|"Prose of the Transsiberian and
of Little Joan of France," a new work created by Vit Horejš and the
Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre, is based on the 1913 poem in prose,
"La Prose du Transsibérien et de la Pettite Jehanne de France"
by Blaise Cendrars, a contemporary and a friend of Guillaume Appolinaire. Cendrars
wrote this poem about his adventurous travel on the Transsiberian railroad in
1905, during which he witnessed Siberia and Manchuria torn by Russo-Japanese war
and other upheavals. The poet's text is still quite timely as the beginning of
the century and of the millennium is marked by upheavals in the border regions
of the former Soviet Union which equal those Cendrars witnessed almost one hundred
years ago. Vit Horejš is particularly interested in these upheavals, having
lived through similar times as a young man in Prague before he left to live in
the United States in the late 70s.
The poem will be staged as a multi-discipline puppet-dance
theater collaboration by director/librettist Vit Horejš, puppet designer Jakub "Kuba"
Krejcí, composer/musical director/musician Jemeel Moondoc and choreographer
Blaise Cendrars is regarded as the co-founder of the "new" poetry
Appolinaire, who got all the credit). Guillaume died of a wound received in
WWI and Cendrars only lost one arm in the conflict. But the latter went on to
race cars, fly airplanes, shoot films about elephants in Africa and spew amazing
rhythmical prose in which he reinvented himself and retold his true adventures
the way they might have and definitely should have happened.
"Prose of the Transsiberian and of Little Joan of France" was created
in collaborative workshops between performers from the Czechoslovak-American
Marionette Theatre from New York, artists from Minor Theatre, based in Prague,
Czech Republic and dancers of Wyoming Dance Workshop. Eventually, the host
companies plan a full staging in their home countries and all participants
dream of a tour of the cities involved as well as a tour to cities along the
Set designer is Manuel Lutgenhorst, originally from Germany,
who is currently based in Chiangmai, Thailand. Luftenhorst designs and directs
theater and film projects in Easter Asia and Europe. His latest New York
Project was Mabou Mines'
"Animal Magnetism" at Arts at St. Ann's, directed by Lee Breuer. In
Prague, Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre worked with Minor Theatre members
and the pre-eminent Prague puppet designer Jakub "Kuba" Krejcí,
who had designed puppets for several previous CAMT projects and whose lithographs
and sketches will be on display in the lobby. The 210 eight-inch puppets playing
the Japanese and Russian armies were designed and built in Prague by Miloš
Kasal. Patented pantographic multi-controls by Mr. Horejš allow a single
puppeteer to manipulate scores of marionettes en masse.
Costume Designer is Theresa Linnihan, a veteran performer of Czechoslovak-American
This project was partially developed in Prague and Saint Petersburg with a
grant from Trust for Mutual Understanding. It has been made possible in part
with funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, NYC Department of Cultural
Affairs, National Endowment for the Arts and the Henson Foundation. Additional
support from Con Edison, Amalgamated Bank, El Bohio/Charas, Materials for the
Arts and private donors. Official carrier: Czech Airlines. CAMT is also supported
by Rockefeller Foundation Multi-arts Production Fund and Arts International.
Jemeel Moondoc (Composer, saxophone, flutes) is the founder of Muntu and the
leader of the ad-hoc trio for the Transiberian Project. Jemeel has toured worldwide
and with William Parker, his favorite bass player, has recorded with Muntu,
Jus Grew Orchestra, Jemeel Moondoc Trio, J.M. Quartet and J.M. Quartet. He was
strongly influenced by Cecil Taylor with whom he studied in Ohio. In New York,
Jemeel is frequently featured in clubs and theaters.
William Parker (double bass) has performed and toured worldwide
with Kenny Durham, Don Cherry, Maxine Sullivan and Cecil Taylor as well as
Jemeel Moondoc. As a composer he has written for chamber groups, dance and
film. His latest CD, "The Peach Orchard" is on AUM Fidelity Records. He is also the
founder of "The Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra", (most recently
seen at Merkin Hall), "In Order To Survive Quartet", "The Organic
Trio" and "The Organic Theatre Ensemble."
Stephanie Stone (piano) has played piano and sung in saloons for many years.
More recently she has immersed herself in the music of avant-garde improvisers.
Barbara "Babs" Case (choreographer) is the Artistic Director of Dancers
Workshop in Jackson, Wyoming. She received her BA Degree in Dance from the University
of Iowa and has performed, choreographed and taught modern dance throughout
the U.S., Canada, South American, Europe and Asia for the past 25 years. She
was founding Executive Artistic Director of the Center for the Arts in Stuart,
FL for 12 years. Among her accomplishments with the Center was the formation
and development of Case & Co., a professional modern dance company. Ms.
