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"Asphyxia and Other Promises" by NaCl,
a resident company of La MaMa

Imagistic physical theater work is like Beckett on stilts.

April 15 to May 2
La MaMa E.T.C. (First Floor Theater), 74A East Fourth Street
Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00 pm, Sundays at 3:30 pm and 8:00 pm
$12/tdf, (212) 475-7710
"Asphyxia and Other Promises" is a new work by North American Cultural Laboratory (NaCl), a resident company of La MaMa. This company's creative style blends physical theater, song, stilt-walking, music and original text into a multi-layered experience that has been likened to "Beckett on stilts." In this play, a woman exchanges her unborn daughter for a scrap of food and the child is raised in a convent known as the Order of Disorder. During her life in the magical, absurd Cloister, she is led by a giant, insect-like stilt figure, ministered by mischievous spirits and tutored by a mad and rebellious "Sister." The playscript is underpinned with imagery deriving from the repression and chaos of original sin, the impulse to violence and the generally foul lives of the downtrodden for whom salvation is a misappplied dream. Directed by Brad Krumholz, it features Tannis Kowalchuk, Allison Waters, Roberto Andrioli, John Sullivan and text by Henry Israeli.

NaCl is a process-oriented, collaborative ensemble with roots in Primus Theatre, a prominent alternative theater in Canada. This project, like the company's debut piece, "A Canon for the Blue Moon," reflects its commitment to a philosophy of ensemble work that involves daily actor training and techniques of text and performance-building from Primus Theatre that were originally derived from Eugenio Barba's Odin Teatret. "Asphyxia" has evolved from scratch in a four-month daily workshop at La MaMa, in which playwright Henry Israeli wrote the play as he watched the ensemble work out early stages of development. Costumes were designed by Erica Nieves in collaboration with the actors. Sound artist John Sullivan, who doubles as an actor in the show, will create live digital interactive sound during the performance using a newfangled Roland sampler and, with a wave of his rhythm machine, will distort the other actors' voices, footsteps and songs.

The ensemble was founded by American director Brad Krumholz and Canadian-born actress Tannis Kowalchuk, who originally met while they were working in Canada's Primus Theater in 1991. Kowalchuk plays the title role in "Asphyxia." She was a core member of Primus for eight years and appeared in the three previous NaCl productions, including "A Canon for the Blue Moon" last season. She has toured across Canada many times and performed in Italy, France and Denmark. She has taught a unique approach to physical and vocal training in Universities and schools across North America and Europe. Her children's performance, "Journey of the Dragon Boy," was produced in Canadian regional theaters and published with PUC.

Director Brad Krumholz, Artistic Director of NaCl, is American by birth and has worked in experimental theater since 1990. He studied with Odin Teatret in Denmark, performed with Primus Theater in Canada and created Gallopaghos Theater, a stilt-walking troupe, here in New York. He was also a founder and creative member of Cleveland's Theatre Labyrinth, an experimental theater which has toured to Brazil and Canada. He co-directed Primus Theater's "An Arsenal of Ancestors." He has staged all three of NaCl's previous productions to-date, two which have been performed in Canada, "The Secret Storey" and "The Passion according to G.H.", and the one which was performed at La MaMa, "A Canon for the Blue Moon."

Allison Waters is the newest core member of NaCl, with whom she has appeared in "The Secret Storey" and "A Canon for the Blue Moon." She was involved in the "Fictive Reality" school given by Primus Theatre and performed in "Arsenal of the Ancestors." Roberto Andrioli is an exchange artist from Florence, Italy. He graduated from the Piccolo Theatre in Milan, under the tutelage of the famous Georgio Streller. He met NaCl at La MaMa Umbria last summer. [NYTW]

Related article: La MaMa sets 1998-99 season schedule

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