PUBLIC SHOWCASE. FREE WITH REGISTRATION
This new work of investigative music-theater is inspired by the published medical study of the same name by Dr. George Henry, who conducted dozens of interviews and gathered life histories from LGBTQIAP+ Americans in the 1930’s.
SEX VARIANS 1941 is written and directed by The Civilians Artistic Director, Steve Cosson, working in collaboration with Colombian-American media artist Jessica Mitrani and music director Ada Westfall, a transwoman actor and musician. The creative team is interested primarily in the rich personal and cultural history embedded in the study’s first-person interviews. These texts reveal worlds that are otherwise hidden from history and have tremendous value for contemporary LGBTQIAP+ audiences, who typically have few opportunities to encounter pre-Stonewall queer history. We intend to interrogate how the legacy of medical pathologizing continues to resonate in the present, and, ultimately, reveal how such framings of queer and trans experience can be dismantled.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS:
The Civilians is widely considered the leading investigative/documentary theater company in the U.S. Investigative theater is a method for creating new work that’s grounded in research, interviewing, and other forms of creative inquiry. The idea behind investigative theater is to connect artists to the richness and complexity of the project’s subject matter; the resulting show may be fully verbatim, fictionalized, or somewhere in between. For example, IN THE FOOTPRINT was created from interviews with real life players surrounding the largest urban development project in Brooklyn’s history, while PARIS COMMUNE was constructed from found texts and original songs from 1870’s Paris, dramatizing the extraordinary moment when working class Parisians overthrew the French government and radically reimagined its entire society.
In 2014, The Civilians presented a one-night only ‘rough draft’ version of SEX VARIANTS 1941 at Joe’s Pub/The Public Theater, with actors performing edited versions of the interviews and songs with lyrics taken verbatim from the text.
About the Residency at PS21
For this residency, The Civilians partnered with PS21.
Hailed by The New York Times as “a Hudson Valley outpost of the avant-garde,” PS21 is dedicated to nurturing artists and building new audiences by presenting extraordinary works at accessible prices. Programs include free and low-cost dance, theater, and musical performances, as well as educational workshops and masterclasses, all produced in state-of-the-art theaters and studio spaces equipped for multi-media experimentation. Established and emerging artists have developed new work on the beautiful rural campus since 2014.
The two-week residency at PS21 serves as the project’s most important rehearsal period leading up to its official world premiere presentation. Cosson, Mitrani, and Westfall are working at PS21 with a team of performers and designers to finalize staging, score, and new songs. These conceiving artists will solicit vital feedback from local audiences who are invited into the rehearsal room and engaged through talkbacks prior to and following the final presentation. The final week will add video designer Attilio Rigotti, who is partnering with Mitrani to realize a robust media design, as well as designers in lighting, sound, costume, and props, and a Production manager to tech the production. Following this residency, The Civilians intends to present the show in NYC with a major arts presenter and have begun conversations with BAM and NYU Skirball Center.
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A vibrant center for contemporary performance in the Hudson Valley, PS21 “presents work that challenges and invites” (The New York Times): adventurous productions by leading and emerging American and international artists in music, dance, and theater, and visionaries creating entirely new genres. On our open-air Pavilion Theater stage, across our expansive, unspoiled grounds, and in the diverse surrounding communities, PS21 cultivates and presents productions that transcend aesthetic boundaries and revitalize existing artistic languages and grammars. Throughout the year, we host developmental residencies for dancers, musicians, actors, and creators of original, even unclassifiable new work. Rooted in community collaboration, PS21’s programming engages creatively with critical global and social issues. It is a mecca for innovative and original artistic voices, a destination for performance that can be experienced nowhere else in the region. PS21’s Pavilion Theater is a green-energy marvel surrounded by 100 acres of unspoiled meadows, trails, and woodlands that are a haven to wildlife and visitors across the region. Integrated into our unspoiled campus, the theater embodies our commitments to the public: open, inviting, and optimized for their enjoyment and encouraging citizen expression and participation.
PS21 will take photos of this event for use in social media and on our website. The photos sometimes include audiences. Your attendance at this performance indicates you consent to appear in PS21 photography. If you would prefer not to appear in any photos, please let a staff member know, and we will be glad to accommodate your request.
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