Legendary experimental theatre troupe The Wooster Group will offer an open run of its latest production, House/Lights, officially opening Jan. 29. Previews for the production began Jan. 9.
House/Lights, starring recent Obie-winner Kate Valk, is Wooster's adaptation of Gertrude Stein's avant garde classic, Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights. In House - Wooster "channels" Stein's opera libretto into the world of the soft-core Bondage & Domination cult film, "Olga's House of Shame."
The January dates mark the third New York stint for the show, which has also toured major U.S. cities and throughout Europe. Stops have included Chicago, Minneapolis, and Copenhagen. House/Lights made its New York debut January 1998 in an earlier incarnation.
The Wooster Group dub a majority of their production as "works-in progress," closing press out of the show until later, when the show is presented in its final form and given an open run. The "work-in-progress" status of Wooster shows allow them to change and revise the show at their discretion. Their production of O'Neill's Hairy Ape went through years of "work-in progress" showings until moving to a commercial Off-Broadway run at the Selwyn Theatre.
House/Lights is directed by Elizabeth LeCompte and performed by an ensemble including Kate Valk, Roy Faudree, Ari Fliakos, Karen Lashinsky, Helen Eve Pickett, Suzzy Roche, Sheena See, and Tanya Selvaratnam. Also featured in the show is original music by Hans Peter Kuhn and John Lurie, lighting design by Jennifer Tipton, video design by Phillip Bussman and Christopher Kondek, sound design by J.J. Johnson and John Collins and set by Jim Findlay.
The Wooster Group, formed as an off-shoot of the 60's experimental theatre troupe, The Performance Group, consists of Jim Clayburgh, Willem Dafoe, Spalding Gray, Elizabeth LeCompte, Peyton Smith, Kate Valk and the late Ron Vawter. Though initially receiving acclaim in the theatre world, Dafoe has landed prestigious film roles in "English Patient," "Speed 2," "Platoon," and notably playing Jesus in Martin Scorsese's controversial "Last Temptation of Christ."
The Group has received numerous awards, including National Endowment, State Arts Council, and the City Department of Cultural Affairs grants. In 1991, the Group was awarded an OBIE, recognizing 15 years of sustained excellence. That same year, director Elizabeth LeCompte received an NEA Distinguished Artists Fellowship for Lifetime Achievement in American Theatre. In 1995, LeCompte received the MacArthur "genius" grant for her work with The Wooster Group.
House/Lights will be playing at Wooster's permanent home, The Performing Garage, in an open run beginning Jan. 29. Tickets cost $20, reservations can be made by calling (212) 966-3651.
-- By Sean McGrath