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Thursday, August 23, 2018

Multimedia Play on the Life & Philosophy of Simone Weil Premiers in Jersey City

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“Art should plant the seed of mystery for the soul to be awaken back to life.” – Simone Weil

Jersey City Theater Center (JCTC) presents Prologue – a new multimedia, international production about the life and philosophy of Simone Weil – for a 10-show run, beginning September 13 at Merseles Studios in Jersey City.

A French philosopher, political activist and mystic, Simone Weil (1909 - 1943)  was a uniquely pivotal 20th century figure. An influential scholar and writer, her life and work spanned the diverse worlds of Marxism, social activism and spirituality. She maintained an often volatile correspondence with Leon Trotsky, served in the  Durruti Column, a contingent of “anarchists” that fought in the Spanish Civil War, then after writing extensively about politics and the oppression of the working class, she produced seminal studies on Mysticism before dying from tuberculosis on her way to join the French Resistance to fight Nazi occupation.

Her life and writings – most of which was published posthumously –  remain widely popular among academic, intellectual and political circles throughout the world. Albert Camus described this groundbreaking activist and original thinker as “the only great spirit of our times.”

Written and directed by Maria Litvan, an award-winning playwright acclaimed both here and in her native Spain, Prologue features an international cast & crew, breaks down gender preconceptions and explores issues of otherness, class and societal relationships through a unique play-within-a-play structure. Actually, Prologue has a play-preparation-within-a-play structure: As an actor gets ready to play Simone Weil, he begins a dialogue with her, reflecting on the mystical and artistic processes, and how connecting with the "the other" brings depth and meaning to our own life experiences.

The interaction between the character of Weil and the actor about to portray her is augmented by dance, video projections, animation and original music. The result is an immersive, nonlinear composition of moments – multimedia snapshots into the life and thought of Simone Weil .

By taking place in a theatre setting, Prologue subtly underscores the social and political themes uniting Weil’s best known writing. “The craft of acting is learning is how to pay attention,” said Litvan. “The life and work of Simone is about the art of being attentive. She always had the same approach with whatever she was writing, whether it was political or religious, which was a search for truth and the importance of knowing the other.”

Why did she decide to cast a male actor as the actor preparing to play a woman? “I wanted to move beyond gender and talk about something more essential,” she said. “When you read Simone, you realize that gender is not important.”

Prologue was first workshopped in 2013 at the Center for Performance Research in Brooklyn, although at that time only the first half of the play had been written. In addition to becoming a mother, Litvan spent the ensuing years writing and revising the play. The development of the production opening on September 13th  at Merseles Studios was completed under the JCTC Theatre Residency Program, enabling the full play to premier on the 75th anniversary of Weil’s death.

“JCTC is committed to creating partnerships with international productions and bringing artists from around the world to Jersey City audiences,” said Olga Levina, Artistic Director. “We are proud that the JCTC Theatre Residency Program was part of the development of Prologue. Simone Weil is an incredibly important world figure whose life and work raises issues about society and the human condition that are still relevant to the times we are living through now.”

"JCTC’s commitment to social and political thought through the arts, and its appreciation and support for experimental theater, makes them the perfect venue for a piece about Simone Weil,” said Litvan. “Also, a few of us in the team are now Jersey City locals, and it is very exciting to be able to share our work with our neighbors!"

Prologue

Thursday 9/13
Friday 9/14
Saturday 9/15
Sunday 9/16*
Thursday 9/20
Sunday 9/23*
Thursday 9/27
Friday 9/28
Saturday 9/29
Sunday 9/30 * 

Doors: 7:30/ Show: 8:00

*Sunday Shows Only: Doors: 3:30/ Show: 4:00

Tickets: $20
($15/ Student and Senior Discount – must show valid ID)

To purchase tickets visit: www.JCTCenter.org

Jersey City Theater Center
Merseles Studios
339 Newark Avenue
Jersey City, NJ 07302
(201) 795-5386


Cast & Crew

Catherine Correa - Simone Weil
Born in Colombia, Catherine began training in classical ballet at the age of four in her natal country, and later on in San Petersburg Ballet Academy. By the age of 17, she was already performing professionally in Bogota. In 1998 she moved to New York City where she broadened her style to include modern dance and tango, performing with renowned dancers and choreographers. She writes, produces and performs in theater, dance and multimedia performances. ( www.catherinecorrea.com)

