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  • For Immediate Release: December 21, 2009

    Pioneering Interdisciplinary Artist Rachel Rosenthal
    Introduces Her New Improvisational Theater Group
    TOHUBOHU! Extreme Theater Ensemble

    With Monthly Performances in Los Angeles
    Premiering February 19 – 21, 2010

    LOS ANGELES, CA – Legendary interdisciplinary artist Rachel Rosenthal is set to introduce the world to her new improvisational theater group, TOHUBOHU! Extreme Theater Ensemble, with monthly performances starting the weekend of February 19, 2010. The name, loosely translated, means “collision or chaos” which Rosenthal describes as not what the Company does, but the process they go through to do what they do. Each monthly performance will span three nights during one weekend. All performance begin at 8:30pm. Tickets cost $20. Reservations are necessary to insure seats and can be made by calling 310-839-0661 or online via Brown Paper Tickets at www.rachelrosenthal.org. The Rachel Rosenthal Company’s venue, Espace DbD, is located at 2847 South Robertson Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90034. Street parking is available.

    The Rachel Rosenthal Company TOHUBOHU! Extreme Theater Ensemble schedule
    – start time for every performance is 8:30 p.m. –
    – February 2010 – Fri. 19th / Sat. 20th / Sun. 21st
    – March 2010 – Fri. 12th / Sat. 13th / Sun. 14th
    – April 2010 – Fri. 9th / Sat. 10th / Sun.11th
    – May 2010 – Fri. 7th / Sat. 8th / Sun. 9th
    – June 2010 – Fri. 11th / Sat. 12th / Sun. 13th

    The Rachel Rosenthal Company’s TOHUBOHU! Extreme Theater Ensemble, the latest offering in the 83-year-old Rosenthal’s remarkable career, is inspired by Jean-Louis Barrault’s concept of “Total Theatre” and Antonin Artaud’s “Theatre of Cruelty.” Echoing Barrault’s and Artaud’s revolutionary notions about theater, Rosenthal’s performance aesthetic integrates movement, voice, choreography, improvisation, costuming, lighting, and sets into seismic experiences. This genre of work, total free improvisation, is completely unique. Nobody knows in advance what will happen – not Rosenthal, not Company members, and certainly not the audience. This uncertainty makes the performances psychologically charged for all involved.

    “Improvisational theater is the most difficult art form in the world. You can’t perfect your technique and there are no lines to rehearse,” says Rosenthal, “Everything happens in the moment.”

    TOHUBOHU! total free improvisation pieces typically start in a similar manner; there is a group warm-up, then Rosenthal directs the group with a few words — sometimes only three or four. The words she selects reflect an idea she’s been thinking about, something related to a current event, a random verb, or perhaps instructions for the number of elements to include on stage. The studio space is darkened for a few moments. One of Rosenthal’s dogs might run by, wagging its tail, as colored lights and sound emerge from the darkness.

    Sets are composed on the spot from lengths of bright fabric, boxes, and folding chairs. Props might be added in by Company members from a large backstage collection of objects that include items such as a dress form, telephone handsets, old books, a houseplant, a bird cage, an oscillating fan, fake plastic flowers, and paper bags. The Company stirs in recorded music, sounds, live music, or perhaps chanting.

    These initial seeds germinate a piece. From here, the convulsive physicality of the Company begins. The members’ primal actions operate in concert with each other as well as the formal aesthetic elements of light, sound, props, and physical space. Text, which is primary, even tyrannical, in traditional theater, is absent in uniquely ephemeral TOHUBOHU! Through a mysterious alchemical process, the players act, react, and respond to surprises. They collaborate with each other, and everything around them, to create composition, form, and meaning. Since there is no established narrative to satisfy audience expectations, viewers are forced out of passive complacency as they digest what’s going on and anticipate what might happen next.

    Performances function formally in space more like visual art than traditional theater, requiring the audience to actively interpret all the various elements. Results can be either abstract or realistic.

    “When it’s good, it’s sublime. And when it’s bad, it can be a painful experience. Much like human existence,” says Rosenthal in a naked assessment of the art form, “Sometimes you walk away scratching your head wondering what the hell you just watched. We embrace that sort of uncertainty and chaos which is counter to highly processed culture.”

