The New York Times features Theodora Skipitares! Read the article below!!
On Sunday, April 8 at 3:30pm, Theodora Skipitares and Company will present a talk-back discussion on THE EXILES project currently running at La MaMa Annex. The talk-back will feature a discussion of the production as well as a demonstration of the unique puppetry styles featured in the show.
The discussion will take place in the La MaMa Annex at 66 East 4th Street, and is free and open to the public.
This Q & A is presented by NYFA Fellows' Artists and Audiences Exchange program.
La MaMa E.T.C. and Skysaver Productions present a multi-media theater production THE EXILES. The production, adapted from the Orestes/ Electra myth by Theodora Skipitares features realistic 5 foot Bunraku puppets strapped to the front of actors' bodies at the head, the chest, the waist, and the knees. Each veiled actor speaks and sings his/her lines from behind the puppet, much as an actor might have spoken his lines from behind a large Greek mask in ancient Greek theater. In this particular story of betrayal and vengeance, these puppets are an eerie construction of facade and public display, while their operators are a shadow of primal, often raw emotions and personal desires.
The role of Orestes is performed by Nicky Paraiso, the winner of last year’s New York Innovative Theater Award for best supporting actor. The role of Electra is performed by Sonja Perryman, who played the title role in Skipitares’ IPHIGENIA last year. Also in the cast are: Sheila Dabney, Chris Maresca, Alissa Mello, Aneesh Sheth, and Amanda Villalobos. THE EXILES features an original music score composed by Tim Schellenbaum. The production is adapted, designed and directed by Theodora Skipitares, with lighting design by Pat Dignan. The puppets are designed by Cecilia Schiller and Theodora Skipitares and the video designer is Kay Hines.
Read Review from the New York Times
Photo: Liz O. Baylen for The New York Times
eight to watch
By Kathryn Shattuck
The New york times
february 25, 2007
ALL the seats in Theodora Skipitares’s East Third Street living room were occupied, and like a good hostess, she introduced her guests.
“This is Orestes,” she said, tracing the face of a wan aristocrat attired in muted pink. “Orestes is traumatized by guilt, and his color is not good.” So, apparently, was his sister, Electra, pale if resplendent in a macramé gown. “Menelaus thinks he’s a war hero, and there’s something kind of pompous in the way he dresses,” Ms. Skipitares went on, stroking his bronzed breastplate. “And he’s my favorite — the house slave of Helen of Troy,” she said of the man in colorful coat and velvet slippers. “Look at how beautiful his hands are.”
Soon enough she was dancing a little waltz with Orestes. With his plaintive eyes and aquiline nose, the resemblance to Ms. Skipitares was uncanny. “I have always made puppets that look a bit like me,” she said of the nearly life-size figures, created with Cecilia Schiller, part of the career memorabilia decorating her apartment cum studio. “I think all my figures are still somewhat autobiographical, even though I stopped making autobiographical performances a long time ago.”
Beginning March 22 at La MaMa Annex, Ms. Skipitares will present a three-week run of “The Exiles,” her adaptation of “Orestes” by Euripides and the latest in her series of puppet plays based on Greek classics that echo the Iraq war.
Ms. Skipitares, who began her political explorations at Berkeley in the 1960s, made a name for herself in New York with searing documentary-style performance pieces, often featuring choruses of puppets. But four years ago she put her own plays aside.
“As a child and as a young artist I didn’t really focus on the Greek myths, even though Greek culture was all around me,” said Ms. Skipitares, who grew up in a close-knit Greek-American family in San Francisco. “I think I got interested in the Greek myths after living in India in 2000, when I saw dozens of dances, plays and religious rituals that were based on very old, magnificent stories.”
“When I came back to the United States, I rediscovered the Greek myths and the tragedies, and I saw them in a new light,” she continued. “And I really hook that up to when we went to Iraq. The Greeks lived in a time of endless war, and sometimes I think we feel we’re in a war without end.”
In “Trilogy,” seen at La MaMa last year, she used her puppets to weave fragments of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and works by Euripides and Robert Graves, into a commentary on the Trojan War and its immediate aftermath.
“I believe ‘The Exiles’ is about the longer-term postwar situation of a country that gave its all for a war and is not yet healed,” she said. “Now Orestes and Electra find themselves in a postwar situation where they’re citizens who have kept quiet for too long.”
Last month Ms. Skipitares joined Artists Against the War in a subdued protest in Washington. “I think of our time right now,” she said. “There’s a kind of stall in the air, where we thought people kind of registered their voices a few months ago, and nothing is happening.”
“I’m hoping that maybe ‘Orestes’ will be the end of the cycle,” she added, “but I don’t know.”