Mustard
The Club
April 28 - May 14, 2006
Friday - Saturday 10:00pm
Sunday - 5:30pm
Tickets $15
Written and Directed by Mitchell Polin
Choreography by Mitchell Polin and Michael Burke
Live music by Tungsten 74
Lighting by Blu
Photo:Kristopher Kling (Torvald) and Jessie Richardson (Nora) by Jonathan Slaff

Box office 212.475.7710

Mustard: A Play. A Love Story.

"Mustard" is a renegade adaptation of Ibsen's "A Doll's House," performed by Ordinary Theater, written and directed by Mitchell Polin, who specializes in "re-mix" as a formalized theatrical tool of process and structure. Falling somewhere between "Happenings," rituals, and rock concerts, his works combine live music, song, video, found texts, movement, and storytelling into a fluid landscape of performance. The piece has choreography by Polin and Michael Burke, lighting by Blu and live music and video projection by Tungsten74, a psyche noise freak out space rock band. The part of Nora is divided between Kimberly Brandt, Jessie Richardson and The Philly (a flaming red-haired underground film star, noise musician, and visual artist).


The Philly as Nora. Photo by Jonathan Slaff

Mitchell Polin is a director who moved from happenings into theater, so don't expect a well-made play. The project is best described as a "theatrical re-mix" of Ibsen's classic, which takes the audience on a sound walk around an imaginary city in which Nora lives.

In Ibsen's 1879 classic, the "doll," Nora Helmer, with a naïve innocence coming from her petted existence, commits forgery to secure money for her sick husband. The results of her act awaken her to a new world. When danger from the law is past, her resentment at being treated as a doll forces her to leave home to discover life for herself.

Polin has previously done plays based on two other female characters of literature--Emily in "Our Town" and Gretchen in Goethe's "Faust"--and is very interested in Nora as the continuing archetype of the eternal feminine. In "Mustard," Nora's Tarantella dance, when she realizes she can be free, is reinterpreted into a vision of technological virtuosity, as Nora's movements exercise control over the sound, lights, and video of the performance.

Says Polin, "'A Doll's House' could happen anywhere in any city. In a space with so many unique and irreducible lives, actions, and events, how do the simultaneous happenings give each other meaning?" The play begins with a view of Nora as a speck in the universe, partly staging the events of the town "Planetarium style," with a narrator and a projected surround; the performance then moves to the streets of the city, and finally culminates in Nora's living room with a portion of Ibsen's play. The production partners a live musical score with a collage of acting styles and choreographic images.

The performance is situated within a cardboard model of New York City and against a fluid landscape of video and lighting. The idea is to dramatize the "hidden moments" and "accidental harmonies" in all the rooms of our lives. To accent the public/private dichotomy there are Brechtian touches, for example, there are microphones onstage in which the characters speak directly to the audience and sing with the band.

The actors are Philly, Kimberly Brandt, Jessie Richardson, Michael Burke, Kristopher Kling and Ben Horner. The part of Nora is divided among all three actresses; the part of Torvalds is shared between Kling and Horner. Burke appears as the narrator.

Mitchell Polin, artistic director of the Ordinary Theater, is a NYC-based director and playwright whose work focuses on the notion of the "re-mix" as a formalized theatrical tool of process and structure. Falling somewhere between "Happenings," rituals and rock concerts, his works combine live music, song, video, found texts, movement, and storytelling into a fluid landscape of performance. His directed works have appeared at Synchronicity Space, One Arm Red, The Stella Adler Conservatory, The Bank Street Theater, Dixon Place, Performance Mix Series/The Joyce Soho, The Philadelphia Fringe Festival (2003), The Ko Festival of Performance (2004), The 2004 National Gay & Lesbian Theatre Festival (Columbus, OH), and Trinity College, among others. Polin will direct recent actors of the Moscow Art Theater in "Faust!!!" in Tallinn, Estonia in 2007. Past works include "The Meeting" (eight existential figures meet in an alien landscape), "Capitalistic Acts Between Consenting Adults" (an adaptation of Aldus Huxley's novel Brave New World), "Quad Antigone," "Faust!!!," and "Our Town: Revisited" (Valley of the Dolls invades Grover's Corners).

