THE BED EXPERIMENT ONE
The work earned Margolis, Brown and the Adaptors a “Bessie” — a New York Dance and Performance Award — this September. The citation hailed it as “a stunning redefinition of the possibilities of movement theater and ensemble performance.”
It is precisely that and more. The Adaptors had already shown us, in their multimedia “Autobahn” a couple of seasons back, an exceptional kind of originality in mixing up and fusing the realms of mime, theater, dance and performance art. “The Bed” continues exploring these media in novel ways. On the one hand, it does so within a more restricted palette of materials, relying on fewer and less complicated props and effects than “Autobahn.” On the other hand, where “Autobahn” seemed specifically to diagnose contemporary craziness, “The Bed” appears more universal in scope, making observations on the human condition independent of era or locale.
“The Bed” begins with the sounds of an infant’s cry, a howling wind, scraps of talk about astrophysics and a babble of voices. The rising light reveals an enormous frame bed, and upon it, a sheet makes a churning landscape of mountain peaks, canyons and ravines. In the very first sequence of images and sounds, “The Bed” and its eponymous prop summon an array of associations, memories and ideas as wide as the cosmos, stretching from the Big Bang to procreation on a human scale.
Eight white-faced performers — Everypersons, both male and female — emerge from under the sheet to carry us through a panorama of life abed. Movement is the primary means of expression, but it’s not so much dance movement, sculpted into formal patterns, as movement as a kind of silent, stylized drama, abstracting relationships, gestures and actions into archetypal shapes. The Adaptors force us to rethink our definitions of dance, of drama, of mime — it’s one of the most interesting aspects of their work.
As the piece proceeds, the focus shifts from mating rituals to the antics of lovemaking, from the battle of the sexes to baby worship, and from dreams of conquest to nightmares of disembowelment. The bed turns from the cradle of civilization into a hospital cot, from a sultry desert to a tundra of monsters. As the scenes evolve — the performance is a 60-minute continuum — the tone mysteriously oscillates between extremes of farcicality or pathos. How the performers effect these wondrous transformations is one of the Adaptors’ most singular professional secrets.
The skill, refinement and vibrancy of the cast can scarcely be praised enough, nor can the ingenuity and perfectionism of Margolis, as director, and she and Brown as the creators of “The Bed.” Also to be commended are lighting designer Peter Anderson and Kyle Chepulis, who designed the cartoonish, all-purpose bed.
The Adaptors have done it again — given a shot in the arm, that is, to those who believe the theater ought to be a place where the eye and the mind are confronted with ever-expanding horizons of vision.
Founded in New York City in 1984 by Artistic Directors Kari Margolis and Tony Brown, the Company encompasses a professional performing ensemble and a full-time training and research center. The Margolis Brown ADAPTORS Company relocated to Minneapolis in 1993 and from 2004 to 2010 shared time between Minneapolis where it premiered its original productions, and Highland New York, the site of the Company’s Margolis Method Training Center. In 2011 the Company will move all its operations to the Highland, New York site.
Under the creative guidance of Tony Brown and Kari Margolis the company has achieved both critical and popular acclaim for its signature physically-charged approach to theater. Known for spectacular ensemble imagery, a rapier wit and the marriage of cutting edge multimedia technology with a muscular and emotionally rich acting style, the company creates original thematic productions that Alan M. Kriegsman of the Washington Post hailed as… “so exciting, so original, so unexpected it renews your faith in the artistic future”.
Our artistic goal is to reflect on life rather than imitate it. The Company seeks in all its productions, to reveal the extraordinary within the ordinary and believes that within the suspended animated world of theatre there lies a place where universal ideas can touch an audience on a personal level. For the Company, it is this point of connection that makes for great theatre.
In working to create a new modern theatre, we are inspired to first look back to ancient theatre forms where theatre was a transformative communal experience. We find in theatre’s ritualistic roots an intriguing and powerful performer who embodied the skill sets of actor, dancer, singer and puppeteer. We also find a performance event that was so essential, one could barely separate the experience of the viewer from that of the performer. It is this heartfelt level of connection with an audience we seek today.
