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How does Poets Theater integrate the usually solitary research practice of the poet into the ecstatically open site of the theater? How does performance ‘do’ poetry, and how does it replicate poetry’s gestural openness? And what are the outer reaches of these theatrical gestures; how does Poets Theater fold into dance, painting, sculpture, music, and even back into poetry?

Links Hall and Sector 2337, in association with Green Lantern Press and Kenning Editions, is pleased to present The Second Annual Festival of Poets Theater, curated by Links Hall Artistic Associate Curatorial Residents Devin King and Patrick Durgin. On December 7th – December 10th, 2016, The Second Annual Festival of Poets Theater presents performances, screenings and readings over four nights, plus an afternoon of talks on the genre at Sector 2337 and Links Hall. Tickets and Passes are available via Links Hall. Festival passes come with free admission to all events. The first ten festival passes come with a subscription to Poetry Magazine. All pass holders receive a free copy of The Kenning Anthology of Poets Theater. Further details are available here, and below.

Wednesday, December 7th, Sector 2337, 6-10pm

Sector 2337, 2337 N. Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

Opening Reception and performances by Kevin Lee, Michael Pisaro, and Joseph Clayton Mills

Cosmological Plants by Michael Pisaro

Cosmological Plants is a dance with music and a poem aligned to the maps of three constellations in the November sky.

Michael Pisaro is a guitarist, composer and a member of the Wandelweiser collective. His music is performed frequently in concerts and festivals around the world. Recordings of his work (solo and collaborative) have been released by Edition Wandelweiser Records, erstwhile records, New World Records, another timbre, slubmusic, Cathnor, Senufo Editions, winds measure, HEM Berlin and on Pisaro’s own imprint, Gravity Wave. Before joining the composition faculty at the California Institute of the Arts, he taught composition and theory at Northwestern University.

Corvus corax by Joseph Clayton Mills

A composition for tape recorders, cassette loops, dictaphone, typewriter, and suitcases, Corvus corax takes as its raw material Patrick Farmer’s prose poem Wild Horses Think of Nothing Else the Sea (SARU 2014).

Joseph Clayton Mills is a musician, artist, and writer who lives and works in Chicago. His text-based paintings, assemblages, and sound installations have been exhibited in Chicago, New York, and Europe and his work has appeared in numerous publications, including The New Yorker. He is the author of the short-story collection Zyxt, and in 2012 published Nabokrossvords, a translation of early Russian crosswords by Vladimir Nabokov. He is an active participant in the improvised and experimental music community in Chicago, where his collaborators have included Adam Sonderberg and Steven Hess (as Haptic), Michael Vallera (as Maar), Noé Cuéllar (as Parital), Sylvain Chaveau, Jason Stein, Michael Pisaro, and Olivia Block, among many others; his recordings have appeared on numerous labels, including Another Timbre, FSS, and Entr’acte. In 2013, in conjunction with Noé Cuéllar, he launched Suppedaneum, a label focused on releasing scores and their realizations.

To Speak of Future Delights by Kevin B. Lee

Two images provide a portal to the other side of the world. A lecture delivered in performative typing and voiceless montage.

Kevin B. Lee is a filmmaker and critic based in Chicago. He was named one of the Chicago New CIty Film 50 in 2013, 2014 and 2016. His film “Transformers: The Premake” was named one of the best documentaries of 2014 by Sight & Sound magazine and screened at the Belinale, Viennale and Rotterdam Film Festivals. He teaches at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Thursday, December 8th, 7-10pm

Sector 2337, 2337 N. Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

Performances by Nathanael Jones, Jennifer Tamayo, and a rare screening the Living Theatre Production of The Brig, by Kenneth Brown, as filmed by Jonas Mekas

for_twovocalists by Nathanael Jones, w/ Beth McDonald and Neal Markowski

Well, what does the title tell us? for_twovocalists. Let’s begin with the easiest part: “twovocalists.” A compound word of sorts. First a “two,” which unequivocally refers to the “vocalists”—there are two of them. Additionally, “vocalists” can be broken down further into the words vocal (relating to the human voice), and lists (a number of connected items or names). Together, they give us an idea of what to expect. Then there is the “for,” a preposition in this case. Preceding the compound word “twovocalists,” we understand it to mean that something is in support of/supporting the vocalists, or, that it is on behalf of/to the benefit of them. This is comforting. Lastly, we have the underscore. This is the most difficult part. It is a holdover from the typewriter, where it was used to underline sections of a typed text. In the digital age, it has come to find a wide variety of uses (email addresses and ASCII art being among the most popular). The greatest puzzle here then is to ascertain why a typographical element used to give emphasis should be place beneath an empty space.

