Obie-winner Randolph Curtis Rand is bringing Phantasmagoria; or, Let Us Seek Death! to The Ellen Stewart Theatre in October. Randolph took time out of rehearsals to answer our 6 Questions about Frankenstein, puppets and who inspires him.
1. What was the original inspiration for Phantasmagoria; or, Let Us Seek Death!?
I first read FRANKENSTEIN as a teen, and have to say, that i did not get it. Probably, I was expecting something closer to the movies. Flash forward many years, and I inadvertently picked up a copy of the 1818 edition. STILL don’t know as I got it, but now I knew that that was the point; it's a truly strange book, and I wondered just what Mary wanted to say with it. So, asking that question, and the only way of doing that (for me) is to get it up on it’s feet, putting action to description. Also, it struck me that there was a lot of philosophy in the book. She paints a very well drawn, cosmopolitan world, from Geneva, to The Orkney Islands, to the Arctic! Poets, scientists, college students, sea captains, Italian noblemen, and Muslims! I think she paints the world she knew, from her travels, the people that were friends with her, Shelley, her father, and the books she read. And I began thinking about what the zeitgeist was like then; she sets the book in “17- “, so the late 18th century- romanticism, the American, and French revolutions, Thomas Paine, the Rights of Man, etc. I wanted to tell the story, like a jewel in the setting of the time.
2. What should audiences expect from the show?
Well, NOT the movies!! I hope they’ll see something like what it must have been like for this teenage girl to be among these brilliant iconoclasts, AND her coming into her own as an artist.
3. How did you decide to incorporate the use of puppets into this piece?
I can’t really say why, but from the very first stirrings of this piece, I knew that the creature had to be a puppet. Not an actor, per se, but something inanimate, that we animated. Perhaps that’s it- a theatrical metaphor.
4. Who has inspired you?
Hard. There are so many. I think I’m mostly inspired by other arts. Cunningham, Trisha Brown, Mary Overlie, Lucinda Childs, Laura Dean, Francis Bacon, and Marc Rothko, John Cage, and always, always, Charles Ives!
5. What film/play/art exhibit/dance work have seen recently that made an impact on you?
So many things! I’m always fascinated when someone, or some group, seem to creating new language with their work; Elevator Repair Service’s production of Sybil Kempson’s play, at New York Theatre Workshop; a couple of years ago watching Witness Relocation do Chuck Mee’s ETERNIDAY (at La Mama); a lot of reading is inspiring me; John Cage’s SILENCE, also Barbara Dilley’s memoir/auto-biography/work book, THIS VERY MOMENT, also George Mac Donalds’ classic of fantasy, LILITH.
6. What does working at La MaMa mean to you?
Oh, it’s home! This is my 7th show here. I got my Union Card here, won my OBIE here, toured Austria, Greece, and Romania from here. A lot of the faces are different now, but it will always be coming home.
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La MaMa presents
or, Let Us Seek Death!
Conceived and Directed By Randolph Curtis Rand
Written by Chana Porter
Puppetry by Benjamin Stuber
An Eric Borlaug Production
October 20 - November 06, 2016
Thursday to Saturday at 7PM; Sunday at 4PM
Tickets: $30 Adults; $25 Students/Seniors; ten tickets priced at $10 each are available for every performance as part of La MaMa 10@$10 ticketing initiative.
For Tickets and Info: CLICK HERE