|In "Butter Melts Away My Letters,"
a dark dance theater work conceived and directed by Gian Marco Lo Forte,
choreographed by Stephanie Rafferty, a group of young friends (male and
female) run away to New York City and hustle to make a living. They live
in and share a two-floor loft space in the city; every night they open their
house to new clients. After a night of sex-for-hire, early in the morning
they get together around the kitchen table and talk and dream of other possible
lives. But memories and dreams from their past come back. Lo Forte describes
it as "a play about the discovery of sex, lost love and beauty as the
fool's game that actors play."
The movement-based production is a sequence of memories and flashbacks
to childhood, intended to illustrate the experiences that prefigured the
characters' falling into this kind of life. It is told mostly from the
point of view of a young transvestite, played by Chris Wild, whose voice-over
with his remembrances underscores about a third of the play, mixed with
occasional narrative from two other characters. The people of the play
are meant to embody universal lives, so there are some conceptual twists,
for example: in the character known as "the client," a closeted
homosexual (played by Julia Martin), there is a woman playing a married
The story is conveyed through overlapping fragments of dialogue, monologues
and short dance and movement sequences. The playscript by Gian Marco Lo
Forte, rendered mostly in voice-overs but occasionally spoken live, is
intertwined with music by Stefano Zazzera--primarily disco dance music
manipulated with distortion, whispers and sounds--and extensive video
by Angela Serra. Choreography by Stephanie Rafferty is frantic and energetic,
reflecting primarily modern dance styles and amply influenced by the club
scene. Costumes are designed by Denise Greber.
The piece has been developed collaboratively with its cast of six dancer/actors,
three of whom are members of La MaMa's Great Jones Repertory. The performers
are: Valois Mickins*, Julia Martin*, Chris Wild*, Allison Hiroto, Chris
Mehmed and Marissa Lichwick (* indicates member, Great Jones Rep).
This is the second La MaMa production written and directed by Gian Marco
Lo Forte and his second collaboration there with choreographer Stephanie
Rafferty. In 2003, they adapted Checkhov's "The Seagull" as
a dance theater project. Lo Forte is a member of La MaMa's Great Jones
Rep and has acted in five of its productions. He designed the sets this
year for La MaMa productions of "The Interlude" by Kim Ima and
"ArchipelaGO" by SLANT. As assistant to Donald Eastman, he has
collaborated on set designs for regional productions of "Frog and
Toad," "The Servant of Two Masters" and "M. Butterfly."
Choreographer Stephanie Rafferty , beside her previously-mentioned collaboration
with Gian Marco Lo Forte, has choreographed "Regained Innocence"
and "Robin Hood," directed by Dan Friedman for the All Star
Project at Castillo Theater. She has designed costumes for several shows
Composer/Sound designer Stefano Zazzera has composed music for "The
Interlude" by Kim Ima at La MaMa, "ABC Talent Show" at
Raw Theater, "The Loneliness of N. Chomsky" by N.Salzmann, productions
of Ping Chong, the Lincoln Center Institute, Marino Formenti and FUS Festival
, Italy. He directed "The Room on the Third Floor" (La Stanza
al Terzo Piano), a dance theater work by him and John Sully,at La MaMa
in 2001. He runs the NOBODEGA recording studio.
Costume designer Denise Greber designed the striking, colorful Amazon
costumes for "Bokan, the Bad-Hearted" by Federico Restrepo at
La MaMa this fall. She has been costume designer for productions at La
MaMa ETC, Dixon Place, Theatre For the New City, as well as various international
venues. She is an actor member of La MaMa's Great Jones Repertory Company
and a member and Managing Director of Loco 7 Dance Puppet Theatre Company.