NY Theater Review by Susan Hasho
The world premiere of Gertrude Stein Saints! was at LaMaMa during FringeNYC in August of 2013. It is now at the Abrons Arts Center for a run June 12 – 28, Thursday –Saturday at 8pm with an additional performance June 17 at 8pm. Saints! is a Gertrude Stein poem set to music by this incredible ensemble of young actors and directed by Michelle Sutherland. She has formed a collective called Plastique which develops original music, theater, opera, and plays called The New American POP Theater.Saints! and explores what it is to be an American or, as Stein says, “I felt this thing, I am an American and I felt this thing, and I made a continuous effort to create this thing in every paragraph that I made…because this thing is an essentially American thing this sense of a space of time and what is to be done within this space of time not in any way excepting in the way that it is inevitable that there is this space of time…” and so it goes in style and feel. And what the ensemble does is explore this language through their own sensibilities and their own enormous energy and inventiveness.
They, a cappella for the most part, move to the beat, move through eras of music and dance styles, move through single and coupled, gay, straight, every-racial, and never stop moving with the language. It is an unexplainable (sic) experience. And it is an experience of full-out youthful joy. The direction is borne of a long-term creative process and it is excellent in its scope and humor and exacting attention to detail. Michelle Sutherland uses and highlights every drop of talent each artist possess to brilliant exuberant effect. The set is made of cut outs—Mount Rushmore even makes an appearance, with sunglasses, and, be forewarned, there are fireworks. The sound and lights are seamless and subtle, and the costumes are eye catching and expressive. Do not miss this show. The seemingly unpremeditated innocence that is at the core of Saints! is a sight for a weary American soul.
Gertrude Stein SAINTS! features original music composed by the ensemble: Chante’ Adams, Henry Ayres-Brown, Molly Griggs, Arica Jackson, Amanda Leigh Jerry, Johari Mackey, Jimmy Nicholas, Cara Ronzetti, Nathan Salstone, Siddiq Saunderson, Kelsey Tarantino, Jacob Vine, Carter Woodson.
Produced by Jordan Harrison, Mitch Marois, & Michelle Sutherland; Associate Producer: Blayze Teicher; Assistant Directors: Lauren Z. Adleman & Mitch Marois; Dramaturgy: Emma McFarland; Costume & Scenic Design: Diego Montoya; Lighting Design: Justin Keenan Miller; Projection Design: Kevan Loney; Sound Design: Elijah Miguel; Scenic Painters: Tyrone Bevans & Carlo Quispe; Assistant Scenic Painter: Joseph Jalandoni.
Abrons Arts Center is located at 466 Grand Street at Pitt Street.
Tickets are $20 ($15 for students & seniors), and can be purchased online at www.abronsartscenter.org or by phone at 212-351-3101.