The final production of the Yale Repertory Theatre season, the world premiere of Ralph Lemon's Tree: Part 2 of the Geography Trilogy, begins performances April 20 at the University Theatre. Tree: Part 2 runs through May 12. Production sources at Yale said a national tour is planned.
Lemon's newest creation explores cultural conflict as well as religious and gender identity issues through dance, music, art. Working with collaborators from China, Taiwan, India, Japan, Côte d'Ivoire (Africa's Ivory Coast) and the United States, playwright Lemon will employ both "traditional and cutting-edge forms of international dance, music and storytelling."
Tree: Part 2 is Lemon's second collaboration with Yale. His first, Geography, Part 1: Africa/Race was commissioned by Yale Rep in 1996 and received its world premiere there in October 1997. A national tour of that production followed. Lemon is associate artist at Yale Rep.
Yale Rep artistic director Stan Wojewodski, Jr. said the theatre's associate artist program helps make the institution "the patron of the individual artist" which, he believes, affords the opportunity for resident artists and staff "to experience the work from its inception to its presentation."
According to Yale production notes, Lemon was a 1999 recipient of the Cal Arts Alpert Award in the Arts and one of 16 artists to receive a National Theatre Artist Residency Grant, choreographed for and performed with his own company, the Ralph Lemon Company, from 1985 until 1995. The ensemble presented annual New York seasons, toured extensively in the U.S. and internationally, and was commissioned to create new works by such leading institutions as Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, Colorado Dance Festival and the Columbia College Dance Center in Chicago. In 1995, Lemon broke from the standard dance company structure to undertake new approaches to creating works that experiment in the intersection of dance/choreography with other art forms and social/political issues. These projects are now emerging as collaborations in film, video, publishing, theater, and new technologies. Lemon's cast comprises 11 dancers, percussionists and musicians including: percussionist Bijaya Barik; Odissi dancer Manoranjan Pradhan from Orissa, India; traditional Chinese musicians Wang Liliang and Li Wen Yi from Yunnan Province, China; Odissi dancer Asako Takami from Japan; modern and traditional Chinese dancer Wen Hui from Beijing; West African dancer Djédjé Gervais from Côte d'Ivoire, Africa; African, Indonesian, latin, jazz, ballet and modern dancer Yeko Ladzekpo-Cole from Ghana; modern and traditional Chinese dancer Cheng-Chieh Yu from Taiwan; West African/modern dancer and drummer Carlos Funn from the United States; and modern dancer David Thomson, also from the United States.
Composer James Lo, the original drummer for Live Skull, has contributed to more than 22 recordings and performed with the band Wider, composer Rhys Chatham and singer Will Oldham. An electronic composer since 1992, Lo has created scores for John Jasperse, Clarinda MacLow, Susan Braham, Lucy Guerin, RoseAnne Spradlin and Donna Uchizono, among others. Lo was awarded a 1993 New York Dance and Performance (BESSIE) Award for John Jasperse's "furnished/unfurnished " and a 1999 Bessie for Donna Uchizono's "State of Heads."
The production team includes award-winning installation artist Nari Ward, renowned for large-scale installations using non-traditional object, will create the physical environment for Tree. Ward received the 1994 National Endowment for the Arts Wheeler Foundation Merit Fellowship and a 1992 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship. Part of the art Ward's installation for Geography, Part 1: Africa/Race, which includes hundreds of glass bottles in various shapes and sizes, will be displayed at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis in September 2000. Also on the team is lighting designer Stephen Strawbridge, who designed The Alchemist and The Misanthrope, starring Uma Thurman and Roger Rees at Classic Stage Company, as well as costume designer Anita Yavich, sound designer David Budries, and dramaturgs Katherine Profeta and Izumi Ashizawa.
Tickets range from $10 - $34. Group discounts are available. The University Theatre is located at 222 York Street in New haven. To purchase call the Yale Rep box office at (203) 432-1234.
-- By Murdoch McBride