(from Jim Byk/Kelly Guiod, the Press room, 9/1)
NEWS FROM THE WOOSTER GROUP:
THE B-SIDE AVAILABLE TO STREAM ONLINE,
CAPPING SUMMER OF OPENED ARCHIVES
European tour of The Mother,
postponed early in pandemic,
will resume in 2021
The Performing Garage,
reconfigured to accommodate
reopens for in-person rehearsals
$500,000 fundraising campaign
enables company to complete
two new productions
New York (September 1, 2020) — The Wooster Group’s acclaimed 2017 production of The B-Side: “Negro Folklore from Texas State Prisons,” A Record Album Interpretation is now available to stream for free on the company’s website (thewoostergroup.org) through Monday, September 14.
Named one of the best theatrical productions of 2017 by The New York Times’ Ben Brantley, The B-Side, directed by Kate Valk, is a collaboration between The Wooster Group and Eric Berryman. Berryman introduced the company to the show’s source material, a 1965 LP of work songs, blues, and spirituals recorded live by inmates in Texas’ then-segregated state prison farms. “… featuring the remarkable Eric Berryman as a sort of transcendental disc jockey, this was conceptual theater at its purest and most precise,” Brantley wrote in his recap of the year’s best theater.
The B-Side is the latest online offering of The Wooster Group, which, since postponing touring and in-person rehearsals due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has made much of its historic work available for free on its website. Recordings of such groundbreaking works as House/Lights; To You, the Birdie!; and Hamlet have been celebrated by The New York Times and Time Out New York, among other outlets.
Development of a new collaboration with Berryman is also underway called Untitled Toast Project. The new piece is based on a collection of narrative poetry from Black oral tradition edited by Bruce Jackson, the folklorist who recorded Negro Folklore from Texas State Prisons in 1964.
The Mother Returns: In-person rehearsals resume at The Performing Garage in advance of 2021 Vienna premiere
The Wooster Group’s production of Bertolt Brecht’s The Mother, directed by Elizabeth LeCompte, is set to have its world premiere at the Vienna Festival in June 2021. The timing lends a new resonance to Brecht’s play about social and spiritual revolution, whose 1932 premiere in Berlin marked the writer’s last theatrical premiere before the Nazis seized power in Germany.
The Wooster Group’s production of The Mother had been scheduled to premiere in Vienna earlier this year, but was postponed due to the pandemic. The new production is being developed to respect and reflect health guidelines. In-person rehearsals of the show resumed August 31 at The Performing Garage, the company’s historic home and primary performance venue.
SOS Fund Successful: $500,000 will help sustain the company
The Wooster Group launched a Campaign to create the SOS Fund in April, after the postponement of The Mother’s premiere and tour eliminated the company’s primary earned revenue sources. The fundraising effort yielded an enormous outpouring of support, raising $500,000, enough to sustain the company through the end of the year.
The fund enables The Wooster Group to pay the salaries and health benefits of its 14 full-time company members, as well as to cover the costs of maintaining and rehabilitating The Performing Garage, to ensure that the space is safe for in-person rehearsals and performances.
Development continues on Memoirs of My Nervous Illness
The success of the campaign to create the SOS Fund has also made it possible for The Wooster Group to continue making new work during the pandemic. Since March, members of the company have remotely rehearsed an audiovisual adaptation of Daniel Paul Schreber’s classic 1903 book Memoirs of My Nervous Illness. Originally commissioned by Hauser & Wirth, the production, now envisioned as a Wooster Group spin on an audiobook, will feature company member Ari Fliakos, named Audible’s Narrator of the Year for 2017, Maura Tierney, and Frances McDormand.
The Wooster Group is funded by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and the New York State Council on the Arts. It also receives lead funding from the Howard Gilman Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Fan Fox & Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, Harold & Mimi Steinberg Foundation, and Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, with additional support from its Directors Circle and generous individual donors.