ANGELUS NOVUS (2008)

NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS breaks ground with its debut performance, ANGELUS NOVUS. Conceived by Angeline Gragasin, Written by Mostmodernist, and Directed by Richard Newman, NOVUS is a stylish, rigorous, ultra-contemporary production inspired by the combined traditions of Medieval Pageantry and American Historical re-enactments, as well as consumer culture, North Korea, Commedia dell’Arte, and the Internet. The play’s concept is based on Paul Klee’s 1920 painting “Angelus Novus” and the related writings of German philosopher Walter Benjamin. Channeling cable television through clown and dance, circus and spectacle, karaoke and commercials, ANGELUS NOVUS uses athletic physicality, original live and electronic music, architectural costume, and large object acrobatics to depict power struggle, truth-telling, and social activism in an urban community.

The project was researched and developed collaboratively over the course of one year before the entire ensemble of 12 converges for six weeks of intensive training and rehearsals in preparation for the first phase ...

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NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS breaks ground with its debut performance, ANGELUS NOVUS. Conceived by Angeline Gragasin, Written by Mostmodernist, and Directed by Richard Newman, NOVUS is a stylish, rigorous, ultra-contemporary production inspired by the combined traditions of Medieval Pageantry and American Historical re-enactments, as well as consumer culture, North Korea, Commedia dell’Arte, and the Internet. The play’s concept is based on Paul Klee’s 1920 painting “Angelus Novus” and the related writings of German philosopher Walter Benjamin. Channeling cable television through clown and dance, circus and spectacle, karaoke and commercials, ANGELUS NOVUS uses athletic physicality, original live and electronic music, architectural costume, and large object acrobatics to depict power struggle, truth-telling, and social activism in an urban community.

The project was researched and developed collaboratively over the course of one year before the entire ensemble of 12 converges for six weeks of intensive training and rehearsals in preparation for the first phase of public presentation. Director Richard Newman will lead a deeply physical investigation of American pageantry, archetype, and history in order to create a heightened space where artists can be free to take risks and realize their imaginative capabilities. These first performances will take place in Fall 2008 at a variety of venues, including Links Hall and AV-aerie. Future locations will include public parks, abandoned lots, community gardens, and neighborhood/art festivals in underserved neighborhoods throughout the Chicago area.

Our purpose and process lies somewhere between a stimulus check and a slap in the face to actors and audiences accustomed to the conventional theatrical experience, which we believe is overwhelmingly irrelevant to contemporary audiences which are socio-economically and culturally diverse. To counter this, ANGELUS NOVUS was conceived as a mobile theatrical event, to be presented inside and around “TiNT,”(a 14-ft box truck and gallery owned and operated by the BLOC artist collective) to explore the effects of devising a performance for local populations with limited or no access to theatre. The artists of ANGELUS NOVUS will engage with these communities by offering free performances, leading actor-driven theatre workshops and demonstrations for both children and adults, and organizing panel discussions with local leaders on the preservation of community history and identity.

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