On the occasion of Polin's "The Meeting" (1999) at the Bank Street Theater, Show Business (Jennifer Besser) wrote, "'The Meeting' is an impressive show of the Ordinary Theater's talent, a young company whose work should not be missed." Polin is also the director of performance artist Michael Burke and choreographer Lesley Farlow. His work also includes studies in the ritual and storytelling of Polynesia. He is an assistant professor of Theater and Dance at Trinity College.

Tungsten74 (music and projections), now ten years old, is a psyche noise freak out space rock band which has worked with Mitchell Polin on three previous theatrical productions. Splendid E-zine wrote, "This swirling mass of mind-boggling genre twisting embraces tasteful improvisational skills, freaky percussive rolls and ambient drones, single-mindedly focused on blowing you away without blowing your interest in the band's atypical style of music." Further info: www.tungsten74.com.

The Philly (Nora, Host) is an "indie" film star, noise musician, educator, painter, and muse for numerous photographers. She moved from Toronto to NYC in the early '80s and performed at the Pyramid, Mudd Club, and ABC NO RIO with John Sex, Happi Phace, Tabboo, Ethyl Eichelberger, and Joey Arias. She has appeared in films by Todd Verow including "She's Under My Thumb," "A Sudden Loss of Gravity," "The Trouble with Perpetual Déjà vu," "Shucking the Curve" and most notably, "Once and a Future Queen." She has also appeared in "Hair Burner" by Ned Ambler, "Nitwit" by Xan Price, and various films by queer camp icons George and Mike Kuchar. She is leader of "Infinity SS," a noise band/cooperative of performance artists, visual artists, musicians and deejays. As a visual artist, she juxtaposes collage, painted glass, and found objects. She has taught at Trinity College.

Kimberly Brandt (Nora) has appeared in New York at Dixon Place, University Settlement, HERE Arts Center, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Williamsburg Arts Nexus and P.S. 122. She has also performed in numerous dance works and independent films in New York and Massachusetts, and currently dances for choreographer Sam Kim. From 2003-2006, she was Dance Program Director at Dixon Place. Upcoming performances in Spring 2006 include Movement Research at DTW and Food for Thought at Danspace Project at St. Mark's Church. A graduate of Hampshire College, she is currently attending NYU's Tisch School of the Arts Performance Studies MA program.

Michael Burke (co-choreographer, host) is an NYC-based queer performance artist/indie film actor/activist/educator. His work juxtaposes spoken text, dance, visual imagery, video, music and sound score to locate the many ways that the personal is the political. Burke has been presented in NYC at venues including Dixon Place, HOT! The NYC Celebration of Queer Culture (1999-2005), OPERATION: OPERATION @ The Marquee, The Big Broadcast on WBAI FM, The Fuse Festival presented by HERE Arts Center and Dixon Place (2003), New Dance Alliance's Performance Mix Series/The Joyce Soho (2002, 2005), The Oasis Festival at Chashama and The Howl Festival. He teaches in the Theater & Dance Department and InterArts Program at Trinity College. He is a recipient of All Out Arts & New Village Productions' "Best Performance Artist of 2003" Award.

Ben Horner (Torvald, host) has worked with Richard Foreman for the past two years, first appearing as a Dwarf in The Gods Are Pounding My Head! (aka Lumberjack Messiah) and most recently in Zomboid!: Film/Performance Project #1 . Other notable credits include Anthony Nielson's "Penetrator"; "Closer" and "The Winter's Tale" at Stella Adler Theatre; "Picasso at the Lapin Agile" at Collective Unconscious, and "Description Beggared, Or The Allegory of WHITENESS" at The Farm Theatre. This summer he will be performing at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival.

Jessie Richardson (Nora) is a graduate of Trinity College (Hartford), where she majored in Theatre and Dance. Past productions include "Blood Wedding" (directed by Zishan Urgulu) and "Our Town (Revisited)," directed by Mitchell Polin.

Kristopher Kling (Torvald) recently graduated from The Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, England. He played Orlando in "As You Like It" and Horatio in "Hamlet" for the Nebraska Shakespeare Festival. He is a founding member of the performance group The Crownfill 5, and the band Transforming Apollo.


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