Joe Goode Performance Group brings Wonderboy to Edison Theatre Feb. 20 and 21

Collaboration with master puppeteer Basil Twist tells story of peculiar superhero

Superpowers aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Take Wonderboy, the new collaboration by San Francisco choreographer Joe Goode and master puppeteer Basil Twist. Blessed with uncanny empathy and superhuman sensitivity, the title character is virtually paralyzed by everyday sights and sounds — the clash of bells, the glare of sunlight, a young man passing on the street.

Yet Wonderboy is not without resources, nor without courage. In February the Joe Goode Performance Group will bring its three-foot-tall wooden hero to St. Louis as part of the Edison Theatre OVATIONS Series.


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The Joe Goode Performance Group and master puppeteer Basil Twist present *Wonderboy* Feb. 20 and 21.

Performances begin at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 20 and 21. Tickets are $32; $28 for seniors and Washington University faculty and staff; and $20 for students and children. Tickets are available at the Edison Theatre Box Office and through all MetroTix outlets. Edison Theatre is located in the Mallinckrodt Student Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd.

For more information, call (314) 935-6543 or email

Goode is among the most innovative and original choreographers working in American dance theater. His Joe Goode Performance Group, launched in 1986, combines traditional dance movement with spoken word, song, visual imagery and sculptural props. Major works range from the Bessie Award-winning Deeply There (stories of a neighborhood) (1998), which explores the havoc of the AIDS epidemic, to Mythic, Montana (2002), an American take on Greek mythology, and Stay Together (2006), about the difficulties of maintaining relationships in a world that moves too fast.

Goode met Twist — a San Francisco native now based in New York — in 2006, on the set of Paula Vogel’s acclaimed drama The Long Christmas Ride Home. Twist, who was directing the play for San Francisco’s Magic Theatre, enlisted Goode to choreograph a short dance sequence. The pair hit it off and began planning a longer collaboration.

The result is Wonderboy, a tender coming-of-age story that explores the ways in which outsiders forge communities and lives of their own. As the piece begins, Wonderboy sits perched above the stage in a window frame, from which he sees, hears and feels entirely too much. Gradually he finds the strength to venture outside and connect with others, encountering rage and rejection — a cheerleader’s taunts, a gender-bending solo about sexual intimidation — yet also discovers acceptance and even love.


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The Joe Goode Performance Group, in collaboration with master puppeteer Basil Twist, presents *Wonderboy* Feb. 20 and 21.

“I want to pierce the veil of toughness that we all have in our lives and to uncover the vulnerable center, the confused, flailing human part of us that we conceal and avoid,” Goode says of his work. “I want to make ‘human scale’ dances. By human in scale, I mean placing the emphasis on the unglamorized body, the body in more intimate moments, when it is fallible or agitated or inept.”

The staging is reminiscent of Japanese bunraku puppetry, in which both puppet and puppeteers are visible to the audience. Six dancers — Mark Stuver, Melecio Estrella, Jessica Swanson, Andrew Ward, Patricia West and Alexander Zendzian — take turns manipulating Wonderboy, whose monologues frequently quote literary “wonderboys” such as Sam Shepard, Thom Gunn, Christopher Isherwood and Jiddu Krishnamurti. The original music is by singer/violinist Carla Kihlstedt and pianist/drummer Matthias Bossi.

Twist is perhaps best known for his long-running, Obie Award-winning Symphonie Fantastique (1998), a tour-de-force of underwater puppetry set to the music of Hector Berlioz. Other works include ingenious re-creations of two classic puppet operas: Master Peter’s Puppet Show (2002) by Manuel De Falla, and La Bella Dormente Nel Bosco (Sleeping Beauty in the Woods) (2005) by Ottorino Respighi. Recent pieces include Hansel and Gretel, a 2006 commission from The Houston Grand Opera and The Atlanta Opera; and Arias with a Twist, a new collaboration with drag queen Joey Arias, which debuted in June 2008.


Founded in 1973, the Edison Theatre OVATIONS! Series serves both Washington University and the St. Louis community by presenting the highest caliber national and international artists in music, dance and theater who perform new works as well as innovative interpretations of classical material not otherwise seen in St. Louis.

Edison Theatre programs are made possible with support from the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency; the Regional Arts Commission, St. Louis; and private contributors. The OVATIONS! Season is supported by The Mid-America Arts Alliance with generous underwriting by the National Endowment for the Arts and foundations, corporations and individuals throughout Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas.

Calendar Summary

WHO: Joe Goode Performance Group

WHAT: Wonderboy

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 20 and 21

WHERE: Edison Theatre, Washington University, Mallinckrodt Student Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd.

TICKETS: $32; $28 for seniors and Washington University faculty and staff; $22 for students. Available through the Edison Theatre Box Office, (314) 935-6543, and all MetroTix outlets

SPONSOR: Edison Theatre OVATIONS Series