Mabou Mines, one of America's foremost experimental theater companies, will begin performances of their latest, a musical-theater piece, Las Horas de Belen: A Book of Hours at their TORONADA theater in New York City's East Village, May 13. The show will officially open May 15 for a run through May 30.
The production, directed by four-time OBIE winning actress Ruth Maleczech, is based on Belen, a 17th Century Mexican refuge for women that later became Mexico City's most terrifying prison. The musical will showcase the struggle Belen women have gone through from the past to the present day.
Las Horas features the music of composer Liliana Felipe and lyrics of Catherine Sasanov. Performing the solo piece will be Jesusa Rodriguez.
Mabou Mines was founded in 1970, by JoAnne Akalaitis, Lee Breuer, Philip Glass, Ruth Maleczech and David Warrilow and named after a small town on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, where the group had gone to work on The Red Horse Animation. Though a collective, many of their early pieces were written and directed by Breuer, including his Animation Trilogy: The Red Horse Animation, The Shaggy Dog Animation, and B. Beaver Animation. The group also worked on many Beckett pieces, included adapting some of his prose pieces to the theatre (The Lost Ones). Last season for Mabou, Maleczech starred as Winnie in Beckett's Endgame.
Unlike other experimental contemporaries (Foreman, Wilson, Wooster Group) who have such distinct visual styles their trademarks are all over their productions, Mabou has shown more interest in the art of experimentation itself, attempting to find the far reaches of what constitutes theater and what doesn't. The company has received more than 50 awards and citations for excellence, including the 1974 Obie for General Excellence and the 1986 Obie for Sustained Achievement. Breuer will direct the company's long awaited Animal Magnetism, now expected in the fall. The piece tells a love story with a chimpanzee as the protagonist, and utilizes full-body puppets, designed by Susan Tsu.
Las Horas de Belen runs May 13-30, at Mabou Mines' TORONADA (in the PS 122 building at 150 First Avenue). For reservations call (212) 477- 5288.
-- By Sean McGrath