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Arts Mixtape

Philip W. Sandstrom

Stephanie Skura's Two Huts

Stephanie Skura's Two Huts
Debra Wanner,Tom Cayler, Todd Jefferson Moore.
Thursday-Sunday, March 15, 16, 17, 18, 8pm
Roulette, 509 Atlantic Ave Brooklyn, 2/3/4/5/A/C/G/D/M/N/R/B/Q trains & the LIRR
$20/15 members/students/seniors
www.roulette.org / 917.267.0368

Stephanie Skura's "Two Huts."

PHILIP SANDSTROM: So why Roulette for your new work “Two Huts” and how did you and Jim Staley (Producer at Roulette), who’s more known as a music producer, connect on this project?
STEPHANIE SKURA: He’s always been interested in dance, he’s been around in the dance world since the ‘80’s watching dance. This being Roulette’s opening season at it’s new space in Brooklyn, Jim, who is familiar with my work, invited me to do something on his first season because he’d like to make the space more of an interdisciplinary space. They’ve always been about music innovation, and now they want to add more dance and performance art too.

PS: Did you have a commitment from Roulette in terms of creating a new work?
SS: He (Staley) has partially commissioned this new work, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to return to New York with a new work. I have been working quietly and innovatively since I left New York (approximately15 years ago), I’ve been working in poetry, theater, setting work on other (dance & theater) companies. I’ve been working in Italy, New Zealand, and around the world but I haven’t done any major work here (New York).

PS; What have you been up to in terms of how do you work now? What are your tools?
SS: I’ve been incorporating a really radical approach to language in combination with movement and theater. I was an associate director of a theater company, and became immersed in the world of theater. I have an intimacy now with theater and poetry like I have with dance which I now incorporate into my work.

PS: How does this affect this current work?
SS: With dance I’ve never done the traditional thing, I always had a free-associative approach to the creative process to the movement itself and the structure. Now I’m doing that also with language and theater. I think it has led to work that is very unique.

Stephanie Skura's "Two Huts."

PS: Where did this piece begin?
SS: I did the first version of this piece at a college in central Pennsyvannia (Juniata College). I worked on it first as a duet for myself and a professional actress and then I did it on students and expanded the cast. And that is the piece that I have now developed and honed on professionals (dancers & actors).

PS: You’re working with some familiar performers from the old days, how did that happen?
SS: I’m working with Debra Wanner, who is a founding member of my original company (in the ‘80’s). We had a very collaborative process as to how we made movement. I am also reuniting with Tom Cayler who I haven’t worked with for 27 years. He’s an actor who was in a number of pieces that you lit (in the 80’s). He’s an old colleague and theater partner of Todd Jefferson Moore, a Seattle actor; Tom recommended him for this work before we knew that Tom would be in the piece too.

PS: How did it come together with Tom and Debra in New York and you and Todd in Seattle?
SS: Debra came out to Seattle to work with me for two weeks and we set a lot of the material. I was to work with Todd too but I had a hard time finding another man; I wanted to work with performers who are in our age group. Since Tom and Todd have a long work relationship I decided to try to draft Tom. He agreed. We formed a tight rehearsal schedule working with all four of us everyday for two and one-half weeks.

PS: It sounds like a great reunion.
SS: Yes, a reunion of me and Debra and Tom, and of Tom and Todd. We’re all contemporaries and we’re all still dancing like crazy.

PS: What’s the importance of actors in this work.
SS: I needed seasoned actors, actors who can move and dance with language and words. They needed to be very comfortable with their voices because this (piece utilizes) is very radical language. It’s very imagistic and poetic and free-associative. I think it’s very accessible if people let go and just ride with it.

PS: Have you experienced anything different working with dancers and actors?
SS: Working with actors is much different than working with dancers.

PS: I would guess that actors ask more question like “what’s my motivation.”
SS: Yeah, they want psychological motivation for everything. They have different needs to feel comfortable. Dancers want to know how do I get from here to there without looking awkward, it may have nothing to do with what their doing it’s just a way for them to feel graceful.

PS: You’ve been making dances and movement based piece for over 30 years, so your very familiar with dancers; what’s been your preparation for this new dancer/actor combination work?
SS: In addition to working within the Seattle theater community, I’ve been working with this professional theater company as a core guest artist in their theater program at Juniata College. Immediately following this show I’m going there for a month to teach, so I understand where actors are coming from and what their train is, what their familiar with and what sort of support they might need.

PS: It will be great to see you in New York once again.
SS: I tour half the year nationally and internationally but nothing in New York so this will be a big homecoming for me.


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