Charles L. Mee imagined his play, “Night (Thyestes 2.0),” as a dance theatre piece with some text and a lot of physical performance. The piece evolved from and contains sections of the classic tale “Thyestes” by Seneca. Says Mee, “It is all nightmare and despair and darkness.”
Such is the typical fare of ancients, but in a whirlwind of vivid scenes, Mee bridges the torture, murder and cannibalism dogging ill-fated Tantalus to modern plagues frightening and banal, from war crimes to YouTube vapidity.
In this world premiere, The New Stage Theatre Company brings a bold mix of choreography, video projection, costuming, lighting and sound to Mee’s rhapsodic vision, resulting in a night of wonderfully disorienting theatre. Movement choreography is by director Ildiko Nemeth in collaboration with the actors. Mee’s script is available for download at: www.charlesmee.org.
Mee is known for his work with SITI Company, for which he wrote “Orestes,” “bobrauschenbergamerica,” “Hotel Cassiopeia,” “Under Construction” and “soot and spit (the musical).” He was Signature Theater’s Playwright-in-Residence in 2007-2008 and collaborated with Witness Relocation on “Eterniday” at La MaMa in 2013 and “Daily Life Everlasting” at La MaMa in 2015.
“Thyestes” is a tragedy by the Roman playwright Seneca the Younger, probably written late in his career, around 62 CE. One of the few of Seneca’s plays not obviously following a Greek original, and often considered his masterpiece, it tells the story of the rivalry between the twin brothers, Atreus and Thyestes, over the throne of the city of Mycenae, and its culmination when Atreus kills Thyestes’ two young sons and tricks him into eating them.
The productions of New Stage Theatre Company are distinguished by their elaborate costuming, inventive choreography, striking visual images and gorgeous visual design. Director Ildiko Nemeth has cultivated a distinctive style that is particular to its choice of plays and aesthetic framework.
She writes, “As a director, I strive to present productions wherein acting, stage design, costumes, language, music and choreography play pivotal roles. I create movement-based performances, often utilizing the entirety of available theater space and even spreading into the audience to fuse actors and observers in a moment of visceral reaction. For me visual elements are not just accessories but part of the content, powerfully conveying subconscious dimensions of the action.”
The creative team of “Night (Thyestes 2.0)” includes: Director: Ildiko Nemeth; Lighting Design: Federico Restrepo; Projection Design: Laia Cabrera, Isabelle Duverger, and Ildiko Nemeth; Costume Design: Egle Paulauskaite. The cast includes Beth Dodye Bass, Dana Boll, Adam Boncz, Kaylin Lee Clinton, Sofia O.C., Catherine Correa, Geraldine Dulex, Markus Hirnigel, Brian Linden, Galway McCullough, Brandon Olson, Jeanne Lauren Smith and Chris Tanner.
ABOUT NEW STAGE THEATRE COMPANY (NTSC)
NTSC’s best-known production, “Oh, Those Beautiful Weimar Girls!,” debuted in 2008 at Clemente Soto Velez, where critics were dazzled with its poignant metaphors, sexy choreography and spirit of risque fun. In 2009, Ildiko Nemeth re-envisioned her hit show for the Club at La MaMa, where the piece’s true cabaret flavor could be more fully achieved. It was a huge crowd pleaser and capacity audiences made a return engagement in 2010 a necessity.
In 2007, NTSC, under the direction of Ildiko Nemeth, presented the American premiere of “The Round of Pleasure” by Austrian playwright Werner Schwab, “the divisive mastermind of contemporary Austrian Drama.” The 1986 play, a modernist re-telling of Schnitzler’s “La Ronde,” was staged with striking visual beauty and received enthusiastic notices. Columnist Glenn Loney (NY Theatre Wire) called for “elegantly-devised production” to be seen at the Salzburg Festival. The production was nominated in three categories for the 2008 Innovative Theater Awards.
In 2006, New Stage Theatre Company presented “Some Historic/Some Hysteric,” a play set in late 19th Century Paris. It was based on the “Tuesday lectures” of Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot, the founder of modern neurology, who invited the public to Salpetriere hospital to watch patients enact their neurological maladies.
Time Out (Robert Simonson) deemed the production a “surreal vision” that was most effective in its images.
Backstage (Irene Backalenick) called the play “an awesome aesthetic experience. Magnificent work, all around, courtesy of its set design, costumes, movement, music, performance and direction.” “Some Historic/Some Hysteric” was subsequently nominated in 2007 for Innovative Theatre Awards in three categories: Outstanding Production of a Performance Art Piece, Outstanding Actress in a Featured Role and Outstanding Ensemble.
More recent productions include “Cosmicomics” at Dixon Place, “Jollification|Mortitication” at La MaMa, “Garden of Delights” at TNC and “Hypnotik: The Seer Will Doctor You Now” at TNC. In 2012 The New York Innovative Theatre Awards cited NSTC’s 10th Anniversary as a “story of the year,” remarking on the company’s “unique brand of sophisticated, inspired and startling stage craft.”
Director Ildiko Nemeth is a Hungarian native and a veteran of Eastern European experimental theater. Her desire to bring this form of theatrical expression into stronger focus for American audiences led her to form The New Stage Theatre Company in 2002.
In Hungary, Nemeth garnered numerous prizes for acting, such as the Guardian Critics’ Choice Award at the Scotland Fringe Festival in Edinburgh and the Best Performance Award at the International Gombrowicz Festival in Poland.
She moved to the U.S. in 1998 and founded NSTC after graduating with a Master’s Degree from the Actors Studio Drama School in 2002. At the Actors Studio, several of Nemeth’s peers were inspired by her unique vision of bridging geographical and cultural gaps by collaborating with international artists. This group became the original NSTC. Since then, the group of New Stage collaborators has included numerous talents, including a Guggenheim fellowship recipient and artists trained at the Julliard School.
This program is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.
Theater for the New City in association with The New Stage Theatre Company presents “Night (Tyestes 2.0)” April 24, 2015 to May 10, 2015 at Theater for the New City, 155 1st Avenue, New York City. Performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00 PM and Sundays at 3:00 PM. Tickets are $18 and can be purchased online at www.smarttix.com or by calling 212-868-4444.