Mar 12, 2016

Coffeehouse Chronicles #132: Talking Band

Michal Gamily – Series Director

Arthur Adair – Educational Outreach

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Join us in March to celebrate the artistic work of Talking Band with archival material, panelists, and live performances.

Moderated by Morgan Jenness

Panelists: Tina Shepard, Ellen Maddow, Paul Zimet, Jack Wetherall, Harry Mann, Lizzie Olesker, Isaac Maddow-Zimet, and Anya Maddow-Zimet

The Talking Band has been making innovative and influential theater works in New York for 40 years. Collectively, the founders have earned 11 OBIE awards and numerous other honors. The company has performed at nearly all of New York City’s celebrated downtown venues, including La MaMa, PS 122, Theater for the New City, Dance Theater Workshop, The Ohio Theater, The Flea Theater and HERE Arts Center. Nearly 50 of its original productions have toured the United States and the world. Notable productions include The Golden Toad, Marcellus Shale, The Walk Across America For Mother Earth, Bitterroot, Radnevsky’s Real Magic, Painted Snake in a Painted Chair, Black Milk Quartet and The Three Lives of Lucie Cabrol.

Paul Zimet is the Artistic Director of the Talking Band. Born and raised in New York City, he studied clarinet and voice at the High School of Music and Art, comparative literature at Columbia College, and medicine at Harvard Medical School. Music-theater works he has written and directed include The Golden Toad, (episodes 2 and 4) Marcellus Shale, New Islands Archipelago, Radnevsky’s Real Magic, Imminence, Belize, The Parrot, Star Messengers, Bitterroot, Party Time, Black Milk Quartet and New Cities. He also wrote Shadow Passports and Bone Room, and episodes 2 and 8 of the Talking Band’s serial mystery drama The Necklace. Zimet has directed over thirty productions for the Talking Band, and received a 2003 Village Voice OBIE award for his direction of Painted Snake in a Painted Chair by Ellen Maddow. In 2011, he directed Taylor Mac’s The Walk Across America for Mother Earth, which Charles Isherwood of The New York Times named one of the year’s top 10 productions. In 2010, Zimet directed The Deity, the first section of Taylor Mac’s OBIE award winning epic The Lily’s Revenge. He also received three OBIE awards for his work with the Open Theater and the Winter Project, both directed by Joseph Chaikin. Zimet has received the John C. Lippmann “New Frontier” Award and the Frederick Loewe Award in Musical Theater, a Playwrights’ Center National McKnight Fellowship, playwriting fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts, a New Dramatists/Children’s Theatre Playground commission, a Rockefeller/Creative Capital MAP Fund grant, a Fulbright Fellowship, and a 2008 NewYorkTheatre.Com People of the Year award. In addition to performing with Talking Band (most recently in The Peripherals and Panic! Euphoria! Blackout, both by Ellen Maddow), Zimet has performed with Mallory Catlett’s Restless NYC, Otrabanda Company, The Stratford Festival of Canada, and the New York Shakespeare Festival. Zimet has taught for many years at colleges and universities, including Princeton, Williams, NYU, and Fordham. He is Associate Professor Emeritus in Theatre at Smith College, an alumnus of New Dramatists, and a mediator for the New York Peace Institute.

Ellen Maddow has been working in the theatre in New York as a writer, composer, and performer for the last forty years. Born in Los Angeles, California, the daughter of a screenwriter and a modern dancer, she attended Hollywood High School and received a B.A. in theatre from Antioch College in Ohio. She was a member of the Open Theatre from 1971-1973, performing in Terminal, Mutation Show, and Nightwalk. Ellen is a founding member of the Talking Band and has performed in most of its works. Works she has written for the company include The Golden Toad (episodes 1 and 3), The Peripherals (studio album available on itunes), Panic! Euphoria!Blackout, Flip Side (published in Plays and Playwrights 2010), Delicious Rivers, Painted Snake in a Painted Chair (for which she
received an Obie award), The Necklace (episodes 3 and 7), Tilt, Brown Dog is Dead, Fern and Rose, and five pieces about the avant-garde housewife, Betty Suffer: Bedroom Suite, Betty and the Blenders, Betty Blends the Blues, Dopplebetty, and Betty Suffer’s Theory of Relativity. In addition to writing music for a number of the works mentioned above, she wrote the scores for the Talking Band’s production of Marcellus Shale, Hot Lunch Apostles, Taylor Mac’s – Walk Across America for Mother Earth (published by Playscripts.), New Islands Archipelago, Radnevsky’s Real Magic, Imminence (with Peter Gordon), Belize, The Parrot, Black Milk, The Plumber’s Helper, New Cities, Star Messengers. She also composed the music for 1969 Terminal 1996 (directed by Joseph Chaikin), Jubilee and Home/Wire Walking for Risa Jarislow and Dancers. She wrote Persephone for Mettawee River Theatre Company. Ellen was a performer in Taylor Mac’s The Lily’s Revenge. She wrote music for Liz Duffy Adam’s – Buccaneers commissioned and performed by the Children’s Theatre of Minneapolis, and John Fleming’s Superhuman Happiness commissioned and performed by Yellow Springs Kids Playhouse. Ellen is the recipient of an OBIE Award, a McKnight Playwriting Fellowship, the Frederick Loewe Award in Musical Theatre, a NYFA Playwriting Fellowship. She was a participant in the NEA/TCG Theatre Residency Program for Playwrights, and received a New York People of the Year Award. She is an alumnus of New Dramatists, and a mediator for the New York Peace Institute, working in both the Civil and Criminal Courts of Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Morgan Jenness spent over a decade at the New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theater, with both Joseph Papp and George C. Wolfe, in various capacities ranging from literary manager to Director of Play Development to Associate Producer and was Associate Artistic Director at the New York Theater Workshop, and an Associate Director at the Los Angeles Theater Center in charge of new projects.  Has worked as a dramaturg, workshop director, and/or artistic consultant at theaters and new play programs across the country and is on the faculty at Fordham, Pace and Columbia University. Also worked as an agent and creative consultant at Helen Merrill and Abrams Artists agencies and is currently Creative Director at This Distracted Globe Consultancy.  In 2003, Ms. Jenness was presented with an Obie Award Special Citation for Longtime Support of Playwrights.   She is also the winner of a 2015 Duke Impact Award and the GE Lessing Award from LMDA.

