January 2014 – December 2014
To kick off its Second Cycle, The Brewing Dept. presented THE MAY EVENT, a “work-in-progress” showing of three distinct projects, linked by a common interest in creation through live collaboration with an audience. Each project was followed by a talkback with the artists, moderated by The Brewing Dept., with a goal of providing the artists with the feedback they need to bring their work to its next step.
THE DEATH PLAY explores the physical and metaphysical responses to death of those who remain. Through true-to-life dialogue and ritualistic movement, the play reinterprets various social and cultural traditions of burial and grieving by focusing on specific moments of loss.
The play creates a dialogue about the experiences of death that remain largely taboo. It draws inspiration from such universal questions as, what happens to us when we die? Why is it important to commemorate death with ritual? Which aspects of death rituals are most transcendent? How do mundane acts become sacred? How should we grieve?
ALYSON VELASCO FORTNER (co-creator/director) is compelled to create socially critical and experimental theatre. She has assistant directed and stage managed for The Brewing Department, The Fresh Fruit Festival, New York Theatre Workshop, Polybe + Seats, Everywhere Theatre Group, and Incubator Short Form.
RACHEL HUDSON (co-creator/playwright) is a visual artist and writer based in Brooklyn. The Death Play is her first play.
THE DEATH PLAY in rehearsal:
Cody and a small ensemble of actors created an original devised piece exploring the shared themes of Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Ibsen’s Ghosts: madness, paternity, lineage, creation, art, religion, morality, sex, sin, suicide, destruction, death, and the paralyzing anxieties of youth. This deeply exploratory workshop aimed not to create a “full product” in any sense, but rather to share something that will help the artists make the road map for the rest of the project and point them in the direction of its next step.
CODY HOLLIDAY HAEFNER is a founding member of The Brewing Dept. and a New York-based freelance director. His past work with TBD includes co-directing Ibsen’s The Lady from the Sea in the fall of 2013, assistant directing Emily Kaplan’s August 2013 production of bobrauschenbergamerica, and playing an integral role in the development of Brian LaPerche’s new play, Naked, in July of 2013.
HAMLETGHOSTS in rehearsal:
In July of 2013, Rachel Peck quit her job and spent two months living and traveling in Guatemala. During that time, what began as a series of casual conversations became a more formal, recorded collection of testimonies from dozens of Guatemalans — men and women who, like all people living in the country, still feel the burdens of poverty, the daily joys of life in Xela, and the impact of Guatemala’s violent 36 year civil war. This piece is a rendering of those histories, a project that hopes to bring the voices of Guatemalans, as they were experienced by an American woman, to the New York stage. It represents an attempt to open our conversation about politics, war and performance, to think about language and translation as a tool of both liberation and violence, and to listen more urgently to the stories from a war that ended less than 20 years ago, just a few hours from our southern border.
Rachel Peck lives and works in New York where, after graduating from Barnard College with a degree in English and Theater, she has consulted as a dramaturg on a number of theater projects throughout the city. This collaboration with The Brewing Dept. marks her first attempt at writing / translating a performance piece.
Photos from the trip where THE GUATEMALA PROJECT was conceived: