Downtown puppeteer extraordinaire Theodora Skipitares will premiere her latest piece, Body of Crime II, at her frequent haunt, NY's La MaMa, April 15-May 2.
The piece is a sequel to Skipitares' 1996 show Body of Crime, also at La MaMa, and further explores the persecution of women throughout history.
In Body of Crime II, dozens of puppets portray the history of incarcerated women, ranging from women currently detained on Rikers Island, to Typhoid Mary's thirty years of imprisonment on an island in the East River, through the execution of Eva Duggan -- the last woman ever hanged in the United States.
Like many of her previous endeavors, Skipitares' Body of Crime II contains an audience interactive installation : a "shooting gallery" where audience members get to choose their favorite criminal woman, who will reveal her secret to them. Characters in the piece are based on theories of Lombroso, a turn-of-the-century scientist in Italy who is known as the first scientific criminologist. Lombroso used techniques akin to Phrenology to examine the skeletons of female offenders (often prostitutes) to determine what makes a woman "criminal."
Skipitares has been creating both large scale theatre works with puppets and miniaturist pieces for more than 17 years. Her previous shows include The Age of Invention, Defenders of the Code, Under the Knife and, most recently, A Harlot's Progress at NY's Performing Garage. Her works have been produced throughout the US, Europe and Asia, and been garlanded with numerous grants and awards, including Guggenheim and Rockefeller Fellowships, six NEA grants, and a UNIMA Citation for Excellence in Puppetry. In fall 1999, Skipitares will be a Fullbright Fellow in India, collaborating on a theatre production of Yakshagana Theatre in Bangalore. Employing five puppeteers (Sarah Provost, Preston Foerder, Charlotte Braithwaite, and Tom Ross), one actor (Chris McCann) and two singers (Felice Rosser and Shaheen Chambargwala), Body of Crime II is conceived, designed and directed by Skipitares. The score is composed by Barry Greenhut.
For tickets or more information, call (212) 475-7710.
-- By Sean McGrath