Nathanael Jones is a Canadian artist/writer based in Chicago, where he is an MFA in writing candidate at SAIC. He has exhibited and performed work in galleries and alternative spaces in Halifax and Chicago, and his writings have been published in the Cerealbowl Collective and Hound. Beth McDonald is a classically trained tuba player gone awry, performing mostly electroacoustic music, free improvisation, and contemporary classical music. She currently performs with Korean Jeans, the Callithumpian Consort, cbs trio, and Seraph Brass, and enjoys working collaboratively with local artists, performers, and composers. As Artistic Director of the August Noise JP concert series, she worked to bring unexpected music to public spaces and to engage her fellow musicians in their community. She works behind the scenes at the Callithumpian Consort (Boston) and Piano Power (Chicago). Neal Markowski is a composer and multi-instrumentalist based out of Chicago, IL.  He currently plays in a number of groups on a variety of instruments, but mainly on either drum set or guitars or tapes of various sorts.  Neal received his BM in Composition from the New England Conservatory, Boston, MA and his MFA in Studio (within the Sound Department) at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

DORA/ANA/GUATAVITA by Jenni(f)fer Tamayo

DORA/ANA/GUATAVITA is a science-fiction performance text set in the Lake Guatavita sector of the Colombian Andes. In this dystopian future, the text reimagines the children’s cartoon character, Dora the Explorer, as La Dora/da, a descendant of the mythological character, El Dorado, or the “gold one.” In this absurdist melodrama, La Dora/da comes into collusion with Andr0id Jenn1fer Tamay0-0, a cultural terrorist whose first act of state defiance is to conduct an unsanctioned search for the remains of their grandmother, an act considered illegal in this futurescape. Through a series of semi-discrete acts, or “Breaths,” La Dora/da and Andr0id Jenn1fer Tamay0-0’s come into contact with Ida Bauer (Sigmund Freud’s “Dora”), a Chorus of Floras, and ultimately Mamá Chava, the Andr0id’s ancestor.  In this radically hopeful, world-making “hybrid” text (including video, drawing, photography and movement), poet-performer Jennif(f)er Tamayo examines what it means to decolonize our process for (self) discovery and surfacing lost lineages.

Jennif(f)er Tamayo is a queer, latinx, formerly undocumented, Colombian-born educator, artist and essayist. JT is the author of RED MISSED ACHES/RED MISTAKES/READ MISSED ACHES/READ MISTAKES (Switchback, 2011), POEMS ARE THE ONLY REAL BODIES (Bloof Books, 2013) and YOU DA ONE  (2014/16 reprint Noemi Books & Letras Latinas).  Her writing has been featured widely, including Poetry, Best American Experimental Poetry, Angels of the Americlypse: An Anthology of New Latin@ Writing, Bettering American Poetry Anthology and Apogee. She holds fellowships from CantoMundo and the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics. Currently, JT is a PhD student at University of California-Davis Performance Studies program as a Cota-Robles Fellow.

The Brig by Kenneth Brown, original Living Theatre production filmed by Jonas Mekas

Judith Malina and Julian Beck’s Living Theatre had spent over a decade producing plays written by high modernist poets when along came Kenneth H. Brown’s script The Brig. Their 1963 production of this brutal, minimalist day-in-the-life of a military prison marked a pivot point from poets theater to experimental agit-prop, inspired by the methods of Antonin Artaud’s “theater of cruelty” and the measures of avant-garde verse. New York underground film legend Jonas Mekas’ rarely screened film of the Living Theatre production puts viewers perilously in the midst of the action.

Friday, December 9th, 7-10pm

Links Hall, 3111 N. Western Ave., Chicago, IL 60618

Performances by John Tipton, Dodie Bellamy, Carla Harryman and Jon Raskin, with Tania Chen and Cris Cheek, and Julia Klein artistic director.

The Necklace (Work in Progress) by John Tipton

Marriage without magic in a mythic situation. Eriphyle and Amphiaraus as told by Apollodorus.

John Tipton was born in 1964 in Alton, Illinois. After an itinerant childhood—mostly in Indiana—and a stint in the army, he attended the University of Chicago where he earned a degree in philosophy. His first collection, surfaces, was published by Flood Editions in 2004. Two translations of Greek tragedies have followed: Sophocles’ Ajax (2008) and Aeschylus’ Seven against Thebes (2015), both published by Flood. His most recent book is Paramnesia (2016). He is the publisher of Verge Books, a small literary press he runs with Peter O’Leary. Since 1990 he has called Chicago home and he lives there in Wicker Park with his wife, Stephanie, and their son, Levi.

