Walker Art Center

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Press Releases FUTURITY, Walker-commissioned musical by Brooklyn’s indie rockers The Lisps, comes to the McGuire stage directly from premiere at the American Repertory Theater

“Leave your presumptions about musical theater at the door. Born of the art world and the indie rock scene, the show is part performance art, part rock concert, and totally defies conventional labels.”- Broadway World

Minneapolis, April 6, 2012—Following in the tradition of John Cameron Mitchell’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Brooklyn indie rockers the Lisps seized upon a crazy notion that evolved into a DIY musical. Commissioned by the Walker, FUTURITY will be presented in the William and Nadine McGuire Theater Thursday-Saturday, April 26-28, at 8 pm. The group hatched their idea for a musical more than four years ago, honing it in New York rock clubs before taking it to the theater. The show arrives at the Walker from its much-anticipated premiere at the American Repertory Theater.

FUTURITY tells the story of Julian Munro, a young Union soldier in the Civil War who is an aspiring inventor and science fiction visionary. Through correspondence with his brilliant mentor, the famous metaphysician Ada Lovelace, Julian escapes the horrors and monotony of his daily life by dreaming up a high-tech dystopian future. In their far-fetched visions they devise an omnipotent steam-powered artificial intelligence that is destined to end war and all of humanity’s miseries. The show fuses traditional American folk, Brechtian choral elements, and The Lisps’ own brand of eccentric indie rock into a unique and compelling portrait of war, human imagination, and technological hubris.

The Lisps are a New York based collaborative and interdisciplinary collective of musicians and artists founded by César Alvarez and Sammy Tunis in 2005. The current core line-up also includes percussionist Eric Farber and bassist Lorenzo Wolff. The Lisps originated as a rock band but has grown to push beyond that convention to create original, transformative and genre-defying new works. Their songs and live performances deftly negotiate irony and earnestness, borrowing elements of neo-vaudeville and variety. The Lisps introduced their debut full-length album, Country Doctor Museum in 2008 to a sold-out crowd at Joe’s Pub in New York City. In the last five years The Lisps have performed hundreds of shows on two national tours and numerous regional excursions.

César Alvarez (Julian Munro, Music & Lyrics, Co-Book)

César Alvarez is a New York-based composer, writer, performer, songwriter, and saxophonist. Alvarez was awarded a Meet the Composer/Van Lier Fellowship for young Latino composers in 2004. He has performed and presented work nationally and internationally in the UK, Scotland, Cuba, Canada, France, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Czech Republic. In New York, Alvarez has presented work at Lincoln Center, The Stone, Roulette, The Tank, Joe’s Pub, Here Arts, The Zipper Factory, Dance New Amsterdam, and numerous smaller venues. His work has also been part of the Philadelphia, New York and Edinburgh Fringe Festivals. Alvarez records and tours regularly with his band The Lisps. The Lisps have released three recordings to date and staged two coast-to-coast tours and hundreds of shows since 2005. The Lisps have been featured by NPR, Spin, Time Out, CMJ, Paper magazine and included as one of L Magazine’s “8 NYC Bands to Watch,” in 2008. Alvarez teaches studio recording, songwriting, and electronic music at Bloomfield College in New Jersey. Education: Interlochen Arts Academy (High School), Oberlin College (BM), Bard College (MFA).

Molly Rice (Co-Book)

Molly Rice is a playwright/composer whose work has been developed and produced in NYC (Public Theater, Playwrights Horizons, Rattlestick, Women’s Project, ART, NYTW, HERE, Tisch Graduate Acting Program) and nationally (ART, Trinity Rep, McCarter Theater, Salvage Vanguard, Strand Theater, Vortex, Montana Rep). Heinemann Press, Clarkson Potter, the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor Press, Salvage Vanguard Press, Perishable Press, Austin Script Works Press, Head’s Tart, Kenyon Review, Austin Chronicle and DEVICE.com have published her work. Current projects include Canary, a musical developed by Rattlestick Theater and Playwrights Horizons with director Rachel Chavkin and musician Ray Rizzo; The Agee/Walker Project, a collaboration with Rachel Chavkin and composer Stephanie Johnstone, developed through the Montclair University New Works Initiative; the book for FUTURITY with the Brooklyn-based band The Lisps; and The Saints Tour, a site-specific play featuring local musicians and community service organizations, slated for production in 2012 by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Molly received her MFA in Playwriting from Brown University, under the instruction of Paula Vogel. She teaches Advanced Playwriting at Marymount Manhattan College and Site-Specific Theater at Brown.

Sarah Benson (Director)

Sarah Benson has been the Artistic Director of Soho Rep since 2007. New York credits include: Gregory Moss’ Orange, Hat & Grace(Soho Rep; world premiere); Polly Stenham’s That Face(Manhattan Theatre Club; American Premiere); Sarah Kane’s Blasted (Soho Rep; NY Premiere) for which Benson received a Drama Desk nomination and OBIE award. She recently directed the world premiere of Gregory Moss’ House of Gold(Woolly Mammoth Theatre in Washington, DC) and Sophocles’ Ajax (A.R.T. in Boston). She has also worked on new plays at the O’Neill Playwrights Conference, New York Stage & Film, and New Dramatists. Upcoming projects include David Adjmi’s Elective Affinities (site specific), and the world premiere of Richard Maxwell’s Samara (Soho Rep). At Soho Rep, Benson has commissioned and produced work by artists including Annie Baker, Dan LeFranc, Thomas Bradshaw, Cynthia Hopkins, Jomama Jones, Young Jean Lee, John Jesurun, Nature Theatre of Oklahoma and Anne Washburn. This work has been recognized with four OBIE awards, three Drama Desk nominations, and The New York Times Outstanding Playwriting Award. Benson moved to New York from London on a Fulbright for Theatre Direction and co-curated the PRELUDE Festival at the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center for two seasons in 2005-2006. She has contributed to Performing Art Journal, been featured in American Theater magazine as one of twenty-five “forward-thinking artists” and has served as a mentor in the directing programs at Yale University and NYU.

Emily Orling (Visual Design)

Emily Orling is a visual artist living and working in Brooklyn, NY. She has been involved in the design and creation of FUTURITY since it embryonic development at Bard College. She comes at this piece from the perspective of a visual artist; seeing the set, costumes, lighting and graphic design as part of a whole. She favors real objects with palpable qualities and resonant histories over fabricated props. The set for her is a living, breathing sculpture existing as a poetic dreamscape that acts as a natural extension of the text and music of the piece. The visual language is a weaving together of The Lisps unique indie rock style, the 1860’s, raw materials that have been ravaged by time, and quirky amateur sci-fi.

Tickets to FUTURITY are $18 ($15 Walker members) Thursday, $25 ($21) Friday-Saturday and are available at walkerart.org/tickets or by calling 612.375.7600.

Julian Munro (César Alvarez) and Ada Lovelace (Sammy Tunis) Photo by Evgenia Eliseeva