Stairway to Stardom is a multi-media infused original dance-theatre work created by writer, director, and choreographer Amanda Szeglowski and her all-female company, cakeface.
With crackling wit and startling honesty, it is a silver-sequined dissection of the American Dream. Synthesizing razor-sharp choreography and a poker-faced delivery of original text, the cast shatters the facade of "making it." Featuring live-mixed sound and visuals from electronic duo Prism House and clips from the 80s cult public access tv show of the same name, Stairway to Stardom honors the contributions of the wildly passionate but questionably talented among us.
Described by NPR as "an amateur talent show many see as a low-rent precursor to American Idol,” “Stairway to Stardom,” which aired on public-access television in New York City from 1979 to the early 1990s, was filmed "in what appeared to be a freshly carpeted Staten Island basement.” Host Frank Masi would bring on amateur singers, dancers, actresses, and comedians to show off their questionable talents. The drive and emotion behind these performers’ eyes is palpable, and yet, watching them you know they never achieved the success to which they strived. This piece endeavors to ask, “What happened?”
The world premiere will be September 12-23, 2017 at HERE Arts Center in New York City.
cakeface's projects contemplate the uncomfortable through the use of grim themes and an inherently wry female wit. Creative Loafing recently called our work “as disturbing as it is delightful" and Culturebot nailed it with “Think Monica Bill Barnes for the Amy Schumer Generation,” in their 2015 article, Eight Reasons cakeface’s Harold, I Hate You Is Your New Favorite Downtown Dance/Theater Piece.
Performed by five fearless dance artists: Ali Castro, Jade Daugherty, Ayesha Jordan, Nola Sporn Smith, and Amanda Szeglowski, Stairway to Stardom has an exceptional creative team.
The cast inhabits a pristine white space with a lacquered white floor: a massive box-like structure with distorted perspective as if it is coming towards the audience. The expansive design, created by architect Aviva Novick, draws viewers into a surreal meta-world.
Glamorous costumes by Oana Botez juxtaposed against the imminent failure of the subjects hint at an ultra-modern interpretation of the meaning of “talent.”
The lighting, designed by Amanda K. Ringger, frames the environment by building atmospheric sensations and mood-altering designs, and the immersive visuals, by Matt O’Hare (one half of electronic duo Prism House), incorporate original video content that spotlights vintage clips from the television show to cement the conceptual landscape.
Composer Brian Wenner (the other half of Prism House) is crafting an original electronic score, based on sampled noise sourced from the internet. The evolving ambient soundscape underscores the combination of highly physical choreography and cakeface’s signature style of text delivery, a sophisticated vocal style where each artist has specific tempos, rhythms, repetitions, overlaps, and algorithmic parameters to follow when delivering their lines.
SUPPORT THUS FAR
Stairway to Stardom has been commissioned, developed and will be produced through the HERE Artist Residency Program. We were generously given three years of support to develop this work at HERE’s home in Soho, New York City. Additionally, I am a recipient of the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation's Women Playwrights Commissioning program for Stairway to Stardom. This work has also been supported in part by Marble House Project, a not-for profit organization.
HELP US MAKE IT
We are asking for $11,000 to help Stairway to Stardom get its sparkle on.
The $11,000 is to pay the artists what they deserve, to pay the crew for their skilled labor, and to cover expenses for the set materials. If we exceed this goal – we get to make our wildest dreams come true – a more expansive set, costume changes, greater pay for the artists and crew, and 8+ hours of sleep at night.
If we don’t reach our goal we forfeit EVERYTHING. Kickstarter is all or nothing, so your help is critical!
In addition, cakeface and HERE Arts Center are not for profit organizations. HERE is a fully registered 501(c)(3), and we will be sending out emails with tax-deductible donation letters to each supporter.
The crux of my work as an artist is representing marginalized communities. Stairway to Stardom gives voice to a vast and varied population of have-nots and challenges our societal beliefs of who - if anyone - can “make it”. Ironically, this piece has become our company’s own chance to “make it.” With 10 performances at HERE Arts Center’s 100-seat Mainstage theater, Stairway is our most ambitious production to date. HERE’s longstanding status as a disrupter in the downtown theatre world will guarantee this show the industry, patron, and press attention it deserves. And with full marketing, development and producorial support, Stairway to Stardom is positioned to be our breakthrough work.
Risks and challenges
We've spent 3 years developing this work. It's the biggest thing we've ever done and your support will make it spectacular!
Photos by Benjamin Heller and Theodore Samuels.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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