Harry Mann is a theater musician who has composed and performed with music artists: Ray Charles, Cecil Taylor, Butch Morris; theater innovators: Sam Shepard, Joe Chaiken, Ann Bogart, the Talking Band; puppeteers: Ralph Lee, and Janie Geiser; choreographers: Eva Dean, Ann Hammel, Wendy Osserman, and the Dance Theatre of Toronto. He is the co-leader of the jazz duo Gorilla My Love, with Neal Kirkwood; and performance duo Micro Stories, with actress Clea Rivera.

Lizzie Olesker is a playwright, performer and director whose work has been presented at New Georges, Ohio Theater, Invisible Dog, Cherry Lane, and the Public.  She’s collaborated with Lynne Sachs (currently on EVERY FOLD MATTERS, a hybrid documentary film & laundromat performance), Lenora Champagne, Diane Torr,  Otrabanda Co., Paradise Opera, Big Bucket, and Joseph Chaikin (at La Mama). With the Talking Band, she appeared in NEW CITIES (touring to Moscow and Santiago, Chile) and as a writer on THE NECKLACE and OBSKENE. She teaches playwriting at NYU and the New School.

Tina Shepard was a member of The Open Theater, The Winter Project and The Other Theater, all under the direction of Joe Chaikin. She is a founding member of The Talking Band, formed with her colleagues Paul Zimet & Ellen Maddow when The Open Theater disbanded in 1973. Tina teaches acting and aikido at NYU/ETW.

Jack Wetherall began his career in the theatre forty some years ago at the Stratford Festival Theatre of Canada. Under Robin Phillips’ brilliant Artistic Direction he became a leading member of the company playing such roles as Henry V, Orlando in AS YOU LIKE IT and Konstantin in THE SEAGULL (opposite Dame Maggie Smith). He arrived in New York to play the title role in THE ELEPHANT MAN in the original Broadway production. Around that time he began a long and happy association with The Talking Band, including TRISTAN AND ISOLDE, PEDRO PARAMO, HOT LUNCH APOSTLES ( both the original production and the recent revival) and THE WALK ACROSS AMERICA FOR MOTHER EARTH. His roles in Regional theaters which are Highlights include: Cyrano de Bergerac, Macbeth, Richard II, Lopakhin, Shotover, Willmore the Rover, Jack Tanner, and most recently Lyman in OTHER DESERT CITIES etc. He loves coaching actors, and teaching (presently at The Stella Adler Studio of Acting). Jack steers The Shakespeare Lab here in the city.

Isaac Maddow-Zimet is a lifelong fan of the Talking Band. He performed with the company in Bitterroot (2001) and Tilt (1999). He now works as a researcher at the Guttmacher Institute, and is in a Masters program for Applied Statistics at NYU.

Anya Maddow-Zimet has been attending rehearsals, shows and touring with the Talking Band since she was an infant. She has performed in the Talking Band’s Lilac and Flag and Bad Women.  She now works as a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner at the William Ryan Women and Children’s Center.

Coffeehouse Chronicles


Coffeehouse Chronicles is an educational performance series exploring the history of Off-Off-Broadway. Part artist-portrait, part history lesson, and part community forum, Coffeehouse Chronicles take an intimate look at the development of downtown theatre, from the 1960s’ “Coffeehouse Theatres” through today.

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