THESEUS, FROM ATHENS... GEORGIA, ACHIEVES REDEMPTION ON A HERO QUEST VIA A MID-LIFE CRISIS THAT LANDS HIM IN BELLEVUE'S NOTORIOUS PSYCH WARD. ALL WHILE HURRICANE SANDY RAGES THROUGH NEW YORK CITY.
Abrons Arts Center and Mark Dendy Projects present Labyrinth, a new dance-play by Obie and Bessie Award-winning choreographer Mark Dendy. A tragicomic, autobiographically inspired retelling of the Theseus myth, Dendy’s Labyrinth is set in present-day New York City and performed by a cast of four in multiple roles.
Performances run October 9–12 (Thursday–Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 5pm) and October 15–26 (Wednesday–Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 5pm), at Abrons Arts Center’s Underground Theater.
In Labyrinth, Dendy interweaves character portraiture, myth, autobiography, and fantasy. Set in New York City, with Theseus hailing from Athens, Georgia, and aided by a transgender Ariadne, the hero quest is given a picaresque spin. En route to choreograph a Rockettes number, an artistically conflicted Theseus washes down anti-anxiety pills with Absinthe just as Super-storm Sandy is approaching the city. His journey through the mythic labyrinth is peopled with a Jungian underworld of colorful, disenfranchised characters, and pits him against multiple forces including a mechanical bull at the Bellevue Psych Ward. With Dendy’s signature wit, intense physicality, and searing social commentary, Labyrinth explores a world of inner demons and, ultimately, redemption by way of midlife crisis. The play is performed by Mark Dendy, Heather Christian, Stephen Donovan, and Matthew Hardy, with sound, music, and video created live on stage by the performers amid an ever-changing set of found objects.
We have been working on Labyrinth for over three years and are now in our final weeks of rehearsal culminating in an October 9th premiere. During those years we have worked with a group of very talented performers during the development of this piece. Our newest addition is Heather Christian who will be performing original music live. We need your support to pay for a performers fees, a sound designer, a sound mixer, a technical director and a production assistant. Mounting a three week run in New York City is filled with financial challenges that include finding appropriate rehearsal space, hiring an expert technical crew that is costly and paying professional level fees to the performers. A press agent must also be engaged at a considerable fee as well promotional materials, sets, props, costumes, video equipment and designer fees. We receive the box office receipts but this projected figure combined with our private and public donations still requires $14,000 to be raised to cover all costs. We need your support!
Returning to MYTH is important in our culture because it is ancient. It lives in our bones and in our collective subconscious and is governed by universal laws. We're so outwardly focused in our culture - spread out horizontally - for instance the way the internet connects us but focuses us outward - and across time and space. We then need verticality to balance that - a verticality that goes deep and MYTH is that depth for me.
The hero quest is big picture stuff and we are each one of us on a hero quest to conquer our demons and experience redemption. Experiencing a post modern mythic ritual centers us and brings us closer to home in our selves and as a collective.
Labyrinth is Written, Directed and Choreographed by Mark Dendy
Original Music by Heather Christian
Lyrics by Heather Christian and Mark Dendy
Lighting Design by Jay Ryan
Video, Set, and Costume design by Stephen Donovan
Sound Design by Stowe Nelson
Dramaturgy by Tom Cole
Technical Artist Dave Pelato
Audio Engineer Erik Skovgaard
Wig Designer Torin
Fight Director Bryce Bermingham
Production Assistant Eli Mendoza
Press Agent Janet Stapleton
Mark Dendy - Theseus/Princess Pawnie Ariadne/Hannah/Daddy
Heather Christian - Still Small Voice/Night Club Singer/Gaia/Therapist
Stephen Donovan - The Shadow
Matthew Hardy - The Dark Companion/Bartender/Preacher/Gardener
Labyrinth was developed over the last two years at residencies and workshop performances in New York City at The Actors Fund Arts Center, DANCENOW at Joe's Pub, Danspace Project, Dixon Place, Dance From The Heart 2013: DRA at Cedar Lake Theatre, New Work/New York at Parkside Lounge, and at Barking Legs Dance Theater in Chattanooga, TN, Dance Place in Washington, D.C., and DANCENOW Silo in Bucks County, PA.
