated Chan. This production continues the presentation of the play in politically charged environments, including San Quentin prison (1957), a performance directed by Susan Sontag in wartorn Sarajevo (1993), and Classical Theatre of Harlem's post-Katrina inspired production featuring New Orleans native Wendell Pierce in Harlem (2006).
As an arts organization that for 33 years has enlivened public space in NYC and challenged the notion of what art can be, Creative Time immediately signed on to present this project in New Orleans and launch its national program. "We traveled with Paul Chan to lay the groundwork with the goal to involve and benefit the local community in all facets of the production. Meetings were held with neighborhood groups and individuals to listen to concerns, learn from their insights, and adapt planning with their challenging advice," stated Anne Pasternak, President and Artistic Director, Creative Time. "More than a play, the work is a socially engaged performance at the heart of a national crisis," added Nato Thompson, Curator and Producer, Creative Time.
Paul Chan is currently in New Orleans teaching contemporary art seminars, open to the public, at Xavier University and The University of New Orleans for the fall semester. In October, members of The Classical Theatre of Harlem will be conducting acting workshops with high schools and community groups, and a series of potluck dinners and conversations, with the producers and cast, will be held in different neighborhoods. A "shadow" fund, matching the production budget dollar-for-dollar, will be given to local organizations for rebuilding efforts in neighborhoods where the play is presented.
Experimental and avant-garde filmmaker Cauleen Smith is creating a new short film in New Orleans - part fantasy, part documentation - as part of the Waiting for Godot in New Orleans project. In addition, Creative Time Books will release Waiting: a New Orleans Reader, to be distributed with D.A.P., and host events with the artists in NYC in early spring 2008.
The cast features actors based in New Orleans , found through open auditions, working with actors from The Classical Theatre of Harlem who performed in the New York City presentation of Waiting for Godot in 2006. The character "Boy" will be played by 4 different boys, one for each of the four performances.
Cast: Wendell Pierce ( Vladimir ), J Kyle Manzay (Estragon), T. Ryder Smith (Pozzo), Mark McLaughlin (Lucky).
Working in a variety of mediums, Paul Chan has achieved international acclaim for his drawings, installations, and animated digital projections that incorporate philosophical reflections on politics, war, and life. Chan's work has been exhibited worldwide including recent solo exhibitions at: Serpentine Gallery, London (2007); Stedelijk Museum , Amsterdam (2007); Institute of Contemporary Art , Boston (2005); UCLA Hammer Museum , Los Angeles (2005). He has also worked with the Nobel peace prize nominated aid group Voices in the Wilderness (with whom he spent an unsanctioned month in Iraq ) and designed The People's Guide to the Republican National Convention. Chan's work will be exhibited at the New Museum, New York, in spring 2008.
CLASSICAL THEATRE OF HARLEM
Classical Theatre of Harlem (CTH), a nonprofit theatre company, was founded in 1999 by Christopher McElroen and Alfred Preisser. In each of its productions--which have included numerous works by Shakespeare, a new stage adaptation of Richard Wright's Native Son, Melvin Van Peebles' Ain't Supposed To Die A Natural Death and Jean Genet's seminal political drama, The Blacks: A Clown Show--the Classical Theatre of Harlem is dedicated to producing theatre that truly reflects the diversity of ideas and racial tapestry of America. In 2006, CTH staged a post-Katrina production of Waiting for Godot hailed as "bracing and immediate ... A thrilling new Godot for our times" by TimeOut NY. Their long list of awards includes 5 OBIE Awards, 2 Lucille Lortel Awards, Drama Desk Award, Edwin Booth Award for Artistic Excellence, among many others.
Creative Time launches its national public art program with Waiting for Godot in New Orleans. Based in New York , the non-profit public arts organization, has presented innovative art for the past three decades. It works with artists and audiences to explore ideas that shape society to ensure that art remains a meaningful part of society, available and relevant to millions of people beyond differences of race, class, religion, or culture. Recent projects include Tribute in Light, which served as a gesture of hope and healing after 9/11; Doug Aitken: Sleepwalkers, a film projected on the Museum of Modern Art, NY; and Who Cares, a series of projects that explored art and social action.
Creative Time is grateful for the incredible generosity of The Annenberg Foundation and The Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Arts.
Executive Producers: Astrup Fearnley Museet for Moderne Kunst, Dathel and Tommy Coleman, Bilge and Haro Cumbusyan , Beth Rudin DeWoody, Cristina Enriquez-Bocobo, Ruth U. Fertel Foundation, Carol and Arthur Goldberg, Anthony J. Gordon, Peggy Jacobs, Dakis Joannou, Liz Kabler, Randy Slifka, and Amanda Weil.
Donors: Bryan W. Bailey and Family, Zoe and Joel Dictrow, Marieluise Hessel and Ed Artzt, Shulamit and Jehuda Reinharz, Raphael Sassower, Kerry Scharlin and Peter Klosowicz, Donna and Benjamin Rosen, Debra and Dennis Scholl, Judith L. Sollott , David Teiger, Lisa and Jeff Thorp, and United Aid Foundation.
Creative Time gratefully acknowledges public funding from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; the New York State Council on the Arts, a State agency; New York City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn; and State Senator Thomas K. Duane.
Special thanks to Carol Greene at Greene-Naftali Gallery and Loews New Orleans Hotel.
Arts Council of New Orleans
818 Howard Avenue, Suite 300
New Orleans, LA 70113
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