    The Rachel Rosenthal Company members include visual artists, dancers, aerialists, a Cake Diva, and the operator of the Tyrannosaurus Rex model at the Natural History Museum, among others….

    Franc Baliton is a performance and installation artist.

    Nathalie Broizat is a French performance artist and actress. She has been featured as a soloist in Los Angeles venues such as MOCA, The Getty Center, REDCAT, Highways Performance Space, and the Electric Lodge. A former Fulbright grantee, she has been working with Rachel Rosenthal for the past five years.

    Jarred Cairns is in the Studio Arts program at University of California, Irvine. He has been studying with Rachel Rosenthal for over a year.

    Doug Hammett, who received an MFA from Art Center in Pasadena, blends the worlds of the visual arts and theatrical arts into works for the wall and stage. He is a past member of CoMMit, Invisible Theater, and Fauve Conspiracy, and a current member of TOHUBOHU! and YesAnd.

    Alexis Hunt is a visual and performance artist currently living in Los Angeles.

    New York native Nehara Kalev is a dancer, choreographer and co-founder of Catch Me Bird Dance Theater, a reality-based performance collaboration with her husband C. Derrick Jones. She has performed as an aerial dancer with Airealistic and has been featured in the acrobatic Diavolo Dance Theater. She has a BA from Oberlin College and an MFA from University of California, Los Angeles. Kalev has been working with Rachel Rosenthal for several years.

    Josué Martinez has a BA in Theater Arts and Dance from Cal State Los Angeles, studying under José Cruz González, Tanya Kane-Parry, and Hae Kyung Lee. He has performed as part of the Teatro Nueva Alma Company, Danielle Brazell’s Queer Exchange Group, and Tim Miller’s Performance Art Group. Currently he teaches theater to children and conducts story times to promote reading at the Commerce Public Library. This is his first year working with Rachel Rosenthal.

    Michael Morrissey has performed across the city, from Al’s Bar downtown (Ubu da King, Exeunt, Porno), to Highways on the Westside (Last Queer Taboo, Voluptuous Madness) to The Rachel Rosenthal Company (Timepiece, Ur-Boor, etc.) and beyond… (Last Waltz, Crook.)

    Craig Ng has accumulated dozens of credits in film, television, and theater. He is an award-winning Foley artist (post sound film production) currently working in animation on several Disney projects. He also brings a history of dance and martial arts to his explorations with TOHUBOHU!

    Dan Poirier is an illustrator, graphic designer, puppeteer, and performer. He has degrees in Illustration from Art Center College of Design, and Theater Arts from University of California, Los Angeles. His creative experience includes set design, live event production management, and storyboarding for animated films. Poirier has studied with Rachel Rosenthal for two years.

    Pamela Samuelson has performed as a dancer, aerialist, actor, and musician in New York City, Puerto Rico, and Los Angeles since graduating from Sarah Lawrence College with a degree in Choreography and Religion. She has studied with Rachel Rosenthal for nearly four years.

    Joan Spitler is an artist who has performed with Rachel Rosenthal for many years. She has studied with some of the originators of performance art including Eleanor Antin, Alan Kaprow, and Jerome Rothenberg. Her artistic talents as a performer and a renowned cake designer have been featured internationally in gallery settings, onstage, and in television and film.

    Mike Steckel studied fine and performance art at the University of Northern Iowa under Jeffery Byrd. He now works at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, primarily as a dinosaur puppeteer. He has been studying with Rachel Rosenthal for two and a half years.

    Interdisciplinary artist/arts educator Kate Noonan is the managing director, lighting designer, and sound designer for The Rachel Rosenthal Company. She was also a Company member in a previous incarnation of TOHUBOHU! She has worked in collaboration with Mehmet Sander, The Fabulous Monsters, John Fleck, and Susan Tyrrell, among many others in the Los Angeles theater community. As a performer, she was last seen in Bill Viola’s Dense Presence, a film installation that is part of his Passions series, which had its world premiere at the Getty Center in Los Angeles. She has taught theater arts and Performance from Scratch workshops across the United States.

