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The People - L.E.S.

Abrons Arts Center 466 Grand Street, New York, NY, USA


Site-Specific, Multi-Media Re-Telling of Greek tragedy The Oresteia is Created With Lower East Side Community Members and the Abrons' Urban Youth Theater

Abrons Arts Center (466 Grand Street)
May 9 & 10 at 8pm
Free; abronsartscenter.org; 212.598.0400
60 minutes with no intermission

"Big Art Group’s innovations are renovating the art form for our media-baffled moment."
– TDR: The Drama Review

Following site-specific productions in Italy, Germany and Austria, Abrons Arts Center will present the New York premiere of Big Art Group’s The People L.E.S., an outdoor spectacle that combines live theater with large-scale, real-time video projection. Free performances will take place at 8 pm on May 9 and 10 in the outdoor amphitheater at Abrons (466 Grand Street). The People L.E.S. is created with 36 Lower East Side community members and the Abrons' Urban Youth Theater.

Loosely recreating the story of Aeschylus’ The Oresteia, The People L.E.S. is constructed from interviews conducted with local community members, who voice their thoughts about democracy, war, terrorism and justice as it relates to their personal histories. Live theatrical reenactments are intercut with earlier, taped interviews. This hour-long performance begins with the audience gathering in the Abrons' outdoor amphitheater. Unfolding both inside and outside the building, performers are viewed through windows and doorways, while four-story high moving live images are projected onto the exterior.

The People is designed to be experienced as a kind of living television. The work repurposes commonly used media strategies such as video clips, interviews and re-enactments to explore the extraordinary forces reshaping contemporary government. It sculpts these developments into a performative action that takes as its inspiration the foundational idea of community dialogue and the birth of democracy as theatrically embodied in The Oresteia. By inverting the established relationship between mass-media and private exchange, it transforms the ‘town square’ into a public performance in which both performers and audience act out crucial roles in the construction of self-government.

Big Art Group has build previous iterations of The People in Polverigie, Italy, for Inteatro Polverigie Festival in 2007; Halle, Germany, for Theatre der Welt in 2008; Salzburg, Austria, for Szene Salzburg Festival in 2010; San Francisco, California, for Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in 2011; and Portland, Oregon, for the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art in 2012.

About the Artists

Big Art Group was founded in New York in 1999 by Caden Manson and Jemma Nelson. The company uses language and media to push formal boundaries of theatre, digital media and visual arts creating live performances, installations, participatory events and online works using original text and immersive technology. The company has produced 13 original works. The performers in Big Art Group execute exacting split second task based choreography, digital puppeteering, cinematic framing, and have a facility to deliver texts that are conceptual and heightened. The company’s to deliver texts that are conceptual and heightened. The company’s works exists in the contemporary stream of expanded performance, wherein traditional narratives and established performer-audience relationships have been opened up to create possibilities of innovative discovery. The work blends high and low technology, marginal and mainstream culture, and blunt investigation to drive questions about contemporary experience.

In its 14 year history, the company has risen to internationally prominence and is a critically recognized ensemble with publications in theatrical journals, PAJ, Theater, TDR, Theater der Zeit, Theater Heute and co-productions with Festival d'Automne, Vienna Festwochen, Hebbel am Ufer, Le Vie de Festival Rome, Wexner, and Yerba Buena Center For The Arts.

About Abrons Arts Center

The Abrons Arts Center is the performing and visual arts program of Henry Street Settlement. The Abrons supports the creation and presentation of innovative, multi-disciplinary work; cultivates artists in all stages of their practice with educational programs, mentorships, residencies and commissions; and serves as an intersection of engagement for local, national and international audiences and arts-workers.

Each year the Abrons offers over 250 performances, 12 gallery exhibitions and 30 residencies for performing and studio artists, and 100 different classes in dance, music, theater, and visual art. The Abrons also provides New York City public schools with teaching artists, introducing more than 3,000 students to the arts.

Funding Credits

Co-Producers: Theatre Der Welt (Germany), Inteatro Festival (Italy), Szene Salzburg (Austria), YBCA/Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (USA), Z Space (USA), and Abrons Art Center (USA), Portland Institute of Contemporary Art (USA), Abrons Arts Center (USA)
Funding: MAP Fund 2009, New York State Council For the Arts

Residency Support: Headlands Center For The Arts, MacDowell Colony, The Technē Institute for Arts and Emerging Technologies

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