He won't criss-cross strings along the stage and he won't fill the space with Plexiglass. That's the provisional promise made regarding the latest work by avant-garde theatre legend Richard Foreman, whose 50th work, Maria del Bosco, starts performances Dec. 27 at his company's homebase, the Ontological Theatre at St. Mark's Church, Off-Off-Broadway.
According to production spokesperson Manuel Igrejas, Maria del Bosco will mark a return to Foreman's "most radical avant-garde beginnings," which means one can expect an aural landscape of music and sound effects; an abstract, disjointed text; a brief running time devoid of intermission (in this case, 70 minutes); and a long run stretching into April.
The plotline of Maria del Bosco, which seems to mix Freud, Nietzsche and "Charlie's Angels," tells of "three ravishing, sex-starved fashion models [who] fall in love with a racing car that turns into human consciousness."
If that sounds bizarre, remember that Foreman is the writer-director who created Bad Boy Nietzsche, which featured a conversation between the philosopher and a beaten-down dray horse; a dark comedy titled "Hotel Fuck" (until he was pressured to change it to Hotel Paradise), and last year's socio-political, Now That Communism is Dead, My Life Feels Empty. Foreman's other plays include Pearls for Pigs, Benita Canova and What Did He See?, most of which featured, in production, Foreman's trademark cluttered set designs, festooned with mirrors reflecting the audience and strings stretched across the playing area.
Starring in Maria del Bosco, which officially opens Jan. 10, are Juliana Francis (Hotel Paradise), Funda Duyal and Okwui Okpokwasili. Author-director Foreman attended the Yale School of Drama in the late fifties where, honing his skill as a playwright, he churned out numerous neurotic farces -- a time he now refers to as his "Murray Schisgal period." Shortly after moving to New York in the Sixties, he left the theatre world spending a majority of his days at what was then the mecca of the experimental film scene, Jonas Mekas' Cinematheque.
Influenced by filmmakers like Jack Smith and Ken Jacobs, Foreman began using the Cinematheque on off-nights, experimenting with new ways of looking at theatre: exploiting the false starts and awkwardness of real life on a stage, utilizing non-actors to emphasize that presence, and staging Foreman's own thought-process, complete with the constant siren songs that prevented him from coming up with answers and conclusions.
He began showing the new "Ontological-Hysteric" Theatre to friends and denizens of the art community in 1968 with Angelface, continuing in the early seventies and onward to create this strange new breed of theatre that had little resemblance to the That Championship Season and Sleuth playing uptown at the time.
For tickets ($15) and information on Maria del Bosco at the Ontological Theatre in St. Mark's Church, 131 East 10th St., call (212) 533-4650.
— By David Lefkowitz