From 1804 to1806, Meriwether Lewis, along with William Clark and the Corps of
Discovery, journeyed across three thousand miles of uncharted territory from the
Missouri to the Pacific Ocean. He was a Renaissance man: explorer, military commander,
naturalist, geologist, astronomer, cartographer and writer. He embodied the best
and the worst of Jeffersonian America. Lewis was at once idealistic, inquisitive,
ingenious, confident, courageous, greedy, racist, and arrogant. On his return
from the triumphant expedition he became, at a young age, as famous as a modern
day rock-star, but he died, a probable suicide, three years after the Lewis and
Clark Expedition ended.
Bitterroot views Lewis’
life and adventures through the filter of a troupe of actors, Payne’s
Players, who in 1864 after the assassination of Lincoln are forced to go on
the road, performing a musical play on a patriotic subject. The actors in the
company are as colorful and diverse as the characters they portray. These characters
include the young Shoshone woman, Sacagawea; her husband, the French Canadian
trader, Charbonneau; and Clark’s slave, York.
Playwright Paul Zimet’s fascination with the complexities of Meriwether
Lewis led him to travel by foot and canoe along the same trail that the Corps
of Discovery followed. With support from the John Golden New Frontier Award,
he traveled through Montana on the Upper Missouri River, and through the Bitterroot
Mountains of Idaho, where he experienced the still awesome beauty and formidable
challenges of the land.
Featured in the cast of Bitterroot are William Badgett, Ellen Maddow, Isaac
Maddow-Zimet, Tina Shepard, Jeffrey Reynolds, Ryan Dietz, Randy Reyes, Michelle
Rios, and Hunyup Lee. “Blue” Gene Tyranny plays keyboards. Costume
designs by Kiki Smith, lighting by Lenore Doxsee, and set design by Christine
Paul Zimet, artistic director of The Talking Band, has written numerous plays
and musical theater works including NEW CITIES, BLACK MILK QUARTET, and most
recently STAR MESSENGERS. He is a recipient of the Frederick Loewe Award in
Musical Theater and three Obie Awards for his work with The Open Theater and
the Winter Project. Paul is a member of New Dramatists.
Award winning composer, Peter Gordon began collaborating with Paul Zimet in
1996 when they wrote the multimedia musical theater work, PARTY TIME, which
was presented at PS 122. Gordon first gained worldwide attention with the LOVE
OF LIFE ORCHESTRA, which he founded in 1977. He won an Obie for his score for
FALSO MOVIMENTO’S OTELLO, and a Bessie for his score for BILL T. JONES/ARNIE
ZANE’S SECRET PASTURES. Upcoming, is FINDING HOPE IN THE BEAUTY OF OUR
DIFFERENCES: A FOUR MOVEMENT RHAPSODY FOR PIANO commissioned by pianist Sasha
Toperich ,which will be performed at Avery Fisher Hall in June.
Christine Jones received
a special commission from the New York State Council on the Arts to design the
sets for Bitterroot. She recently designed sets for THE GREEN BIRD on Broadway
for which she received the Drama Desk and Outer Critic Circle Award nominations.
Previous designing credits include TEXTS FOR NOTHING (with Joseph Chaikin) at
the NY Shakespeare Festival, and LAST OF THE THORNTONS at the Signature Theatre.
She will be designing NOCTURNE at New York Theater Workshop in May.
The Talking Band was founded
in 1974 by Paul Zimet, Ellen Maddow, and Tina Shepard. Since it’s inception,
The Talking Band has collaborated with musicians as well as designers and poets
to create works of rich and energetic language accentuated by a broad range
of musical expression and visual imagery. Because music is essential to the
company’s unique way of storytelling, songs, rhythms and melodies are
used not as a form of accompaniment, but as an integral narrative voice.
During the past twenty-seven
years, The Talking Band has created and presented 30 theater productions, some
of which have been recognized by the theatrical community with BESSIE and
OBIE awards. This production is The Talking Band’s sixteenth at La
MaMa. For more information about The Talking Band log on to www. talkingband.org.
This production is made
possible with funds from The New York State Council on the Arts and from the
National Endowment for the Arts.