Talk about climbing the walls.
In Leo, the gravity-defying new show from Berlin’s Circle of Eleven, the acrobatic star, Tobias Wegner, is trapped in a room seemingly absent the laws of physics. Floors become ceilings, chalk drawings spring to life, summersaults are executed with an astronaut’s slow-motion aplomb.
Leo is one of two striking works of physical theater set to launch the 2012-13 Edison Ovations Series at Washington University in St. Louis.
In all, the season will feature 14 events by nationally and internationally known artists, ranging from contemporary ballet to classic and cutting-edge drama to unique musical collaborations by some of today’s most acclaimed artists.
“Pulling the season together is always a balancing act,” says Charlie Robin, executive director of Edison Theatre. “But I think we’ve gotten this one just right.”
“There’s always a mix of music, theater and dance,” he adds. “But what really defines an Ovations line-up are the points at which they intersect.”
The season will open Sept. 7 and 8 with an original adaptation of Jane Eyre by Counter-Balance Theater. The newly established, California-based company — led by St. Louis native Annie Loui — specializes in an emerging theatrical form known as “devised theater.”
“Jane Eyre is like nothing we’ve presented before,” Robin says. Beginning with Charlotte Bronte’s celebrated novel, Loui and performers develop a kind of representational movement vocabulary through a process of collaborative improvisation. “The result is almost akin to dance.
“Leo (which opens Oct. 5 and 6) is another phenomenal example,” Robin says. “It’s wordless theater. Tobias creates a wide range of emotional contours — from hilarity to mournfulness — with an artistry that is at once musical, visual and physical.”
The Ovations season will continue Oct. 12 when acclaimed classical pianist Christopher O’Riley and cellist Matt Haimovitz visit the 560 Music Center. The collaborative, genre-hopping program, titled Shuffle.Play.Listen., stretches from Bach to Radiohead.
The Aquila Theatre Company, praised by The New York Times as “classically trained, modernly hip,” will return to Edison with a pair of theatrical masterworks: Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac (Nov. 2) and William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew (Nov. 3).
On Nov. 16 and 17, the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company will present Body Against Body, a survey of the postmodern duets that helped establish the company’s reputation.
Also returning, Dec. 7 and 8, will be the Reduced Shakespeare Company with The Ultimate Christmas Show (abridged). Rekindle the holidays in all their heartwarming joy and family dysfunction. Learn the shocking truths behind some of our most cherished traditions — including those of Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Saturnalia as well as Christmas.
The spring semester will begin with a special event, as Edison joins forces with Metro Theatre Company, St. Louis’ foremost professional troupe for young people, for Jackie & Me.
Adapted by Steven Dietz from Dan Gutman’s novel, the story centers on a young boy who, thanks to a rare baseball card, travels through time to witness Jackie Robinson’s historic 1947 season. Performances, recommended for ages 10 and up, run Jan. 11 to 27.
The Ovations season will resume Feb. 15 with Potted Potter, the hilarious (and unauthorized) condensing of all seven Harry Potter books into a single evening.
Alonzo King LINES Ballet, which infuses classical vocabulary with a modern sensibility, will return to Edison Feb. 22 and 23. The dancing continues March 1 and 2 when postmodern pioneers Jane Comfort and Company present Beauty, a provocative interrogation of American notions about the feminine ideal.
Concluding the Ovations season, on March 22, will be Ethel, the nation’s premiere post-classical string quartet, and Grammy-winning Native American flutist Robert Mirabal. The special collaborative performance, titled Music of the Sun, is inspired by Native American mythology and takes place in the 560 Music Center.
Ovations for Young People
Meanwhile, on Oct. 20, children’s music phenomenon Laurie Berkner will launch the popular ovations for young people series with a special solo performance in the 560 Music Center.
Ovations for young people will continue March 16 with Corbian Visual Arts and Dance in The Ugly Duckling & The Tortoise and the Hare. This innovative retelling of two classic fables combines puppetry, sculpture and dance with electroluminescent wire and other cutting-edge technology.
Concluding the series, on May 4, will be musical inventor, acrobat and all-around visual funnyman Michel Lauzière as the Master of Unusual Comedy.
Tickets and information
Tickets to Ovations events are $36, or $32 for seniors; $28 for WUSTL faculty and staff; and $20 for students and children. Subscriptions are available at the basic level (three, four or five events at $32 per ticket) and at the premiere level (six or more events at $28 per ticket).
Tickets to Jackie & Me are $16, or $12 for seniors, children and students and $10 for groups of 10 or more.
Tickets to Laurie Berkner are $18, or $12 for WUSTL faculty and staff. Other ovations for young people events are $12. Subscriptions to all three events are $30.
Edison Theatre is located in the Mallinckrodt Center on the Danforth Campus, 6445 Forsyth Blvd. The 560 Music Center is located in University City at 560 Trinity Ave. For more information or to order tickets, call the Edison Box Office at (314) 935-6543; email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit edison.wustl.edu.
Sept. 7 and 8
Oct. 5 and 6
Circle of Eleven
Christopher O’Riley and Matt Haimovitz
* 560 Music Center
Nov. 2 and 3
Aquila Theatre Company
Cyrano de Bergerac (Nov. 2)
The Taming of the Shrew (Nov. 3)
Nov. 16 and 17
Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company
Body Against Body
Dec. 7 and 8
Reduced Shakespeare Company
The Ultimate Christmas Show (abridged)
Edison Theatre and Metro Theatre Company
Jackie & Me
Feb. 22 and 23
Alonzo King LINES Ballet
March 1 and 2
Jane Comfort and Company
Ethel with Robert Mirabal
Music of the Sun
* 560 Music Center
ovations for young people
* 560 Music Center
Corbian Visual Arts and Dance
The Ugly Duckling & The Tortoise and the Hare
Master of Unusual Comedy
Founded in 1973, the Edison Ovations Series serves both Washington University and the St. Louis community by providing the highest caliber national and international artists in music, dance and theater, performing new works as well as innovative interpretations of classical material not otherwise seen in St. Louis.
Edison 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.