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Press Releases Walker Art Center Opens 2013-2014 Performing Arts Season with Nature Theater of Oklahoma’s Life and Times: Episode 1

“One of the most unforgettable adventures of my theatergoing experience.” —New York Times, Charles Isherwood

Minneapolis, August 26, 2013—The Walker Art Center opens its 2013-2014 Performing Arts season with Nature Theater of Oklahoma, Life and Times: Episode 1,Thursday–Saturday, September 26–28, at 7 pm in the William and Nadine McGuire Theater. This deeply captivating and uproarious new approach to American theater has toured Europe to great acclaim and now comes home for a Walker debut. Based wholly on a marathon phone conversation detailing the early life memories of an everyday person, the work revels in the stimulating and the silly, the mundane and the absurd—and above all, the unpredictable contradictions of life itself. The text, at once funny, intelligent, and loopingly hypnotic, is sung entirely in a pop-meets-chamber-opera style without cuts or corrections, so one hears every hesitation, incomplete thought, and unconscious verbal habit. Finding a profound and poignant balance between grand and intimate, this audacious (and lengthy) work is rigorously choreographed with Soviet inspiration and takes the next step in the progression of a new theatrical experience.

Nature Theater of Oklahoma is an OBIE-Award winning New York performance group under the direction of Pavol Liska and Kelly Copper. Since Poetics: a ballet brut, their first dance piece created as an ensemble, Nature Theater of Oklahoma has been devoted to making the work they “don’t know how to make, putting ourselves in impossible situations, and working from out of our own ignorance and unease”. They strive to create an unsettling live situation that demands total presence from everyone in the room. They use the readymade material around us, found space, overheard speech, and observed gesture, and through extreme formal manipulation, and superhuman effort, they affect in their work a shift in the perception of everyday reality that extends beyond the site of performance and into the world in which we live.

Tickets to Nature Theater of Oklahoma, Life and Times: Episode 1 are Thursday, $20 ($18 Walker members); Friday-Saturday, $28 ($25) and are available at walkerart.org/tickets or by calling 612.375.7600

About Life and Times from the Company:

“Life and Times is a planned 10 episode project, generated from a single question, which director Pavol Liska asked of company member Kristin Worrall: “can you tell me your life story?”

We had no idea when we started what the answer would be, or how long the answer would be, or what we would make with it. When Pavol called Kristin, she talked for 2 hrs and was still not done talking, so they made plans to call again, and again, and again – finally ten phone calls and 16 hours of recordings later – she had told us the story of her life. It was an incredibly generous and thoughtful answer, and we decided it deserved an equally generous and ambitious response by the company.

Life and Times is our largest work to date. It is divided into ten episodes, each of the episodes corresponds to a separate phone call. Episode 1 starts with birth and goes to age eight. Episode 2 is roughly 8-14. Episodes 3 & 4 tackle the period from 14–18, etc… although we do edit the material for length and some names are changed, we have committed to the actual transcripted text “as-is” We do not re-write the material or edit for sense or change the actual texture and nature of the language as spoken.

With each episode we attempt to tackle a different formal challenge. For Episode 1, we work within the form of musical/opera and mass spectacle. Episode 2 we explore dance. Episodes 3&4 are dealing with theater and the genre of the “whodunit” or locked-room murder mystery. Episodes 4.5 & 5 explore drawing, painting, animated film, and book arts. Episode 6 will be radio, and so on.

We hope to have the entire Life and Times project completed sometime in 2017.”

Make a Night of It!

Balcony Bar

Meet the artists, talk about the show, and enjoy drinks on the upper balcony of the elegant McGuire Theater. Open one hour prior to and after most performances. For details, visit walkerart.org.

The Walker is accessible to all visitors. Assistive listening devices, audio description, and ASL interpretation are available for performing arts events. For more information, call 612.375.7564 or e-mail access@walkerart.org.

Free Gallery Admission
Walker gallery admission is free with a paid ticket within one week of performance or screening.

Discounted tickets are available for groups of 10 or more. Call 612.375.7569 or e-mail groups@walkerart.org.

A limited number of discounted tickets are available for students with a valid ID. Call 612.375.7600.

Support provided by Producers’ Council members Kings’ Fountain/Barbara Watson Pillsbury and Henry Pillsbury, Producers’ Council members Leni and David Moore, Jr., the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Theater Project of the New England Foundation for the Arts.

The Walker Art Center’s performing arts programs are made possible by generous support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation through the Doris Duke Performing Arts Fund, the William and Nadine McGuire Commissioning Fund, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Producers’ Council

Performing Arts programs and commissions at the Walker are generously supported by members of the Producers’ Council: Russell Cowles; Sage Cowles; Nor Hall and Roger Hale; King’s Fountain/Barbara Watson Pillsbury and Henry Pillsbury; Emily Maltz; Dr. William W. and Nadine M. McGuire; Leni and David Moore, Jr.; Mike and Elizabeth Sweeney; and Frances and Frank Wilkinson.

Nature Theater of Oklahoma’s Life and Times: Episode 1

Photo courtesy Nature Theater of Oklahoma