The SLC Performance Lab is produced by ContemporaryPerformance.com and the Sarah Lawrence College MFA Theatre Program. During the course, visiting artists to the MFA Theatre Program’s Performance Lab are interviewed after leading a workshop with the students. Performance Lab is one of the core components of the program where graduate students work with guest artists and develop group-generated performance experiments.
David Neumann and Marcella Murray are interviewed by Chisom Awachie (SLC 23)
Marcella Murray is a New York-based theatre artist from Augusta, Georgia, Murray is a playwright, performer, collaborator, and puppeteer. Her work is heavily inspired by the observed ways in which people tend to segregate and reconnect. Her work tends to focus on themes of identity within a community and (hopefully) forward momentum in the face of trauma. Performances include The Slow Room, a piece directed by Annie Dorsen at Performance Space New York; a workshop of Ocean Filibuster, which was co-created by the team Pearl D’Amour (Lisa D’Amour and Katie Pearl) with composer Sxip Shirey at Abrons Arts Center; the work-in-progress, I Don’t Want to Interrupt You Guys, created in collaboration with Leonie Bell and Hyung Seok Jeon during RAP at Mabou Mines; New Mony, created by Maria Camia at Dixon Place; and Shoot Don’t Talk at St. Ann’s Warehouse/Puppet Lab, created by Andrew Murdock. Along with David Neumann, Murray recently co-created Distances Smaller Than This Are Not Confirmed (Obie Special Citation for Creation and Performance), which opened at Abrons Arts Center in January 2020. Murray is part of an artist collective called The Midwives.
As artistic director of Advanced Beginner Group, David Neumann’s original work has been presented in New York at PS 122, New York Live Arts, The Kitchen, Central Park Summerstage (in collaboration with John Giorno), Symphony Space (in collaboration with Laurie Anderson), Abrons Arts Center, The Chocolate Factory, and The Whitney. Advanced Beginner Group has also performed at the Walker Art Center, Jacob’s Pillow, MASS MoCA, American Dance Institute, and Carolina Performing Arts, among others. Neumann has been a featured dancer in the works of Adrienne Truscott, Susan Marshall, Jane Comfort, Big Dance Theater, Doug Varone, Doug Elkins Dance Company, and in two duets with Mikhail Baryshnikov. His choreography in the theatre includes The Antipodes at Signature Theatre, Futurity with Soho Rep and Ars Nova, An Octoroon at Soho Rep, Underground Railroad Game at Ars Nova, and directing Geoff Sobelle in The Object Lesson at BAM Fischer and New York Theatre Workshop. Neumann was choreographer on Hagoromo with Wendy Whelan and Jock Soto, Home at BAM Harvey, and Sibyl Kempson’s Let Us Now Praise Susan Sontag at Abrons Arts Center. His film work includes collaborations with Hal Hartley, I Am Legend with Will Smith, Marriage Story with Adam Driver and Scarlett Johanssen, and White Noise directed by Noah Baumbach. Neumann is the recipient of three New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Awards (including Best Production in 2015 for I Understand Everything Better). The third installment of the Distances… trilogy, in collaboration with theatre artists Marcella Murray and Tei Blow, will be presented in New York in 2024. Neumann has also been nominated for Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Circle Critics awards for his choreography on Hadestown. He is also the recipient of a 2019 Chita Rivera Award for Outstanding Choreography of a Broadway Musical for Hadestown. Most recently, Neumann was choreographer on Swept Away, with music by the Avett Brothers at Berkeley Rep.
Photo: Maria Baranova