GAle GAtes et al, Pioneering Brooklyn Theatre Company, to Shut Doors

News   GAle GAtes et al, Pioneering Brooklyn Theatre Company, to Shut Doors GAle GAtes et al, the Brooklyn-based avant-garde troupe headed by Michael Counts, will cease operations in July, concluding an eight-year run that saw the troupe create an artistic beachhead in the DUMBO district and stage many ambitious performance works.

Only recently, the company held a series of readings of new works by a dozen playwrights, poets and musicians, which Counts planned to weave into a singular, possibly multiple-location theatre piece based loosely on Homer's "Odyssey." The scope of the project was typical of Counts, who liked to work on an expansive canvas and drew inspiration from the classic works and themes of history, from Dante's "Inferno" to Andrew Wyeth's "Christina's World" to the history of photography.

GAle GAtes worked out of a cavernous space on Main Street in Brooklyn, just a block or so from the water. The company was the first arts organization to make its home in DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), a former heavy manufacturing area which has become an artistic mecca. The company also hosted art exhibitions.

Counts was the undisputed head of the theatre arm of GAle GAtes, which was named after his grandmother. An auteur in the mold of Robert Wilson and Robert LePage, his sprawling, lavish visual pieces—which included Field of Mars (1997), Tilly Losch (1998), 1839 (1999) and So Long Ago I Can’t Remember (2001)—were drawn from his imagination and often mixed what appeared to the casual viewer to be highly disparate artistic influences. Tilly Losch, for example, referenced artists Joseph Cornell, Wyeth's painting "Christina's World," the movie "Casablanca," A Streetcar Named Desire and Manhattan MetLife building. "I think it's clear what I do, even if it's chaotic," he once said. "Dreams are often like that. That sort of subconscious logic is relevant."

Counts also experimented with the concept of the playing area. Field of Mars, one of his most acclaimed efforts, has its audience chase the play's actors and scenes around the warehouse space. Tilly Losch featured stationary seats, but a stage which stretched back for what seemed like one hundred feet. Other plays included 90 Degrees , an installation containing half a million stalks of marsh grass that filled 65,000 square feet.

Counts said that he would continue working as a director on an independent basis. The company will close out its run with a series of events, including:

  • June 4 at 8 PM, at the Whitney Museum of American Art at Altria, The World Part IV: a game in 26 parts, created by Michael Counts, with music by Joseph Diebes, technical artistry by Jeff Sugg and Tom Fruin, and performed by Michelle Stern, Brian Bickerstaff, Kate Moran, Nathan Phillips, Shannon Plumb, Kevin Hurley, Adrienne-Campbell Holt, Tony Torn, and over 25 other performers. The performance is free.
  • June 5-21, GAle GAtes et al, The Miami Project, dance theatre by Leigh Garrett and Katie Workum. Tickets are $12.