October 23, 2015

IHP Presents The Wooster Group On Screen and in Person, a Special Two-Film Series in November

Directors Will Discuss Their Extraordinary Work

November 5 Screening of Rumstick Road Includes Discussion with Filmmaker Ken Kobland

November 19 Screening of White Homeland Commando Features Discussion with Director and TWG Founding Member Elizabeth LeCompte

International House Philadelphia presents two screenings of acclaimed work by The Wooster Group, the New York-based experimental theater and media ensemble: Rumstick Road on Thursday, November 5, 2015 and White Homeland Commando on Thursday, November 19, 2015. The screenings are at 7 p.m. at International House’s Ibrahim Theater, 3701 Chestnut Street, in Philadelphia. This series is presented in association with the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania, and FringeArts, and in collaboration with New York’s Electronic Arts Intermix.

For over 40 years, this company of artists has explored the interplay between media and live performance, transgressing traditions of theater and dance on stage and in single-channel video and media installations. Founded in 1975 by Elizabeth LeCompte and Spalding Gray, The Wooster Group has played a pivotal role in bringing technologically sophisticated and evocative uses of sound, film and video into the realm of contemporary theater. Constructed as assemblages of surprising juxtapositions, their productions draw on a wide array of cultural references and employ a strategy of layering eclectic elements, including found materials, dance, multi-track scoring, classic texts, and an architectonic approach to design.

Rumstick Road
Thursday, November 5, 2015 @ 7 p.m.
Video reconstruction by Elizabeth LeCompte and Ken Kobland
1977/2013, Video, 75 min.
Screening followed by a discussion with Ken Kobland, led by IHP Program Curator Jesse Pires.

The Wooster Group’s 1977 production Rumstick Road has been recognized by critics and scholars as a landmark work that helped usher in a new era of experimental performance. Composed by Spalding Gray and Elizabeth LeCompte in response to the suicide of Gray’s mother, Rumstick Road combines Gray’s personal recorded conversations, family letters, the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, 35mm slides, music, and dance. The video reconstruction keeps faith with the theater piece by registering, in a new composite, the vivid texture of time and memory that shaped the original production. LeCompte and filmmaker Ken Kobland have worked with Wooster Group archivist Clay Hapaz to layer, juxtapose, and blend together numerous archival fragments – including U-Matic video, Super 8 film, reel-to-reel audio tapes, photographs, and slides – in order to reconstruct that lost performance.

White Homeland Commando
Thursday, November 19, 2015 @ 7 p.m.
Director: Elizabeth LeCompte
1992, Video, 63 min.
Screening followed by a discussion between Rebecca Cleman of Electronic Arts Intermix and Elizabeth LeCompte

White Homeland Commando is The Wooster Group’s skewed take on the police procedural, conceived at the start of the true-crime craze. The first totally stand-alone video by the Group, it plays like a transmission from a parallel universe. The plot centers on the infiltration of a white supremacist cult by a special unit of the police force. Company members Willem Dafoe and Ron Vawter are featured as shady characters on opposite sides of the law, with Dafoe playing a ragged new cult inductee, and Vawter a jaded, hard-boiled detective. Written for the company in 1987 by Michael Kirby, the teleplay is a Structuralist narrative that interweaves the stories of eight characters – four cops and four white supremacists -- and mixes experimental theater strategies with the aesthetics of popular television crime shows.