PROSE OF THE TRANSIBERIAN AND LITTLE JOAN OF FRANCE

Performance Schedule:
April 5 - 22, 2001
The Annex Theatre
Thursday - Sunday 7:30pm
Sunday Matinee at 2:30pm
$20.00


"Prose of the Transsiberian and of Little Joan of France," a new work created by Vit Horejš and the Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre, is based on the 1913 poem in prose, "La Prose du Transsibérien et de la Pettite Jehanne de France" by Blaise Cendrars, a contemporary and a friend of Guillaume Appolinaire. Cendrars wrote this poem about his adventurous travel on the Transsiberian railroad in 1905, during which he witnessed Siberia and Manchuria torn by Russo-Japanese war and other upheavals. The poet's text is still quite timely as the beginning of the century and of the millennium is marked by upheavals in the border regions of the former Soviet Union which equal those Cendrars witnessed almost one hundred years ago. Vit Horejš is particularly interested in these upheavals, having lived through similar times as a young man in Prague before he left to live in the United States in the late 70s.

The poem will be staged as a multi-discipline puppet-dance theater collaboration by director/librettist Vit Horejš, puppet designer Jakub "Kuba" Krejcí, composer/musical director/musician Jemeel Moondoc and choreographer Babs Case.

Blaise Cendrars is regarded as the co-founder of the "new" poetry (with Guillaume
Appolinaire, who got all the credit). Guillaume died of a wound received in WWI and Cendrars only lost one arm in the conflict. But the latter went on to race cars, fly airplanes, shoot films about elephants in Africa and spew amazing rhythmical prose in which he reinvented himself and retold his true adventures the way they might have and definitely should have happened.

"Prose of the Transsiberian and of Little Joan of France" was created in collaborative workshops between performers from the Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre from New York, artists from Minor Theatre, based in Prague, Czech Republic and dancers of Wyoming Dance Workshop. Eventually, the host companies plan a full staging in their home countries and all participants dream of a tour of the cities involved as well as a tour to cities along the Transsiberian railroad.

Set designer is Manuel Lutgenhorst, originally from Germany, who is currently based in Chiangmai, Thailand. Luftenhorst designs and directs theater and film projects in Easter Asia and Europe. His latest New York Project was Mabou Mines' "Animal Magnetism" at Arts at St. Ann's, directed by Lee Breuer. In Prague, Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre worked with Minor Theatre members and the pre-eminent Prague puppet designer Jakub "Kuba" Krejcí, who had designed puppets for several previous CAMT projects and whose lithographs and sketches will be on display in the lobby. The 210 eight-inch puppets playing the Japanese and Russian armies were designed and built in Prague by Miloš Kasal. Patented pantographic multi-controls by Mr. Horejš allow a single puppeteer to manipulate scores of marionettes en masse.

Costume Designer is Theresa Linnihan, a veteran performer of Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre.

This project was partially developed in Prague and Saint Petersburg with a grant from Trust for Mutual Understanding. It has been made possible in part with funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, National Endowment for the Arts and the Henson Foundation. Additional support from Con Edison, Amalgamated Bank, El Bohio/Charas, Materials for the Arts and private donors. Official carrier: Czech Airlines. CAMT is also supported by Rockefeller Foundation Multi-arts Production Fund and Arts International.

Jemeel Moondoc (Composer, saxophone, flutes) is the founder of Muntu and the leader of the ad-hoc trio for the Transiberian Project. Jemeel has toured worldwide and with William Parker, his favorite bass player, has recorded with Muntu, Jus Grew Orchestra, Jemeel Moondoc Trio, J.M. Quartet and J.M. Quartet. He was strongly influenced by Cecil Taylor with whom he studied in Ohio. In New York, Jemeel is frequently featured in clubs and theaters.

William Parker (double bass) has performed and toured worldwide with Kenny Durham, Don Cherry, Maxine Sullivan and Cecil Taylor as well as Jemeel Moondoc. As a composer he has written for chamber groups, dance and film. His latest CD, "The Peach Orchard" is on AUM Fidelity Records. He is also the founder of "The Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra", (most recently seen at Merkin Hall), "In Order To Survive Quartet", "The Organic Trio" and "The Organic Theatre Ensemble."

Stephanie Stone (piano) has played piano and sung in saloons for many years. More recently she has immersed herself in the music of avant-garde improvisers.

