David Gordon and his Pick Up Performance Co(s) take over Joyce SoHo for the month of June with a world premiere work based on the writings of Nobel Prize-winner Luigi Pirandello and the music of Giacomo Puccini. In this interview with Time Out New York’s Gia Kourlas, the postmodern Judson dance pioneer talks about how the project developed, his approach to directing, and how he managed to divide Joyce SoHo into four distinct stages.
In recent years, choreographer and director David Gordon has tackled Brecht, Ionesco and Shakespeare in dance-theater productions that shift between illusion and reality. For the postmodern artist—an original member of the experimental Judson Dance Theater—the shift between theater and life is endlessly fascinating (and, in his work, purposefully hazy). Now he takes on the Italian writer Luigi Pirandello, whose work so closely mirrors his own that it’s sometimes difficult to figure out where one leaves off and the other begins. In Beginning of the End of the…, which is at the Joyce Soho for four weeks beginning June 1, Gordon has invented a choreographic world that melds three of Pirandello’s works (the play Six Characters in Search of an Author, the short story “A Character’s Tragedy” and the one-act The Man with the Flower in His Mouth) with his humorous, dictatorial directing style that puts his thoughts in everyone’s mouths—including that of his wife, Valda Setterfield. He spoke about the piece in his Soho loft.
How did this project develop?
The Pirandello has to do with all the stuff I’ve been doing lately—the Pirandello following the Brecht and the Brecht following the Ionesco.
It’s a logical progression?
It’s so logical, and it’s so connected. I realize that Pirandello is talking about illusion and reality. That’s what Ionesco is dealing with and, oh, wait a minute: Everybody I’m choosing to work with along the way seems to have either known about the other person, experienced the other person, is moving on from the other person.… I just seem to be on some historical trail that I didn’t know existed. I went online and looked up Pirandello, and there are a bunch of short videos made in London with an English cast doing parts of Six Characters while somebody talks about the relationship between Pirandello and Ionesco and Brecht. I never heard anybody say that before. I had nothing to compare what I was thinking to, but there it is. The [scene in Six Characters] about how two babies die—I turn them into Raggedy Ann and Andy, thinking how inventive I am—and then I look at this little bit of tape, and they bring in two dummies. I was thinking about all of this, and I realized that a long time ago, I made a piece called Wordsworth and the Motor  and it happened here [at the loft]. I rented bleachers and put them at both ends of the space; Valda and I came in on the two sides, and we began to do the same concert. A wall was built in between, so the audience that first saw each other now could not only not see each other, they couldn’t see the other one of us. They could only hear us.
Read the full article here.
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