“The whole experience is so fascinating—thrilling here, confounding there—that it must be seen.” —New York Times
Legendary experimental theater company Mabou Mines returns to the Walker Art Center with the Obie Award–winning Mabou Mines DollHouse, vanguard director Lee Breuer’s beautifully radical and unpredictable adaptation of the Ibsen classic, on Wednesday–Saturday, November 9–12, at 8 pm, and Saturday–Sunday, November 12–13, at 2 pm, in the William and Nadine McGuire Theater. Still shockingly relevant, this tale of a suffocating marriage and the growing 19th-century feminist consciousness is viewed through an upended prism of proportion and scale: literally manifesting the power struggles in the work, the male actors are no taller than four feet, while the female actors tower at six feet plus. Presented with a deft touch of magical and psychological realism, this doll’s house is transformed from bourgeois tragedy into cutting comedy with a deep and poignant bite, replete with a chorus of marionettes. Contains brief nudity.
Directly following the Friday, November 11, performance, Mabou Mines director Lee Breuer and Walker senior curator Philip Bither will participate in a post-performance discussion.
Mabou Mines, an avant-garde theater company established in 1970 and based in New York City, emphasizes the creation of new work from original texts and the use of existing texts staged from a specific point of view. Over the years, members of the company have included JoAnne Akalaitis, William Raymond, Greg Mehrten, Ellen McElduff, L.B. Dallas, Philip Glass, and David Warrilow, along with the present company members: Lee Breuer, Ruth Maleczech, Frederick Neumann, Terry O’Reilly, Sharon Fogarty, and Julie Archer. The company’s collaborations with such composers as Glass, Lenny Picket, Bob Telson, John Zorn, Pauline Oliveros, and David Byrne, as well as esteemed visual artists, comprise a unique collaborative history.
The composition of the company is the result of years of shared work in the United States and abroad. The six members comprise the present artistic directorate, making all decisions concerning repertory and touring; function as actors, writers, designers, and technicians; and serve as the producers of each season as well as members of the Board of Directors. Mabou Mines was named after a community in Nova Scotia near which the founding members of the company (Akalaitis, Breuer, Maleczech, Glass, and Warrilow) created The Red Horse Animation in 1970. In the past three decades, Mabou Mines has produced eight pieces by Samual Beckett, six of which have been world premieres of texts not originally written for the theater.
Company founding member Breuer’s most recent work with Mabou Mines is as director of Red Bead_s, _Animal Magnetism, and Peter and Wendy, which won five OBIE Awards, a Drama League Award, and an American Theater Wing Award. In 1990, he adapted and directed Mabou Mines Lear—a gender reversed production of King Lear.
In the early 1970s, he adapted and directed three works by Beckett for Mabou Mines—Play, Come and Go, and The Lost Ones—all of which received OBIEs. He is the author and director of Mabou Mines’ trilogy Animations, including The B. Beaver, The Red Horse, and The Shaggy Dog Animation. The Shaggy Dog was awarded the OBIE for Best Play in 1978. In 1980 his play A Prelude to a Death in Venice received OBIEs for both his direction and his script. He also wrote Hajj for Mabou Mines, which opened at The Public Theater and toured in the U.S., Japan, Brazil, Korea, and Russia.
His theater work outside Mabou Mines includes The Tempest for Joseph Papp’s Shakespeare in the Park, and Lulu for Robert Brustein’s American Repertory Theater, as well as his music-theater collaborations as author and director with composer Bob Telson. These include Sister Suzie Cinema, which premiered at The Public Theater and was televised on the PBS series Alive From Off Center; and The Gospel at Colonus, (adapted from Sophocles’ Oedipus at Colonus), a co-commission of the Walker Art Center which premiered at The Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival, and was performed on Broadway at The Lunt-Fontanne Theater in 1988. Breuer was nominated for a Tony Award for the book. Gospel was televised on the PBS series Great Performances. It received numerous awards, including the 1984 OBIE Best Musical and the ASCAP Popular Music Award. Breuer and Telson’s most recent collaboration was The Warrior Ant, which ran at Alice Tully Hall and at The Harvey at Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Breuer’s published work includes La Divina Caricatura (Green Integer Press), Animations: A Trilogy for Mabou Mines (Performing Arts Journal Publication), Sister Suzie Cinema: The collected Poems and Performances 1976-1986 (Theater Communications Group Publications), inclusion of A Prelude to Death in Venice in TCGs New Plays USA 1, and The Gospel at Colonus (TCG). He has been awarded playwriting grants and fellowships from CAPS, the National Endowment for the Arts, The Rockefeller Foundation, The Guggenheim Foundation, and the McKnight Foundation. He was a Japan-United States Friendship Commission exchange fellow and delivered the opening address of the Beckett Chair at Trinity College in Dublin. He also received a Fulbright Fellowship for theater studies in India. He was co-chairman of the directing department at Yale School of Drama from 1986-1989 and was on the faculty at Stanford University until 1999. In 1997 he was awarded a fellowship from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. He is currently a 2005/06 Radcliff College Bunting Fellow.
Tickets to Mabou Mines DollHouse are $25 ($13 Walker members) on Wednesday; $25 ($20 Walker members) on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday matinees; $32 ($26 Walker members) on Friday and are available by contacting the Walker Art Center box office at 612.375.7600 or walkerart.org/tickets.