Featured: Nature Theater of Oklahoma (NYC)

Nature Theater of Oklahoma is a New York-based performance group under the direction of Pavol Liska and Kelly Copper. The ensemble strives to create an unsettling live situation that demands total presence from everyone in the room. Using readymade materials, found space, overheard speech, and observed gesture, and through extreme formal manipulation and superhuman effort, they seek to effect a shift in the perception of everyday reality that extends beyond the site of performance and into the world in which we live. (-TBA 07)

Works:

Poetics: A Ballet Brut
Poetics: a ballet brut

Poetics: a ballet brut is do-it-yourself theatre at its most mischievous. This wryly-constructed, genre-bending performance uses an ever-increasing catalogue of common gestures that make up our every-day lives, like brushing back someone’s hair, eating a slice of pizza, or tossing in one’s sleep. Intimate one moment and operatic the next, these seemingly mundane gestures build to a surprising conclusion that is delightfully unhampered by its performers’ complete lack of formal dance training. The soundtrack is an affectionate embrace of pop culture—at once kitschy and endearing. (-Push Festival)

No Dice
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No Dice sees the actors of the Nature Theater of Oklahoma coming to blows with the events of everyday life. There are two secrets behind the show’s success: its transformation of the most banal, boring facts of everyday life into works of art suffused with the grandeur of a heroic epic. And the truly exceptional performances of its actors.

Originally conceived as an experiment in “non-literary” theatre, No Dice is an oral work in the great tradition of Antiquity. A modern Odyssey whose fine narrative thread is an obstinate, epic quest for a unique experience of spiritual transformation, pursued through 100 hours of filtered telephone conversations. A superb, raw performance from a cast of constantly-evolving characters engaged in a ferocious combat to convert the coarse matter of their lives into the stuff of creative art, generating a pervasive tension that grips actors and spectators alike.

No Dice is the discovery and apprenticeship of the sublime, heroic dimension of everyday language, the “cosmic breath” that passes unnoticed and can set the most banal conversations alight. Masters of an electric, almost physical art highlighting the voice and body alike, the show’s multiple actors and performers invest the stage with genuine bravura: each performance is a tour de force, an examination of the art of the theatre, the generation of art in its very absence. Just as a simple velvet curtain can transform an ordinary podium into a  theatrical stage, the cast shows how a strange (-Theatre de Gennevilliers)

Rambo Solo
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Performer Zachary Oberzan has been fascinated by the film Rambo: First Blood ever since he first saw it on a magical weekend back when he was only ten years old. Nature Theater of Oklahoma takes this obsession as a point of departure for RAMBO SOLO, where Oberzan’s private passion is pushed to its limits. He struggles to tell the entire First Blood story as he remembers it in all its sweaty-athletic details, bringing to life and examining all the different facets of his hero Rambo. (-Brut Wien)

Romeo & Juliet
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For Nature Theater of Oklahoma’s version of Shakespeare’s great romantic tragedy, directors Pavol Liska and Kelly Copper asked friends and colleagues “can you tell me the story of Romeo and Juliet?”

On stage you’ll see nine divergent recollections staged in order, accruing layers of unexpected meaning from the stacked variances, flights of fantasy, and invented characters that play out in counterpoint through the sequence of the retellings. As you’ll discover, whenever memories waver, the creative juices really kick in to construct new worlds of desire, royal intrigue, and doomed love. (-Wexner Center for the Arts)

Life and Times
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Life and Times is a 16 hour epic serial biography created from a single phone conversation with one 34-year-old woman, as she tells her whole life story up to the present day. Arranged in episodes, the length of which correspond to the times the narrator actually took a break from telling her story, the project encompasses the entire narrative arc of one anonymous person’s life, from birth to the present.

The subject of this bio-epic was not chosen because her life was remarkable or different, but because it was the same as the lives of most people, and because she could speak well and at length about her own personal history. To protect the identity of this person, various place and proper names have been changed, the entire story was transcribed verbatim, and then was finally re-read by another person, who kept to the exact timing and pacing of the original recorded narrative. The company will work with this new recording in rehearsal to create the performance and musical accompaniment for the piece, which they imagine as a new bio-epic with music.

Life and Times is the last of a series of works made by Nature Theater of Oklahoma (No Dice, Rambo/Romeo) which engage with and reinvent traditional narrative archetypes. Starting with their first ballet, Poetics, the company has dedicated itself to making work as a group, in rehearsal, working within various “high art” forms over which they possess no professional mastery, to create their own art brut. With Life and Times, the company will aim themselves at the life stories of great men of genius, blend that with the traditions of opera, and eventually bring you the ultimate in musical autobiography. (-MAP Fund)

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