Panoply Performance Laboratory
Four Women at the Edge of the Desert
Nov 29 - Dec 5, 2010
Matthew Stephen Smith performs his four female characters in this hyperbolic dreamplay that follows a small family through two days in the Anza Borrego Desert. As three characters attempt to take care of the fourth, a blind young woman named Mika Lynn, their relationships shift in patterns of reaction and anxiety and they are haunted by their own perceptions, memories, and desires. Under the direction of Esther Neff, and with a sound design by Brian McCorkle, the piece questions the nature of shared memory and the individual mind’s ability to construct a livable reality.
Performances December 2, 3, 4 at 8pm, December 5 at 3pm
Tickets $13. Purchase at Brown Paper Tickets
Panoply Performance Laboratory (PPL) is a performance co-operative formed by director/librettist/designer Esther Neff and co-directed by composer/sound artist/musician Brian McCorkle. Following a mission to whip up mass participation in the distribution of the sensible, understand conceptual genealogies, socio-political structures, and performance itself, PPL creates music-driven, documentary-based performance works with a diverse array of collaborators, from all disciplines, fields, and walks of life. Additionally, PPL is dedicated to sustainable practices such as the use of recycled and found materials in their production of portable, low-budget “educational” performance art for a diverse audience. panoplylab.org
Matthew Stephen Smith (Playwright/Performer) is a member of PPL, the Dramatists Guild, and MCC Theater’s Playwrights’ Coalition. As a playwright, his work has been performed or developed trough MCC Theater (NYC), the Old Globe (San Diego, CA), Primary Stages (NYC) The Flea Theater (NYC), Panoply Performance Laboratory, Brooklyn Arts Exchange (NYC), Remy Bumppo Theater (Chicago), 13th Street Rep (NYC), and Northwestern University. Plays include Four Women at the Edge of the Desert, The Bux, The Burning House, 7 Ways to Mourn the Dead, Qualia (written and performed with Esther Neff and Brian McCorkle) Endoftheworld Lovesong, Night in the Land of Gracious Living, Shiver Meek and Mute (The Hostage Play), and Daedalus/Myth and many more. As a performer, Matthew has appeared in Panoply Lab’s original works—The Last Dreams of Helene Weigel (…), Workforce/Forced Work, On the Cranial Nerves of Barbarians, How to Answer to the Problems–as well as their productions of How I Learned to Drive, Woyzeck, The Cuttlefish, The Mineola Twins, and Mother Courage and Her Children. He is currently collaborating with Brian, Esther, and the experimental music ensemble ThingNY on a piece called TIME: A Complete Explanation in Three Parts. Education includes an MFA in playwriting from Northwestern University where he also studied film and taught an introductory screenwriting course to film studies undergraduates, and a BFA in theater performance from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Esther Neff is the founder and co-artistic director of PPL. Recent work as director/playwright/librettist with PPL: The Last Dreams of Helene Weigel or How to Get Rid of The Feminism Once and For All (Surreal Estate, ABC No Rio, 2010), On the Cranial Nerves of Barbarians (Dixon Place, The Manhattan Theatre Source, elsewhere, 2009), Workforce/Forced Work (14 Wall Street through LMCC, chashama’s theater on 42nd Street, the Brecht Forum, 2009), Schooled and Unschooled (Dixon Place, the West End Theatre, 2008), Cultur(e)ality: Loud is the Oral Diary of the Western World (The Brooklyn Arts Exchange and The Battle Ranch, 2007). Her work has also been shown at University Settlement, University of the Streets, Gathering of the Tribes Gallery, and so on. Collaborations with The Internationalists Director’s Collective and Dina Keller in Munich, Germany: The Institute for Local Discovery Proudly Presents Bavaria Rundgang (The Theresienwiese, Munich 2009) CALL COLLECT CONNECT (Prospect Park and the Englischer Garten, 2008), Fallstudies (The Public Theater, 2008). Theater direction that remains a part of the bio is primarily of the previous works of the magical Mr. Smith; Shiver Meek and Mute (the Hudson Guild Theater, 2006) The Minotaur (13th Street Rep. 2006) and a reading of Seven Ways to Mourn the Dead at MCC (2009). Neff’s other visual and performance art projects include The Silviculture Museum (installation, chashama’s 37th street space in NYC), How to Answer to the Problems (video, QMAD pop-up gallery and University of the Streets) and many more. Esther has also directed for the late Arthur Miller, studied at the Royal Shakespeare Company and taught acting for children and adults in the U.S. and Germany. She works at the New York Foundation for the Arts, curates the PERFORMANCY FORUM and performance exhibitions, and is the Programs Director at Surreal Estate in Bushwick.
Brian McCorkle is the co-artistic director of PPL and has composed music for eight PPL projects, including the very first PPL project Woyzeck, the film In the Company of Eshu, the pieces in The Transformational Grammar of the Institutional Glorybowl trilogy (Schooled and Unschooled and Workforce/Forced Work), Qualia (for which he designed two new instruments), the operas On the Cranial Nerves of Barbarians and The Last Dreams of Helene Weigel or How to Get Rid of The Feminism Once and For All, and designed software (Pine Thumbs, an algorithmic generation program) for the installation The Silviculture Museum. He holds a BFA in composition and comparative literature from the University of Michigan and has studied sitar in India with Anand Mishra and algorithmic music in Santa Cruz with David Cope. He is also a sound designer for theater and film, designing sound for works such as Tennesee Williams’ Summer and Smoke, Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children, and new plays by Michael Domitrovich, Matthew Stephen Smith, work by Ashley Kelly Tata, and more. He has also collaborated on visual arts projects and installations with Thylias Moss and others, and made his own installations including Electronic Chirps of the Circuit Birds. He is a freelance web designer, is the Technical Director of the performance space at Surreal Estate where he also assists with curation of the space. He is also a musician and frequently plays with artists such as Joseph Keckler and with the bands Manzana Carnal (avant-pop latin jazz) Djangos and Tangos (Romanian folk), and Parasite Singles (No Wave and punk). With PPL he is currently engaged in a collaboration with experimental music ensemble thingNY and writing new music for PPL’s 2011 projects Institute_Institut and NATURE FETISH.