Theaterlab presents the world premiere of MAGDALENA, an intimate multimedia solo work by the award-winning filmmaker and a Guggenheim Fellow Gabri Christa. Utilizing storytelling, visuals, and dance, the artist reveals a deeply personal account of experiencing her Dutch mother's dementia, and an effort to piece together her past, marked by struggles with war, interracial marriage and unconventional motherhood. The piece marks a stage comeback for Christa, whose work has been hailed as "stunning... multimedia dream" by The New York Times. The work will be presented at Theaterlab (357 West 36th Street, 3rd floor), opening on Wednesday, September 12 and running Wednesdays thru Saturdays until September 22. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased via Ovationtix (https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/996199) or by calling 866-811-4111.
The titular character - Josephina Magdalena Aleida de Jong - lived a remarkable life. Born in Holland to a modest Dutch family, she survived the severe bombing of her hometown of Rotterdam during World War II and lived to meet a handsome middle-class Black man from the Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao who had become her husband. When Magdalena's memories started to fade, her daughter, Gabri Christa, took on the task of rebuilding her mother's life through stories, dance, and images. The resulting 60-minute multimedia piece is part family album, part story of love and race, but above all, a reckoning with the harrowing consequences of a devastating illness that affects an increasing percentage of the world's population.
"When my mother began to lose her memory, I asked her to write me letters reminiscing about her life," says Christa. "As I was collecting these stories, learned more about the disease, and also details of her biography. When people talk of dementia - which they rarely do - they usually mean Alzheimer's, which is one of its forms; meanwhile, the spectrum covers over 60 different conditions that manifest themselves in complex and devastating ways. In MAGDALENA, I was trying to do two different things: to preserve the person I know and love, and retell the story of her life - and find a platform to talk to caregivers and health professionals about the disease that leaves not only the directly affected but their families without much help or hope. As an artist, I am a strong believer in storytelling as a means of deeper understanding. I sincerely hope that my telling this story will make the complexity and loneliness of dementia better understood, both by the people who deal with it and these who don't." - she adds.
The script, covering eight decades of Magdalena's life, comes to life thanks to the extensive collaboration with the director Erwin Maas (known for the recent critically-acclaimed Poison at the Theater Row), whose understanding of the Dutch culture and language helped shaping the final version of the show. The design by Guy de Lancey (who directed Finding Fellini, a play that won best production design at the United Solo Festival in NYC) utilizes simple, portable elements that work both as a prop and a metaphor.
Told in eight chapters, MAGDALENA, written and performed by Gabri Christa is directed by Erwin Maas , with design and dramaturgy by Guy de Lancey, and features a a radio play, written by Christa and performed by Wayne Miller and the Spotlight Theater; and original music by Vernon Reid.
Funded in part by Barnard College of Columbia University, Research Fund and a residency at Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden. The film was supported in part by the Netherland America Foundation.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Gabri Christa (Concept, Writer, Performer) came to filmmaking after a successful career as a choreographer and dancer. She choreographed and danced with companies such as Danza Contemporanea de Cuba (Cuba) and the Bill T. Jones Dance Company (USA) and was one of the founders of DanzAbierta de Cuba. Gabri was invited to Pangea Day Festival as one World's 100 most promising filmmakers. Her film One Day At a Time won Best Short Documentary at the Harlem International Film Festival. Awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship for Choreography and an ABC television award for creative excellence, a fellowship from the Atlantic Foundation for Equity in Brain Health and funding from the Netherland America Foundation for the film section of MAGDALENA. She is an Assistant Professor of Professional Practice at Barnard College, Columbia University, Department of Dance, where she directs the Movement Lab and teaches dance and film through the Department of Dance.
Erwin Maas (Director) is a New York-based theatermaker, educator and international arts advocate from the Netherlands. He has worked extensively in Australia, Europe, South Africa and USA. In New York, he directs numerous productions off- Broadway, off-off-Broadway as well as site-specific works. Maas is the Artistic Director of the International Society for Performing Arts (ISPA), Artistic Associate & Director of the Fellowship Program for the International Performing Arts for Youth (IPAY), Co-founding Director of the Pan-African Creative Exchange (PACE), and the Programming Director for the Off Broadway Origin Theatre Company. He currently teaches as Adjunct Professor at CUNY Brooklyn College's MFA Performance & Interactive Media Arts Program (PIMA). Erwin is a core-member of Theater Without Borders, a member of Georgetown University's Laboratory for Global Performance & Politics and of the Netherland-America Foundation Cultural Committee. He also serves on the Artistic Advisory Board of the ISSUE Project Room in Brooklyn and DecadesOut, an organization at the intersection of Arts, Science & Policy. www.erwinmaas.com
Guy de Lancey (Design and Dramaturgy), a native of South, Africa, works as a director, cinematographer, and designer. He is a founding member of the Mechanicals Theatre Collective, based in Los Angeles, with which he has directed and designed Shakespeare's King Lear and A Midsummer Night's Dream, described by critic Peter Tromp as "one of the most enjoyable, inventive, and strangest Shakespeare productions I have seen, probably ever". He received the 2016 Fleur du Cap Award for best lighting design for Dead Yellow Sands and has been nominated for best lighting design for the same production for the Naledi Awards 2018. He lit and set designed the South African premiere of internationally acclaimed Dutch playwright Lot Vekemans' Poison, the Philadelphia and New York productions of Ted Greenberg's Ace. In New York, his work has been presented at LaMama ETC, United Solo Festival, Midtown International Theatre Festival, and off-Broadway. www.guydelancey.com
Theaterlab (Producer) curates and presents new, experimental and hybrid work for theater as well as the visual arts. The company has a longstanding relationship with International Artists of note, showcasing their work to New York audiences. Theaterlab serves the NYC performing arts community through a number of developmental programs including Hotel New Work, the Solo Series, and the TLAB SHARES program. Recent productions include Reut Shemesh's Wildwood Flowers, Nicole Renaud's The Inflatable Salon, French POV#1-Body (Jacques Perdigues, Karine Laval and Pierre Kaufmann), Megan Metrikin's Finding Fellini, Underwater New York's A Held Posture by Hyung Seok Jeon and Orietta Crispino's Let Me Cook For You and Snow in the Living Room. Its resident company DAMN! Film Series was nominated for a Bessie Award in 2015 for a performance by Lil Buck, DPKOM, and Ryan "The Mind" Haskett. For more information, visit www.theaterlabnyc.com.
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Source : https://www.broadwayworld.com/off-off-broadway/article/Theaterlab-Presents-the-World-Premiere-of-MAGDALENA-20180716