• For Immediate Release: November 13, 2009

    Pioneering Interdisciplinary Artist Rachel Rosenthal
    Shares Life’s Work in Anticipated New Book
    The DbD Experience:
Chance Knows What It’s Doing!
    U.S. Release in December 2009 by Routledge

    LOS ANGELES, CA – Pioneering interdisciplinary artist Rachel Rosenthal, 83, is set to release her long-awaited book, The DbD Experience: Chance Knows What It’s Doing! DbD, or “Doing by Doing” describes her signature method of teaching improvisational theater. In the 130-page book, the Obie winning performer 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 and is set for US release in December 2009 by Routledge (ISBN 978-0-415-55102-1, www.routledge.com).

    “Chance is the core of improvisation,” says Rosenthal when crystallizing the point of her teaching methods, “The DbD Experience is about breaking down borders, opening up to the givens, activating the moment, and paying attention to what is.”

    The book starts with a biographical introduction that summarizes Rosenthal’s colorful personal history. 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 U.S. 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 in her totally improvised and influential underground Instant Theatre for its ten-year run.

    The DbD Experience: Chance Knows What It’s Doing! lays out the processes and exercises Rosenthal invented and developed over the last fifty years. It offers a step-by-step, nuts and bolts guide to the methods Rosenthal employs during her 34-hour DbD Experience Weekend workshop. Her teaching methods were inspired by Jean-Louis Barrault’s concept of “Total Theatre” and Antonin Artaud’s “Le Theatre et Son Double.” What emerged is a performance aesthetic that integrates text, movement, voice, choreography, improvisation, costuming, lighting, and sets into seismic experiences.

    The book jacket outlines the DbD Experience Weekend process that Rosenthal orchestrates in her Los Angeles studio with a force “equal parts shaman and drill sergeant” (High Performance):

    FRIDAY – Origins
    Arrive at the Doing by Doing workshop to be greeted by Rosenthal, pioneering theater explorer and your host for the weekend ahead. Explore non-human ways of living and moving. Begin to develop a shared vocabulary with your fellow students through exercises.

    SATURDAY – Connections
    Continue to connect with the group on an energetic level. Make the journey from Kansas to OZ. Collaborate and create as a group, moving and vocalizing without language. Improvise boldly at every step. Treat music, voice, lighting, costume, sets, props and fellow performers as equals.

    SUNDAY – Power
    Learn to arrive in the moment when you are needed. Engage with transformative processes and take part in the Star Meditation. Understand your own individual power, joining your physical and emotional self. Perform solo improvisations and the Rambler – the final, extended culmination of everything that you have learned through the 34-hour experience.

    Rosenthal says: “The experience can be transformational not only for performers, but anyone – it gives them courage and allows them to take risks.”

    Rosenthal’s personal, philosophical and political beliefs are very much present throughout the book. Woven into its pages are tasty ideological morsels that Rosenthal has gleaned in her years as an interdisciplinary performer, activist, master teacher, director, iconic artist, and worrier for mankind. A leading figure in the Southern California Arts movement of the 1960s and 1970s, Rosenthal was an outspoken pioneer in addressing environmental and animal rights issues, and was a founder of “Womanspace,” a hotbed of feminist art and activism. She also brings to the DbD table years of research and meditation, facts and impressions on science, art, philosophy, transformational psychology, holistic health, and personal power.

    “We live in a world filled with competition, anxiety and fear which locks us all up,” says Rosenthal connecting the ideals put forth in the book to the reality of modern life, “By allowing ourselves to let go, to improvise, we learn to embrace life as it comes. To truly be in the moment, we can face the unknown with open eyes, work with what is, and open the door to magic.”

    Rosenthal’s Career
    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. She is currently nurturing a new troupe of performers that she will introduce to the world as The Rachel Rosenthal Company’s TOHUBOHU! Extreme Theater Ensemble in February 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. For more on The Rachel Rosenthal Company and upcoming DbD workshops, see http://www.rachelrosenthal.org.

    The DbD Experience: Chance Knows What It’s Doing! was edited by Kate Noonan, an interdisciplinary artist/arts educator who has taught theater arts and Performance from Scratch workshops across the US. Noonan is also the managing director of The Rachel Rosenthal Company.

    Routledge is a global publisher of academic books, journals and online resources in the humanities.

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    For more information, a copy of the book, photos, or to arrange an interview, please contact Green Galactic’s Lynn Hasty at 213-840-1201 and lynn (at) greengalactic.com.

    Just the Facts:

    Author: Rachel Rosenthal
    Edited and with a foreword by: Kate Noonan
    Title: The DbD Experience: Chance Knows What It’s Doing!
    Published by: Routledge
    ISBN: 978-0-415-55102-1 (pbk)
    ISBN: 978-0-415-55101-4 (hbk)
    ISBN: 978-0-203-87241-X (ebk)
    Book cover photo by: Daniel Joseph Martinez

    Table of Contents

    1. Foreword by Kate Noonan
    2. Preface
    3. Introduction (Biography)
    4. What is Doing by Doing?
    5. Friday: Origins
    6. Saturday: Connections
    7. Sunday: Power
    8. The Dibidi Story
    9. Addenda: Post DbD Letters

    Online Distribution



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