Tickets are $25 and are available through Abrons Arts Center’s box office at (212) 352-3101, or online at www.abronsartscenter.org. Tickets now on sale. Abrons Arts Center, 466 Grand Street (at Pitt Street), New York, NY 10002.
In 2008 Mark Dendy reevaluated his artistic journey and sought creative autonomy once again, focusing on large-scale site work, postmodern myth, social justice work and environmental advocacy. He rededicated himself to a daily physical practice in the studio, studied yoga and body mind centering. He rediscovered skeletal, deep tissue and release movement and began an exploration of gesture both in the abstract and as character driven. He has become increasingly interested in utilizing and juxtaposing seemingly disparate aesthetics to achieve a paradoxical whole, thereby assigning dramaturgical meaning to techniques that are normally viewed as totally abstract. Mark's current approach is a holistic one, focused not just on the work, but the life that is making it. Mark's work in politics, social justice and for the environment informs his work today. His work provides a window through which others may observe and participate in a challenge to current social norms with a focus on the gentrification of the artist in an age of too much information, too much technology, and not enough focus on the environment. Dendy's work is a personal dance theatre of corrosive satire, gender politics, OCCUPY sentiment and movement invention. His aesthetic embraces cabaret, drag, post-modern deconstruction, and a parody of show business and dance history. Mark is interested in a non-linear narrative construct informed by psychology; with emphasis on the dramaturgical empathic relationship between human beings as the "age of the individual" wanes.
Bryce Bermingham has choreographed the violence for musicals such as a national tour of The Scarlet Pimpernel, Beauty and the Beast and George Stiles’ The Three Musketeers and well as dozens of Shakespeare and modern theatre works. Recently he was the stunt coordinator for The House that Jack Built which premiered at the LA Film Festival. Bryce is a coordinator for the international stage combat workshop The Paddy Crean - www.paddycrean.com www.ludio.com
Heather Christian is the music brainchild of Heather Christian & the Arbornauts. She is the daughter of a blues musician and a go-go dancer from backwoods Mississippi and five of the most virtuosic boy prodigies she could find. Primarily known for her eccentric voice (“Christian howls like a werewolf with a voice made of molasses." ―Variety), she is part blues musician, part pixie, part old lady and pulls from the traditional gospel canon in tandem with circus music, noise rock, and good old fashioned feeling good. Christian and a multi-tasking brood of musical dandies (Sasha Brown, Matt Bogdanow, Chris Giarmo, Josh Myers and Jonathan Anderson) comprise their song set of dream hymns and odes to imaginary landscapes that reside somewhere between a vast theoretical sea and the deep American South.
Since 2002 Tom Cole has been the director of new project development at True Love Productions, where he has developed work with Sheila Callaghan, Craig Lucas, and Heidi Schreck, among others. He was the director of the Market Theater during its acclaimed inaugural seasons (2000–2002), where he worked on world premieres with various artists including David Mamet, Ricky Jay, Kate Robin, and Ping Chong. His work has been presented at Threadwaxing Space, Participant Inc, Art On Air, and The Clocktower Gallery. He is a MacDowell playwriting fellow. He curates Experiments and Disorders at Dixon Place.
Stephen Donovan studied contemporary art at Nottingham Trent University, UK, and was taught by Shelly Sacks, a former assistant to and student of Joseph Beuys. He moved to New York in 1999 and studied acting at The Strasberg Theatre Institute. He appeared in Comedians at La MaMa E.T.C and was a member of Mind The Gap Theatre Company. He was the costume designer for Desperate Writers (Union Square Theatre, Off- Broadway) and assistant director for Taboo (Broadway), where he met Mark Dendy. Donovan has collaborated with Dendy since 2004 when they co-wrote the book to Andru’s Head (NY Fringe) for which he also designed costumes and set. Most recently he appeared in Dendy’s Dystopian Distractions! at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara, for which he also designed the video, sound, and costumes.
