MCA Stage Theater Residency [August-December 2010*]
Jenny Magnus/The Curious Theatre Branch
At MCA’s invitation and deepening our commitment to collaborations by artists in Chicago and abroad, Jenny Magnus is creating a large-scale interdisciplinary work for The Curious Theatre Branch, the company she cofounded with Beau O’Reilly in 1988.
Conceived as an insider’s view of theater making, both in its vision and its heartache, the finished work Untitled Curious Show is performed by The Curious Theatre Branch, directed by Stefan Brun, and features the music of Crooked Mouth String Band, one of the ensemble’s musical arms. The world premiere is planned for fall 2011.
Housed in the MCA theater on five separate months coursing a year, Magnus’ residency is organized as a circular progression of experimentation, cross-disciplinary training, and building by the ensemble. Magnus plans to draw additional material from community engagement, eg public workshops with Diego Piñón, Open Doors with Jenny Magnus, and roundtables for theater artists.
Open Doors: Office Hours, takes place with Jenny Magnus seated at a table in the lobby area of the 2nd and fourth floor galleries as part of Out of Galleries, and other times on the 1st floor. In the spirit of Lucy’s booth in Charles Schulz’ Peanuts, Magnus is available to MCA staff and museum visitors for conversation, consultation, or any kind of exchanged discourse possible during her 60 minutes. Germane topics to the development of her new work include:
• the notion of the theater as a place of work, not only physical but intellectual as well
• a sustained ecology of art making, staying in the process over a lifetime, and “retarding decay”
• the stress between parenting and being an artist, and how being a “good enough” mother and a “good enough” artist can work
• the sculpting of attention, and how an artist can compose attention on a stage
• the ensemble as tribe and clan, and how to maintain generational working relationships
Office Hours times are to follow….
Magnus’ development residency at MCA is being filmed by ensemble member Jeffrey Bivens for a future documentary. The music of Untitled Curious Show, by Crooked Mouth String Band, is being recorded in the MCA theater January 2011 for release by UvuLittle Records.
Jenny Magnus is one of Chicago’s most respected and accomplished artists in theater and music, as an actor, singer, director, and prolific writer. Her enduring plays have toured nationally and in Europe and include The Trips, The Lucky Ones, and Round & Round: a sexfarcetragedy, which Magnus remounted in 2008 in a three-week residency at the MCA.
Her 2008 MCA residency afforded a quality of uninterrupted time that illuminated new possibilities about collaboration and the MCA space itself. MCA’s invitation to deepen her experiment with new compositional processes through international collaboration was born of that experience.
Her potential collaborator is Diego Piñón, from Tlalpujahua, Michoacán and world-renown master of butoh, the Japanese-derived ritual dance form. The MCA residency is his first potential collaboration with a U.S. theater company. Inter-disciplinary artists who have received training from Piñón include Teatro de Ciertos Habitantes, whose US premiere of El Gallo: opera for actors is at MCA 2010/11.
The MCA residency is Magnus’ first work for large ensemble created through a workshop process, and her first international collaboration. It is her ensemble’s first experience training in butoh for the stage.