American Realness


American Realness is a festival of contemporary performance returning to the Abrons Arts Center for its third consecutive year, January 5-15, 2012.

The festival features dance, theater, performance and song-based performance artists who employ experimental tactics in their performance works. These include performative realness, self reflexivity, make believe, transformation, the ecstatic body and an interplay between spectacle and banality. The artists of American Realness are creating theater that engages audiences with a rich perceptual experience of light, sound, thought, text, movement and song. This is not psychological realism. This is not pretty dancing on a stage. It is theater, dance, performance and song as phenomenological event. These works are created with rigor and the performances are fully embodied. American Realness is digging deep, getting wet and inviting you to come along for the ride.

For the past three years the festival has served as a platform for American artists to reclaim and reshape the identity and trajectory of their contemporary performance forms. American Realness welcomes the global performing arts marketplace that converges in NYC annually for the Association of Performing Arts Presenter’s Conference (APAP) to bear witness to the pop-tastic explosion that is redefining American Performance. The 2012 version of the festival is, at last, the fully explored idea American Realness has always wanted to be.

For 2012 the festival, engages all three theater spaces at the Abrons Arts Center for a immersive experience of forty-six performances of twenty productions over ten days. Performances include the world premiere of Big Art Group’s Broke House, a contemporary spin on Chekhov’s Three Sisters and four U.S. premieres including Daniel Linehan’s Zombie Aporia, a dance based on the structure of the rock concert, Montage for Three, an exploration of portraiture and representation, Jennifer Lacey’s intimate Gattica and Eleanor Bauer and Heather Lang’s cunning trash, drag spectacle, The Heather Lang Show by Eleanor Bauer and Vice Versa – Trash is Fierce Episode 2: Destiny’s Realness. In addition American Realness is thrilled to present the New York premiere of San Francisco based Laura Arrington’s exploration of feminine identity and tropes, Hot Wings.

The performance program also features encore engagements for the seductively subversive (M)imosa/Twenty Looks or Paris is Burning at the Judson Church (M) by Cecelia Bengolea, Francois Chaigunad, Marlene Monteiro Freitas and Trajal Harrell, as well as Harrell’s irregular addition to the Twenty Looks series, Antigone Jr. Additional encores include the return of the strange and wondrous TOOL IS LOOT from Wally Cardona and Jennifer Lacey with Jonathan Bepler, Jeremy Wade’s “generative sphere of uncertainty,” Fountain, and the sweeping glory and disembodied wonder of John Jasperse’s Canyon.

American Realness has once again engaged its veteran festival artists Ann Liv Young, Jack Ferver and Keith Hennessy who will return with presentations of new, recent and improvised works including Sleeping Beauty Part 1 (Young), Me, Michelle (Ferver) and Almost (Hennessy). First time festival artists Todd Shalom and Niegel Smith of Elastic City will present Salve, a poetic, participatory walk through Abrons Arts Center. Each walk holds under ten people.

In addition the 2012 program brings audiences an expanded disciplinary range that includes song-based performance artist Cynthia Hopkins in a work-in-progress showing of This Clement World, her forthcoming poignant meditation on climate change, and Holcombe Waller in Visions of a Song Man, a concert that includes songs from his performance works Surfacing and Into the Dark Unknown: The Hope Chest.

The 2012 program also welcomes the implementation of Show & Tell, a free series of informal conversations and work-in-progress showings from artists with new projects in development. Showings and talks will be hosted by DD Dorvillier with André Lepecki, Reggie Wilson/Fist & Heel Performance Group with Susan Manning, Luciana Achugar, Miguel Gutierrez and the Powerful People with Jenn Joy, Big Dance Theater, Keith Hennessy and Holcombe Waller with Miguel Gutierrez and Cynthia Hopkins.

While at Abrons for performances, audiences will have access to American Realness’ two exhibitions. UNREAL features staged and candid portraits along with performance photography from the extensive collection of images by photographer Michael Hart. The images will be accompanied by a text by writer, performer and composer, Ryan Tracy. The exhibition program also features “THE Sarah Michelson,” a survey of the iconic and mythological, sculptural or decorative representations of the self through which Sarah Michelson visibly owns and authors her performance works. “THE Sarah Michelson” includes paintings and sculptural neon created for Michelson’s work by TM Davy, Claude Wampler and Charlotte Cullinan.

American Realness patrons can further engage with the work of festival artists through the @r Shop, a bookshop featuring performance texts, catalogues and artist merchandise. The @r Café by Push Cart Coffee will offer patrons a respite from their marathon performance going, where they can sit down and enjoy a coffee, sandwich, salad, beer or glass of wine.

Of course American Realness would not be complete without welcoming back the irreverent revelry that is American PUSSYFAGGOT! Realness. Under the direction of nightlife and performance impresario Earl Dax, APF!R brings you the dynamic milieu of New York Nightlife in a party jam-packed with two stages for performances along with plenty of cocktails and a space for ongoing conversations. This year’s APF!R will take the stage on Saturday, January 7 at Public Assembly in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 8:00 PM-4:00 AM.

American Realness 2012 is going for broke. We hope you will join us at the Abrons Arts Center on Manhattan’s Lower East Side for some of the most rigorous and ambitious American performance works from in and outside of the United States. Come downtown and spend a day, or two or five or all ten. You won’t be sorry.