Ignacio Garcia-Bustelo – Actor

Born in Spain, Ignacio Garcia-Bustelo is a New York-based actor and stage director. As an actor, he has worked for the National Theater and some of the most prestigious venues in Spain; and here in the U.S., his long list of New York and Regional theater credits includes leading roles in classical and contemporary productions presented at La Mama ETC, The Theatre Project, Olney Theater Center, Theater for the New City, Gala Theater, and the Spanish Repertory Theater.. Favorite theater credits include Hamlet, Titus Andronicus, A Midsummer Night’s Dream,Agamemnon, Hecuba, Don Juan Tenorio, The Knight from Olmedo, In Spite of Love, Volokolamsk Highway, The Blue, The Triumph of Crowds, New Island, An Invisible Piece of this World, The Rimers of Eldritch, The Giver, The Grapes of Wrath,The Last Draw amd Private View. Film appearances include: Pawn Sacrifice, directed by Edward Zwick, The Valdemar Legacy, and The Forbidden Shadow. Ignacio also appeared on the Spanish prime-time TV series MIR and Hospital Central.  He is a Fulbright Scholar, and holds a BFA from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in Madrid, and a MFA from The New School for Drama in NYC.

Maria Litvan – Writer/Director
Maria's work questions perception and lives at the border between reality and allegory. It ponders existential themes, but within the rhythm and non-structure of playtime. Her plays often combine complex topics with minimal language and absurd situations that heighten a reality other than what first meets the eye.  Her full-length theatre works include: Borderline (Loewe theatre); Obsessions (Loewe theatre, and Galapos Art Space); Psyche (Context Studios). She is the recipient of the John Golden Award for Excellence in Playwriting, the John Gassner Award, and in Catalonia, the Josep Robrenyo Award, among others. Maria holds an MA from Gallatin School of Individualized Study, NYU, with a concentration in performing arts, perception, and mysticism, and she is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Theatre and Performance at the Graduate Center, CUNY.

Laia Cabrera - Filmmaker and Video Artist
Laia Cabrera is a filmmaker and video artist based in New York and critically recognized multimedia creator, working in the fields of projection mapping design, visual poetry, documentary and live performance, with many projects straddling or blending elements of both fields. Ms. Cabrera innovative interdisciplinary work merges cinematic arts, dance, music, theater and digital arts. Recipient of many awards including the 2016 Silver Telly Award for best Direction, AVA and Telly awards for best Animation, Documentary and Art Direction; NYIT awards 2015 winner for Best Art Production and 3-time nominee for Outstanding Innovative Video Design and winner of the Kodak & Color Lab award for Best Cinematic film for Under Influence. She is also the recipient of the several grants, KrTU Creators, Cultura i de les Arts (CONCA), NYC Council on the Arts, and DC Commission for the Arts and Humanities among others. Her work includes traditional and experimental filmmaking, virtual theater and interactive video mapped site-specific installations presented worldwide and commissioned by major institutions. Her last works were presented in Times Square, Armory Arts Week-SPRING/BREAK Art Show New York, Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), St John the Divine Cathedral, Nuit Blanche DC, La Mama, Dixon Place, Time Center at the New York Times, Art all Night DC, Georgetown Glow, PBS’s American Masters and Tempietto di Bramante, Rome, Italy.  She is currently the artistic director of LAIA CABRERA & CO co-founded with French animator Isabelle Duverger, a team of visual artists producing a wide range of multimedia projects.

Isabelle Duverger - Animator and Video Mapping Artist

Isabelle Duverger is an award winning New York based French animator, illustrator and video mapping artist working in the US and Europe. She has been collaborating with Laia Cabrera on the creation of interactive site-specific video installations and multimedia shows. She is a three-time NYIT nominee for Outstanding Innovative Video and Projection Design, and Telly, AVA and Communicator Awards recipient for her work in illustration and animation. She has performed in renowned venues such as Times Square Plaza, Spring/Break Art Show (Armory Arts Week), St John the Divine Cathedral, New York, Nuit Blanche Washington DC and Tempietto Di Bramante, Rome, Italy.  www.isabelleduverger.com

Nana Simopoulos – music and sound design
Nana is considered one of the foremost composers of world fusion music.  She artfully blends sounds and textures from around the world.  The late Indian sarangi master Ustad Sultan Khan accompanied her on two releases, After The Moon, 1997 and Daughters Of The Sun, 2001, which was #1 on the NAV New Age and World radio charts. She has written numerous commissions for dance companies such as Dance Theatre of Harlem with former Pilobolus choreographer Peter Pucci, the Joffrey Ballet, The American Dance Festival, Ballet Hispanico, North Carolina Dance Theater and LiquidBody. www.nana.net

Funding for Prologue was made possible by generous support from the Hudson County Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs/Tourism Development, Thomas A. DeGise, Hudson County Executive and the Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

Prologue was also made possible through the generosity of Ben LoPiccolo Development Group, JCTC’s Board of Directors, private donors and local Jersey City businesses.

Jersey City Theater Center, Inc. (JCTC) presents programming at Merseles Studios and White Eagle Hall. JCTC is a nonprofit, 501c3 arts organization committed to inspiring conversations about the important topics of our times through innovative and progressive performing and visual arts that celebrates diversity, bringing communities closer together and enhancing the quality of life.

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