Good albums deserve to be played more than once.
Taffety Punk Theatre Company is pleased to remount its 2012 production of Ivan Vyrypaev's "Oxygen", a play set in modern-day Russia that is essentially a live concept album. The audience is guided through the evening by an onstage DJ (Taffety Punk company member Dan Crane), while two actors (Mark Krawczyk and Taffety Punk company member Esther Williamson) perform ten "tracks"scenes that are constructed like prose songs, complete with refrains. The Washington Post called it, "part poetry slam, part bitter romance, part moral screed."
Where: Capitol Hill Arts Workshop (545 7th Street SE, Washington, DC 20003)
When: Opens Friday, April 5 at 8:00 PM; Runs Wednesdays through Saturdays until April 26 at 8:00 PM, with Saturday Matinees at 2:00 PM
Price: All tickets $15 at http://tix.taffetypunk.com/ or 1-800-838-3006
Taffety Punk Theatre Company aims to operate like a band, so performing the vocal "tracks" to original music by DC indie rockers is a natural choice. The performance features compositions by stars of DC's music sceneincluding E.D. Sedgwick (of Dischord Records), The Caribbean's Michael Kentoff, The Gena Rowlands Band, local electro-punker Jupiter Rex, and frequent Taffety Punk collaborator Kathy Cashel (of Exotic Fever Records). Taffety Punk company member Lise Bruneau, who co-directed Oxygen with Chris Curtis, asked this collection of punks and rockers to project themselves into east European electronica, with varied and powerful results.
Immersed in this intense musical landscape, the play revolves around two loverslower-class Sasha from the country and upper-class Sasha from the citydealing with their class differences, a murder, and their inextinguishable passion. The story is told by two actors who have their own history and issues with each other, and who repeatedly cross traditional boundaries delineating character, narrator, public performer, and private person.
Ivan Vyrypaev is a Russian playwright and filmmaker associated with the New Drama movement. His work includes the plays July, Genesis No. 2, Valentine's Day, Where I Am, and The City; he has won several Russian theatre awards as well as the Presidential Council award for contribution to Russian Literature. Plays of the New Drama movement regularly take on the gritty and taboo themes in Russian society, relying on a documentary approach in which text from interviews is used and the performers comment on the narrative rather than acting it out.
"I love the language in this play," says Esther Williamson. "The images are bizarre and immediate. Each track starts with something very oldlike a passage from the Sermon on the Mountand immediately turns it into something new and unexpected. That's a very Taffety Punk thing, taking the classics and reframing them for the world in which we live. It's perfect for any punk rocker who likes to think about the big questions of connection and authenticity in a near-apocalyptic world."
About the setting, Lise Bruneau says, "There has been such a tremendous upheaval in the way of life in modern-day Russia. Oxygen is an informative and intriguing way to weigh the impact of day-to-day Russian life on her young people, from a really gifted writer."
She adds, "Oxygen very much shares an aesthetic and attack with Taffety Punk: it's energetic, unapologetically forthright, nervy, and maybe a little opaque at timesto leave the audience plenty of room to engage intellectually. It also gives our extended composer/musician family an opportunity to score just one or two tracks out of ten, so the musical landscape is varied and, well, excellentboasting some of DC's most beloved bands. We're very proud of the show and wanted to give more folks a chance to experience it. That's why we're bringing it back."
Oxygen plays at Capitol Hill Arts Workshop (545 7th Street SE, Washington, DC 20003), opens on Friday, April 5, and runs through Friday, April 26 on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Shows are at 8:00 PM with Saturday matinees at 2:00 PM. Tickets are $10 and available at http://tix.taffetypunk.com or by calling 1-800-838-3006.
For hi-res photos, go to: http://www.taffetypunk.com/press.html
Taffety Punk Theatre Company won the John Aniello Award for Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company at the 2008 Helen Hayes Awards. The company was also a 2010 finalist for the D.C. Mayor's Arts Award for Innovation in the Arts. Taffety Punk's mission is to establish a dynamic ensemble of actors, dancers and musicians who ignite a public passion for theatre by making the classical and the contemporary exciting, meaningful, and affordable.
The Caribbean's Michael Kentoff (composer). The Caribbean (Micheal Kentoff, Matthew Byars, and Dave Jones) are from Washington, DC and make silky experimental rock. Their records come out primarily on the Portland, OR label Hometapes, but they also release more abstract material on the Australian Hidden Shoal label. They play all over, but locally mostly at the Black Cat, U Street Music Hall, Comet Ping-Pong, Galaxy Hut, and the Velvet Lounge.
E.D. Sedgwick (Justin Moyer, composer) formed in 1999 when El Guapo bassist Justin Moyer and ex-Panoply Academy Glee Club drummer Ryan Hicks wrote a number of songs about celebrities. In 2004, Justin began performing in drag as Edie Sedgwick, the transgendered reincarnation of a vacuous Andy Warhol Superstar who died of a barbiturate overdose in 1971. Armed with a video projector, precious iMovies, and the occasional backing band, E.D. toured prolifically presenting auditory and visual art that honors the likes of Angelina Jolie, Robert Downey, Jr., Paris Hilton, Martin Sheen, and other celebrities. After two more records 2005's "Her Love is Real, But She is Not" on Desoto Records and 2008's "Things are Getting Sinister and Sinisterer" on Dischord Records and playing everywhere from Baltimore to Bulgaria, E.D. got pretty sick of celebs and now just writes songs about whoever and whatever and reserves the right not to wear a dress in the future. E.D.'s last full length, "Love Gets Lovelier Every Day," was released by Dischord in 2011.
The Gena Rowlands Band (Bob Massey, composer) is the ongoing sonic experiment of composer Bob Massey. Beginning with quiet sets on the acoustic guitar in venues like the Galaxy Hut and the Black Cat, The Gena Rowlands Band now fluctuates in size and scope with guest artists, many of whom are notable graduates of the Washington D.C post-punk community. Albums released are the debut La Merde et Les Etoiles and the follow up Flesh and Spirits, on Lujo Records. The Gena Rowlands Band has toured with Andrew Bird, Enon, The Dismemberment Plan and others.
Electric Blanketland is a world-premiere collaboration between Kathy Cashel and Greg Ceton. Kathy's rock and roll credits include early 90's power trio The Norman Mayer Group. She has more recently been composing songs on the acoustic guitar, released on Exotic Fever Records. Cashel and Ceton have been recording music together for years, but this is their first time writing together. Cashel has worked with Taffety Punk before, scoring 2007's The Devil in His Own Words, and most recently creating original music for and performing in the Riot Grrrls' Much Ado About Nothing.
Jupiter Rex is the nom de musique for Josh Taylor, DC based electonica artist and frequent Taffety Punk collaborator. A member of the extended ensemble, Mr. Taylor has scored many Taffety Punk productions including the Riot Grrrls' Measure for Measure, Burn Your Bookes, The Grim Experiment, and the last three Bootleg Shakespeare shows at the Folger. He also manipulated live and recorded sounds for the company's dance play suicide.chat.room in conjunction with a score by Beauty Pill. He most recently provided an original score, which he played live, for Taffety Punk company member Daniel Flint's adaptation of The Golem.
Taffety Punk Theatre Co at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop
545 7th Street SE
Washington, DC 20003