“Turn on the Heat, by A A Fair” by Dodie Bellamy, Directed by Kevin Killian, co-presented by Red Rover Series

“Turn On the Heat,” by the hard-boiled novelist A.A. Fair, was a paperback found on the nightstand of the poet Jack Spicer (1925-1965) at his death, and when novelist Dodie Bellamy thumbed through Spicer’s copy in the Special Collections Library at Simon Fraser University, she decided to read all 21 novels in the series, which feature a pugnacious, but undersized dick called Donald Lam, and his boss, the oversized, tyrannical widow Bertha Cool.  Donald narrates all the books and he’s always helping one dame while lusting after several others. In Bellamy’s dramatization all the male characters are eliminated from the story, and Donald is addressed only as “you,” while a trench coat and a fedora hang from a coat hanger or a coatstand in center stage, and somehow the byzantine plot gets itself told—at least the parts of it that the women know about. This play premiered in San Francisco in January 2010, and the female poets and artists of Vancouver acted in a new revival of it in the summer of 2014. Now it is Chicago’s turn to experience this puzzling, flamboyant production.

This is Dodie Bellamy’s second play, following the success of Orgasm (2006), which had both men and women in it, and was directed by Margaret Tedesco. Bellamy’s many books include Pink Steam, Academonia, The TV Sutras, Cunt Norton, and When the Sick Rule the World.

 

Gardener of Stars, an Opera by Carla Harryman and Jon Raskin w/ Tania Chen and Cris Cheek

Gardener of Stars, an Opera is adapted from Carla Harryman’s poets novel Gardener of Stars, the libretto serves as a verbal score for structured improvisation with speaking voices, musical instrumentation, and singing. The relationship of unique speaking voices to music is explored as a polyvocal event that yet sustains a high degree of separation between the performing voices. Speaking voices and musical instrumentation create space for verbal language as a central character of the work, while the music likewise sustains an identity that resists blending sound with voice. The setting of the opera is one of a “post-plague” world, the references for which are situated in actual and fantastic sources including the AIDS plague, the demise of the automobile, and contradictory tropes of feminist utopia. Gardener of Stars, an Opera is a volatile exploration of the paradises and wastelands of utopian desire, an inquiry into  questions of boundaries and borders in the physical world and states of mind, and an evocation of “a land where erotic impulses, social hierarchies, alternative cultivation and a death god’s radar mix with a moral ambivalence that recalls Lewis Carroll and a violence and artistry that recalls Lautréamont and Samuel R. Delany. The work features cris cheek (speaking voice), Tania Chen (prepared piano, singing and speaking voice), Carla Harryman (speaking voice), Jon Raskin (micro electronics, concertina, saxophone, speaking voice).  Chicago artist Julia Klein is the artistic director.

Carla Harryman is known for her genre-disrupting experimental performances and writings. Her many books include Adorno’s Noise (Essay Press, 2008), W—/M— (Split/Level 2013), Baby (Adventures in Poetry, 2005), There Never Was a Rose Without a Thorn (City Lights, 1995); experimental novels such as Gardener of Stars (Atelos 2002) and The Words, after Carl Sandburg’s Rootabaga Stories and Jean-Paul Sartre (O Books, 1994); and the book-length poem Open Box (Belladonna, 2007). Critical writings include essays on innovative performance, gender, and postmodern literature.  She co-edited Lust for Life: On the Writings of Kathy Acker (Verso, 2006) and is editor of a special issue on “non/narrative,” from The Journal of Narrative Theory (2011). Collaborations include The Grand Piano (Mode D, 2006-2010), an experiment in autobiography situated between 1975 and 1980 and authored by 10 writers identified with San Francisco language poetry; The Wide Road with Lyn Hejinian (Belladonna, 2011); and Open Box, a sound/music/text cd with Jon Raskin and the Jon Raskin Quartet (Tzadik 2012).  Gardener of Stars, an Opera, for speaking voices, microelectronics, and prepared piano is her most recent collaboration with Raskin. In 2012 she presented Occupying Theodore W. Adorno’s Music and New Music, a closing keynote performance for speaking voice (Harryman) and prepared piano (Magda Mayas)  at dOCUMENTA 13.  An innovator of poets theater, her avant-garde theater and polyvocal performance works have been presented in San Francisco, Detroit, Chicago, New York, Montreal, Auckland, the United Kingdom, Austria, and Germany. Sue in Berlin, a collection of performance writing and poets theater plays is forthcoming in French and English volumes from the To series of the University of Rouen Press in 2017.   During the academic year, she serves as Professor of English Language and Literature at Eastern Michigan University, where she currently coordinates EMU’s interdisciplinary creative writing program. She also serves on the MFA faculty of the Milton Avery School of the Arts at Bard College. She has received grants and awards from The Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Opera America: Next Stage, The Fund for Poetry, The Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation, and an NEA/New Langton Arts Consortium Playwright Commission.