    Rachel Rosenthal, a leading figure from the Southern California arts movement in the 1960s and 1970s, has been inspiring audiences for decades. Born into an affluent Russian-Jewish family in Paris, Rosenthal’s father, Léonard Rosenthal, was a gem merchant widely known as “The King of Pearls.” During World War II, her family escaped France, moving to Rio de Janeiro by way of Portugal. After losing his material wealth to the Nazi’s, her father had to start over at age 65. In 1941, the family left Brazil to settle in New York where Rosenthal graduated from the High School of Music and Art and became a US citizen.

    She studied art, theater and dance in Paris and New York after the war with such teachers as Hans Hoffmann, Erwin Piscator, and Jean-Louis Barrault. Her circle included Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Merce Cunningham and John Cage, whose Zen sensibility informed and influenced Rosenthal’s aesthetic. With this foundation, she moved West and began her theatrical career in Los Angeles in the mid-1950s as artistic director and performer for the ten-year run of the totally improvised and influential underground Instant Theatre which created Happenings that drew upon notions of chance.

    In the past 25 years, Rosenthal has presented over 35 of her own original performance pieces – thought provoking works centered on humanity’s place on the planet. According to Artweek Magazine, “Rosenthal defines what differentiates quality performance art from mundane theatrical exercise…she took us into her reality, and for that brief and precious moment, she altered our vision of the world. This is what great art can and should do.”

    Rosenthal has performed in over 100 venues around the world including documenta 8 in Kassel, Germany, The Helsinki Festival, ICA London, The Performance Space in Sydney, The Whitney Museum in New York City, and Museum of Contemporary Art here in Los Angeles. The Pompidou Centre recently included her in its 2006 show Los Angeles 1955-1985. Her pioneering performances have earned Obie, Rockefeller, Getty, NEA and CAA awards, among others.

    In 1999, Rosenthal received an Honorary Doctorate from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; and in 2000 she was honored by the City of Los Angeles as a “Living Cultural Treasure of Los Angeles.” Critics have called her “a monument and a marvel” and Richard Schechner, editor of The Drama Review (TDR), put Rosenthal into the same category as Robert Wilson, Ping Chong, Richard Foreman, Meredith Monk, and Laurie Anderson.

    She opened her studio, Espace DbD, on Robertson Boulevard in Los Angeles in 1980. From 1980 to 1983, Rosenthal presented performances by many emerging and established performance artists including Barbara Smith, Eleanor Antin, Cheri Gaulke, Alan Kaprow, John White, Joyce Cutler Shaw, Tom Jenkins, and many others. Rosenthal founded The Rachel Rosenthal Company as an educational non-profit arts organization in 1989.

    Rosenthal’s new book, The DbD Experience: Chance Knows What It’s Doing!, was released this month by Routledge. DbD, or “Doing by Doing,” describes her signature method of teaching improvisational theater. In the 130-page book, Rosenthal explores improvisational theater and its relationship to life, offering a blow-by-blow account of what happens in her 34-hour DbD weekend intensive workshops (currently still happening on a bi-annual basis in Los Angeles). This mix of memoir, teaching manual, and manifesto was edited by Kate Noonan (ISBN 978-0-415-55102-1, www.routledge.com). For the full press release on The DbD Experience: Chance Knows What It’s Doing!, see: http://www.greengalactic.com/2009/dbd-experience/

    “Chance is the core of improvisation,” says Rosenthal when crystallizing the point of her teaching methods which come to life in TOHUBOHU!, “It’s about breaking down borders, opening up to the givens, activating the moment, and paying attention to what is.”

    # # #

    For more information, to get on the press list for an upcoming TOHUBOHU! Extreme Theater performance, photos, a copy of Rosenthal’s new book, or to arrange an interview, please contact Green Galactic’s Lynn Hasty at 213.840.1201 and lynn@greengalactic.com

    # # #

    – event details –

    The Rachel Rosenthal Company Introduces
    TOHUBOHU! Extreme Theater Ensemble

    Friday – Sunday night
    Feb. 19, 20, 21, 2010
    8:30 – 10:00pm

    The Rachel Rosenthal Company
    at Espace DbD
    2847 South Robertson Boulevard
    Los Angeles, CA 90034

    $20
    Reservations Required

    310-839-0661
    www.rachelrosenthal.org

    Posted on February 1st, 2010 lynn-hasty No comments

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