Matthew Hardy has performed with the National Tour of Fosse, toured with Jane Comfort & Co., presented his own cabaret act entitled Songs for the Dysfunctional, and worked at many regional theaters across the nation. He is a proud member of Actors’ Equity, a graduate of the William Esper Acting Studio, and a member of The BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop. He has written the book and lyrics for the musical comedies Flambé Dreams, Bling!, and Ever Happily After.
Stowe Nelson is a Brooklyn-based sound designer who specializes in new and devised work. New York credits include:The Wayside Motor Inn (Signature); 16 Words or Less (Clubbed Thumb); Our New Girl (Atlantic Theatre Company); The Box (Foundry Theatre); Buyer & Cellar (Barrow St. Theatre); Take Me Home (Incubator Arts); WASPS (Studio 42);Phoebe in Winter (Clubbed Thumb); We Play for the Gods (Women's Project). His work has been seen regionally at Center Theatre Group, Geva Theatre Center, Everyman Theatre, Center Stage, Studio Theatre, ArtsEmerson, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Welfleet Harbor Actors Theatre and Totem Pole Playhouse.
Dave Pelato is a company member and Technical Artist of the TEAM. With them he has toured and helped create ‘Mission Drift’, ‘Architecting’, and ‘Particularly in the Heartland’. Dave has also had the opportunity to stage manage for the Rude Mechs, SITI Company, and Pig Iron, amongst others. Most recently at LCT3 with the Rudes and ‘Stop Hitting Yourself’.
Jay Ryan was the resident lighting designer at Dance Theater Workshop (DTW) from 1994 to 2005. At DTW he designed lights for hundreds of dance pieces and developed the Dance and Technology initiative. He has had the pleasure to work and tour the world with many wonderful people: Phoenix Theatre Ensemble, Big Dance Theater, H.T. Chen, Daniel Safer, Nami Yamamoto, Jeanine Durning, Sally Silvers, Mark Dendy Projects, John Jasperse, The Elementals and many others. He has designed lights at many theater spaces around the world. Ryan was nominated for a New York Innovative Theater Award for his lighting of Dancing Vs the Rat Experiment with WRC and received an Eva Adamson award for Excellence in Lighting Design in 2011. He is currently an adjunct professor at Montclair State University and Brooklyn College.
Erik Skovgaard is Brooklyn-based sound designer and recent graduate of Emerson College. New York credits include assistant design work for: Our New Girl (Atlantic Theater Company), The Essential Straight and Narrow (The Mad Ones), Buyer & Cellar (Barrow Street Theater), We Play For The Gods (Women's Project), Soul Doctor (NYTW). Regionally he as assisted at the American Repertory Theater, and ArtsEmerson.
Media contact: Janet Stapleton firstname.lastname@example.org. Digital photos are available upon request.
Labyrinth is made possible in part with public funds from the Manhattan Community Arts Fund, supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and administered by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and Dan and Dianne Vapnek Family Foundation and YOU our Kickstarter contributors.
MARK DENDY PROJECTS/Modern Myths Productions
Artistic Director - Mark DendyExecutive Director - Stephen Donovan
Mark Dendy is a sponsored artist with Performance Zone Inc (dba The Field), a not-for-profit, tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) organization serving the performing arts community. http://thefield.org/sa/549968
Risks and challenges
The biggest inherent risk is getting butts in seats every night. To break even requires a sold out house at each and every performance. There is stiff competition among alternative performance spaces for a finite amount of theatre goers.
In addition there are sure to be unforeseen last minute expenses especially where sets, lights and costumes are concerned.
The greatest risk is a making a work that appeals to the populace while maintaining experimental integrity.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (27 days)