THEATER by dfhdhdhdhjr


									                                                                                                        staged by 15 theater and dance groups in
                                                                                                        rooms and hallways throughout the floor. In
                                                                                                        all, the organizers estimate that 100 artists will
                                                                                                        take part in the event.
          THEATER                                                                                             As producers and de facto stage man-
                                                                                                        agers for the event, Lewis, Porter and Rowell
June 17-24, 2004                                                                                        certainly have their work cut out for them.

Space cases                                                                                             Prior to the show’s opening, a visit to the eerie,
                                                                                                        deserted office-floor performance found the
                                                                                                        three actors, writers and directors sitting amid
The scrappy and site-specific                                                                           a riot of chairs, curtains, video monitors, light-
                                                                                                        ing equipment, and innumerable unidentifi-
Peculiar Works Project loves                                                                            able props that artists had lugged to the space
making scenes in public By David Cote                                                                   to set up their stages and installations. Come
                                                                                                        opening night, the office (formerly housing
                                                                                                        the Teachers’ Retirement System of the City of
                                                                                                        New York) will be filled with dancers, actors
                                                                                                        and puppeteers, each contributing a fraction of
                                                                                                        the Quixote story to the evening. Participants
                                                                                                        include professionals like Michael John
                                                                                                        Garcés (Light Raise the Roof) and hot new
                                                                                                        director Alexandra Aron (Three Seconds in the
                                                                                                        Key), in addition to rising writers such as the
                                                                                                        award-winning fringe playwright Alec Duffy.
                                                                                                        Some rooms have been filled knee-deep in
                                                                                                        shredded paper; another is strewn with hay
                                                                                                        and Oriental carpets; yet another space con-
                                                                                                        tains schoolroom desk chairs and McDonald’s
                                                                                                        wrappers (the title of this rather freely adapted
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION Lewis, Porter, and Rowell, from left, get comfy
                                                                                                        segment is “The Tale of Our Hero’s Visit to a
in their (temporary) 30,000-square-foot theater in a Tribeca office building.                           McDonald’s Restaurant with His Trusty
                                                                                                        Squire, Sancho…”). A dance piece, augment-

              ost Off-Off Broadway groups                  Peculiar Works doesn’t have a monopoly       ed with puppetry, dramatizes the Don’s wind-
              would kill to have their own           on site-specific theater, whose roots go back to   mill jousts.
              space. Some, like GAle GAtes in        1960s happenings and the paratheatrical                  Given the diversity of styles, will the
              Dumbo and Chashama on 42nd             experiments of Jerzy Grotowski. More recent-       Quixote plot—supposedly the unifying thread
Street, luick out with donated real estate, but      ly, in the ‘80s and ‘90s, the group En Garde       in all this—become lost? Rowell, a playwright
both those locales were eventually sold to           Arts staged works by Reza Abdou and                himself, says that they still want to tell a story.
commercial interests, and the groups either          Jonathan Larson in the Meatpacking District        “There’s enough narrative to take you from
disbanded or relocated. The three artists            and Wall Street, respectively. And last year,      piece to piece, but some of it is more abstract,”
behind Peculiar Works Project, however, don’t        Lincoln Center presented Deborah Warner’s          he admits. “We try to keep it balanced. If you
want the financial burden of a venue. “It            The Angel Project, a city-wide spectacle that      like traditional performance, you’ll have
would have to be free,” group member Ralph           guided audience members through an aston-          something that you can hang your hat on; if
Lewis says. “If it meant having to pony up rent
every month, I’d much rather be a vagabond.”         “If it meant having to pony up rent every month,
      Nomadism has become the modus
operandi for Peculiar Works founders Lewis,
                                                     I’d much rather be a vagabond,” Lewis says.
Catherine Porter and Barry Rowell, who, for          ishing series of indoor and outdoor tableaux       you like it more abstract, you’ll have that as
years, have been finding nontraditional per-         from Roosevelt Island to Times Square, end-        well.”
formance spaces and mounting site-specific           ing in the Chrysler Building. Clearly, Peculiar         Mostly, though, the artists of Peculiar
theatrical events involving scores of artists.       Works operates on a fraction of Lincoln            Works just don’t want to be fenced in by the
“We know other companies who own space               Center’s budget, but it shares the same            typical 99-seat theater. “I hate black boxes!”
and spend so much time trying to rent it out,”       impulse: to make theatergoing an adventure.        Lewis cries with mock horror. “These shows
says Porter. “They become landlords, not                  The 11-year-old group’s latest venture is     are a way to not be trapped in a black box, and
artists. But also, aesthetically, we’re interested   In Praise of Folly: the Don Quixote Project,       just go wild.”
in “waking up” a space, turning it into some-        located on the sprawling 13th floor of a
thing you never would have guessed it could          Tribeca office building at 40 Worth Street.        In Praise of Folly: the Don Quixote
be. You step off the elevator and you’re into a      Miguel de Cervantes’ early-1600s novel has         Project is playing at 40 Worth Street.
surreal landscape.”                                  been broken up into 15-minute episodes             See Off-Off Broadway.

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