Barbara "Babs" Case (choreographer) is the Artistic Director of Dancers Workshop in Jackson, Wyoming. She received her BA Degree in Dance from the University of Iowa and has performed, choreographed and taught modern dance throughout the U.S., Canada, South American, Europe and Asia for the past 25 years. She was founding Executive Artistic Director of the Center for the Arts in Stuart, FL for 12 years. Among her accomplishments with the Center was the formation and development of Case & Co., a professional modern dance company. Ms. Case is a past recipient of National Endowment for the Arts funding and the Florida Fellowship Award for Choreography. In 1992 she was awarded an Indo-American Research Fulbright Fellowship to study dance and theater in India. In 1996 Ms. Case collaborated with Bob Berky performing excerpts of "? The Unanswered Question?" at Lincoln Center in New York. As an educator Ms, Case was an adjunct professor of Dance
at Florida International University.

Miloš Kasal (eight-inch marionettes for Russian and Japanese armies), originally an engineer, has been producing toy marionettes and theaters from 1920s molds since 1990. His puppets were wildly successful at the Czechoslovak American Marionette Theatre's puppet store and in its productions of "Hamlet," "Golem," "Rusalka, the Little Rivermaid," "Unsatiable Rooty," "Twelve Iron Sandals" and in the citywide tour of "Christmas Carol, Oy Hanukkah" in December 2000.

Jakub "Kuba" Krejcí (marionette design consultant), a graduate of the Prague Puppetry School, designs and carves marionettes in both traditional and modern styles. One of the foremost carvers of wooden marionettes in Czechoslovakia, his trademark is stylized "collage" puppet costume in which he uses scrap leather, fur, metal, fabric and fiber. His marionettes range in size from eight to over eighty inches. Mr. Krejcí has created sets and puppets for more than one hundred productions throughout Czechoslovakia, including for Drak Theatre, and Minor Theatre, and for theaters in Konstanz, Switzerland; Roskilde, Krems and Bremen, Germany; and Walbrzych, Poland. Among the productions he designed were Faust, Don Quixote, Midsummer Night's Dream, and a large repertory of traditional and contemporary Czech puppet plays. His designs and marionettes were shown at numerous exhibitions in Czechoslovakia, Germany, Netherlands and Switzerland. In his first work for a United States based company, he created over 20 marionettes for The Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre's productions of "The White Doe," "Golem" (nominated for American Theatre Wing's 1998 Hewes Design Award), "Hamlet" and the Rusalka puppet for "Rusalka, the Little Rivermaid." Krejcí has also presented numerous graphic works, paintings and wood sculptures in solo and group exhibits in the Czech Republic and Europe.

Vit Horejš, an émigré from Prague, founded Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre in 1990 utilizing century-old Czech puppets which he found in the Jan Hus Church on East 74th Street. His trademark is using puppets of many sizes, from six-inch toy marionettes to approximately human-sized ones. Horejš is well-known for innovative re-interpretations of classics, including:

* "Johannes Dokchtor Faust" (1991, 1993, 1994), which incorporated age-old technical tricks, fire and thunder, hellish gargoyles and underwater creatures The work was part of NADA's Obie-winning Faust Festival in 1994. A new version will be staged in Spring, 2000 at La MaMa. * "The White Doe" (1993, 1995), which blended traditional and modern puppetry and music, The film "Faust on a String," which received a Golden Eagle Award from CINE (Washington, DC) and has been screened in major festivals, * "Golem" (1997, 1998), a dance work based on the Czech Jewish legend with music by Frank London, which was first presented by La MaMa E.T.C. and became part of the Jim Henson Foundation's Fourth International Festival of Puppet Theater last fall, * A much-celebrated puppet version of "Hamlet" (1997), which debuted at the Vineyard Theater and subsequently was produced at the Karagöz Festival in Bursa, Turkey, * "Rusalka, the Little Rivermaid" (1999), featuring music by jazz legend William Parker, which played to capacity audiences in La MaMa's Annex Theater last January and whose enthusiastic reception prompted a return engagement a month later. "Rusalka" toured to Prague and Pilsen in the Czech Republic, to Poland, and in November 2000, to V. International Puppet Festival in Lahore, Pakistan.

"Prose of the Transsiberian and of Little Joan of France," owing to its grown-up subject matter, is recommended for adults only and Czechoslovak American Marionette Theatre will offer a separate attraction for its young following. On Saturdays during the run, especially for children, there will be three short story-plays, collectively titled "Devil Stories." These are "Kacha & the Devil," "The Waterspirit and Stingy Tailor" and "The Lawyer & the Devil." The stories are of Czech origin; the last has a counterpart in Canterbury Tales. They will be supplemented by true stories of troubles Mr. Horejs's wooden devil puppets encountered while touring the American Bible Belt.

Throughout the run there will be a lobby exhibit of art by the company's collaborators and designers. It will include lithographs, designs and puppets by Jakub "Kuba" Krejcí.


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