Case is a past recipient of National Endowment for the Arts funding and the
Florida Fellowship Award for Choreography. In 1992 she was awarded an Indo-American
Research Fulbright Fellowship to study dance and theater in India. In 1996 Ms.
Case collaborated with Bob Berky performing excerpts of "? The Unanswered
Question?" at Lincoln Center in New York. As an educator Ms, Case was
an adjunct professor of Dance
at Florida International University.
Miloš Kasal (eight-inch marionettes for Russian and Japanese armies),
originally an engineer, has been producing toy marionettes and theaters from
1920s molds since 1990. His puppets were wildly successful at the Czechoslovak
American Marionette Theatre's puppet store and in its productions of "Hamlet,"
"Golem," "Rusalka, the Little Rivermaid," "Unsatiable
Rooty," "Twelve Iron Sandals" and in the citywide tour of "Christmas
Carol, Oy Hanukkah" in December 2000.
Jakub "Kuba" Krejcí (marionette design consultant), a graduate
of the Prague Puppetry School, designs and carves marionettes in both traditional
and modern styles. One of the foremost carvers of wooden marionettes in Czechoslovakia,
his trademark is stylized "collage" puppet costume in which he uses
scrap leather, fur, metal, fabric and fiber. His marionettes range in size from
eight to over eighty inches. Mr. Krejcí has created sets and puppets
for more than one hundred productions throughout Czechoslovakia, including for
Drak Theatre, and Minor Theatre, and for theaters in Konstanz, Switzerland;
Roskilde, Krems and Bremen, Germany; and Walbrzych, Poland. Among the productions
he designed were Faust, Don Quixote, Midsummer Night's Dream, and a large repertory
of traditional and contemporary Czech puppet plays. His designs and marionettes
were shown at numerous exhibitions in Czechoslovakia, Germany, Netherlands and
Switzerland. In his first work for a United States based company, he created
over 20 marionettes for The Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre's productions
of "The White Doe," "Golem" (nominated for American Theatre
Wing's 1998 Hewes Design Award), "Hamlet" and the Rusalka puppet for
"Rusalka, the Little Rivermaid." Krejcí has also presented
numerous graphic works, paintings and wood sculptures in solo and group exhibits
in the Czech Republic and Europe.
Vit Horejš, an émigré from Prague, founded Czechoslovak-American
Marionette Theatre in 1990 utilizing century-old Czech puppets which he found
in the Jan Hus Church on East 74th Street. His trademark is using puppets of
many sizes, from six-inch toy marionettes to approximately human-sized ones.
Horejš is well-known for innovative re-interpretations of classics, including:
* "Johannes Dokchtor Faust" (1991, 1993, 1994), which incorporated
age-old technical tricks, fire and thunder, hellish gargoyles and underwater
creatures The work was part of NADA's Obie-winning Faust Festival in 1994. A
new version will be staged in Spring, 2000 at La MaMa. * "The White Doe"
(1993, 1995), which blended traditional and modern puppetry and music, The film
"Faust on a String," which received a Golden Eagle Award from CINE
(Washington, DC) and has been screened in major festivals, * "Golem"
(1997, 1998), a dance work based on the Czech Jewish legend with music by Frank
London, which was first presented by La MaMa E.T.C. and became part of the Jim
Henson Foundation's Fourth International Festival of Puppet Theater last fall,
* A much-celebrated puppet version of "Hamlet" (1997), which debuted
at the Vineyard Theater and subsequently was produced at the Karagöz Festival
in Bursa, Turkey, * "Rusalka, the Little Rivermaid" (1999), featuring
music by jazz legend William Parker, which played to capacity audiences in La
MaMa's Annex Theater last January and whose enthusiastic reception prompted
a return engagement a month later. "Rusalka" toured to Prague and
Pilsen in the Czech Republic, to Poland, and in November 2000, to V. International
Puppet Festival in Lahore, Pakistan.
"Prose of the Transsiberian
and of Little Joan of France," owing to its grown-up subject matter, is
recommended for adults only and Czechoslovak American Marionette Theatre will
offer a separate attraction for its young following. On Saturdays during the
run, especially for children, there will be three short story-plays, collectively
titled "Devil Stories." These are "Kacha & the Devil,"
"The Waterspirit and Stingy Tailor" and "The Lawyer & the
Devil." The stories are of Czech origin; the last has a counterpart in
Canterbury Tales. They will be supplemented by true stories of troubles Mr.
Horejs's wooden devil puppets encountered while touring the American Bible
Throughout the run there
will be a lobby exhibit of art by the company's collaborators and designers.
It will include lithographs, designs and puppets by Jakub "Kuba" Krejcí.