Saturday, December 10th, 1-4pm

Sector 2337, 2337 N. Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

Symposium with talks from Alex Waterman, Liesl Olson, Kevin Killian, and Dodie Bellamy

Saturday, December 10th, 7-10pm

Links Hall, 3111 N. Western Ave., Chicago, IL 60618

Performances by Alex Waterman (written by Robert Ashley), Kevin Killian,Carla Harryman and Jon Raskin, with Tania Chen and Cris Cheek, and Julia Klein artistic director.

Dust by Robert Ashley, Directed by Alex Waterman

“Imagine a street corner anywhere in the world, where those who live on the fringes of society gather to talk, to each other and to themselves, about life-changing events, missed opportunities, memory, loss and regret. Five ‘street people’ recount the memories and experiences of one of their group, a man who has lost his legs in some unnamed war. As part of the experience of losing his legs, he began a conversation with God, under the influence of the morphine he was given to ease his pain. Now he wishes that the conversation, which was interrupted when the morphine wore off, could be continued so that he could get the ‘secret word’ that would stop all wars and suffering.” — Robert Ashley

Alex Waterman is a cellist, composer, and musicologist. He studied cello with Andor Toth Jr. and Frances Marie Uitti, and composition with Konrad Boehmer and Richard Barrett. He was a founding member of the Plus Minus Ensemble, based in Brussels and London and has performed with Champs d’Action, Q-O2, Either/Or Ensemble and Argento Ensemble. His duo with choreographer and improviser Michael Schumacher was featured in the Lyons Biennale, Holland Dance Festival, and recently in the Strut Festival in Perth, Australia. As a sound artist his installation works have been exhibited at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London, the Serpentine Gallery,  Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, and the Bonnefantenmuseum. He has produced three books with Will Holder: Agape, Between Thought and Sound, and most recently their book on Robert Ashley: Yes, But is it Edible? (New Documents, 2014). Alex has scored and co-directed several award winning films including A Necessary Music, which won the Tiger Award at the Rotterdam Film Festival in 2009. He has also written soundtracks for the films/videos of Shannon Ebner, Cameron Gainer, Ricardo Valentim, and Allen S. Weiss. Waterman was an artist in the 2014 Whitney Biennial where he directed 3 operas by Robert Ashley. He received his PhD in musicology in 2015, and has taught at New York University, the Bard College MFA program, and the Banff Centre for the Arts. He is Visiting Assistant Professor of Music at Wesleyan University.

Box of Rain by Kevin Killian (San Francisco Poets Theater), co-presented by Red Rover Series

Box of Rain began as a commission from the San Francisco Arts Commission in 2012, the local hosts of FAX, a traveling exhibition co-organized by The Drawing Center, New York and ICI (Independent Curators International). The only stipulation they made was that a fax machine must be featured prominently on stage during the play, so we decided to make it into a haunted fax machine, one that stood on the precipice between life and death, so that the only communication would be between San Francisco and Hell. After that the play wrote itself. The play is set in a SF art gallery once of great wealth and fame by dwindling since the death of its long-time star artist, Pablo Picasso. On the day that gallerist Rachel Rumaker finds out that her last remaining artist, the painter of light Thomas Kinkade has also died, her gallery boys discover that Picasso’s portrait of Dora Maar has been stolen right off its easel by—a child? This begins the mysterious war between age and youth, law and anarchy, dying forms of technology like the fax itself and upstarts like the tyrannical, fey “Siri” on our i-Phones.  What is the “box of rain”?  The famous song from American Beauty era Grateful Dead?  The shadowy fax machine itself, posed directly over the thinnest membrane between two worlds?  Or is it the human heart, which has already prompted the deaths of all those valiant Rachel Rumaker holds dear—but wait, even in late middle age she is ready for another romance, this one with Inspector Gadget from the Matthew Broderick flop.

San Francisco-based novelist and poet Kevin Killian has written nearly fifty scripts, most of them full-length plays, since his early appearance in the Language-oriented San Francisco Poets Theater of the mid 1980s.  A trademark of his plays is that he often writes the script with another company member, or in some cases with well-known poets and artists, producing in this way plays in collaboration with Norma Cole, Barbara Guest, Brian Kim Stefans, Leslie Scalapino, and many others.  He is as happy to dream up an idea himself as he is to eke out the shadowy dreams of others.  In addition, San Francisco Poets Theater has revived many works of poets theater from the past, as well as producing plays by a wide variety of English-speaking poets. San Francisco Poets Theater has been commissioned to produce shows for a variety of Bay Area schools and museums, including the Berkeley Art Museum, the De Young Museum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, California College of the Arts, the San Francisco Art Institute, and many more.  We are pleased and excited to bring our theater to the great city of Chicago.

 

Gardener of Stars, an Opera by Carla Harryman and Jon Raskin w/ Tania Chen and Cris Cheek

To purchase tickets, go here. To read the curatorial rationale, go here.

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