Our commitment to this goal is so deep that the Company has, since 1984, been exploring new ways to tell stories that challenge the traditional linear narrative in order to move an audience on a visceral level and stimulate their imaginations. The creation of such a theatre experience has called on us to create a new kind of actor and redefine the actor’s place within the creative process.
The pursuit of this actor has led to the Margolis Method, an in-depth theatre training approach built on three decades of studio research and professional application. What initially started as a means to train the Company’s ensemble, has now become a recognized body of work that is beginning to take hold in universities, theaters and with individuals worldwide.
While economics and politics have made ensemble theatre something of an anomaly in the United States today, the Company has always remained vigorously committed to maintaining a “home” for a group of artists to train, grow, create and ultimately, contribute back to society. We believe that ensemble theatre — a group of people united in mind, muscle and breath — demonstrates the power of coming together and can help us remember just how generous the human spirit can be.
Tony Brown and Kari Margolis have been committed to the creation of original theatre productions and the exploration of the actor’s craft for over three decades. They first joined forces in 1975, in Paris, while training intensively with Etienne Decroux. After seven years of performing internationally, including four years as ensemble members of OMNIBUS in Montreal, Canada, they returned to the United States in 1982 and formed the ADAPTORS Company in New York City. After four years as Artists-in-Residence at the prestigious BACA Downtown Arts Center they opened their own multimedia performance and rehearsal space. In September 1993, Margolis and Brown relocated the Company and Training Center to Minneapolis where they were active contributors to the Twin Cities arts’ scene. In 2004 the team and Company members began building an international training center in the beautiful New York Delaware River Valley, just 90 miles from New York City.
Brown and Margolis have created sixteen large-scale, critically acclaimed works with the Company that have toured nationally and internationally to Barcelona, Berlin, London, Singapore and throughout Mexico and Canada. Along with these works they have also created several large-scale, site-specific events for such places as the Brooklyn Museum, the beach at Coney Island, NY, the Minnesota Science Museum and the Roebling Bridge in Minisink Ford NY. Kari has Directed all the productions and performed with the Company until 1998. She has also designed or collaborated on costume, set and prop design. Tony has performed in most of the Company’s productions and featured in the latest touring IN SEARCH OF TONTO BLUE, and is the Company’s multimedia designer and composer.
More About Kari Margolis
Over the last 28 years, Ms. Margolis has developed a highly dynamic physical approach to actor training (Margolis Methodtm) that synthesizes the skill-sets of Actor, Director and Playwright. The Margolis Method Center in Highland NY, reaches an international student body and Ms. Margolis leads Master Classes and extended residencies throughout the United States and abroad. She has been the Master Teacher for the Kennedy Center’s American College Theatre Festival for ten years, and is an ongoing Guest Artist for the Association of Professional Actors and Directors in Barcelona, Spain.
As Faculty at the University of Minnesota from 1997 to 2004, she played an integral role in reshaping the B.A. Acting Program where Margolis Method is still core to the Program’s syllabus. She served for four years on the National Endowment for the Arts Professional Theatre Panel and was a Site-Reporter for fifteen years. Kari is a published author and lecturer and most recently was the Keynote Speaker for the Rocky Mountain Theatre Association’s Festival hosted by Fort Lewis College. She served two terms as President of the National Movement Theatre Association and on the panels of the Jerome Foundation and Metropolitan Regional Arts Council in the Twin Cities along with several other national Arts panels. The Margolis Method Overview DVD funded by National Endowment for the Arts was produced in 2006.
More About Tony Brown
Mr. Brown played a key role in designing the new multimedia center for the University of Minnesota’s Department of Theatre and Dance, where he also taught media and acting classes. He created and produced a multi-screen, multimedia installation entitled “2005” presented at Intermedia Arts, Mpls. and has served on the Boards of the Minnesota Dance Alliance and the National Movement Theatre Association along with serving as a panelist on several local arts panels in Minneapolis. He was a Site-Reporter for the National Endowment for the Arts for ten years. Mr. Brown has received recognition for his featured performance in AMERICAN SAFARI with a City Pages “Best Stage Performance of 2001”, and two Arizoni Awards. From 1989 to 1993 he oversaw a multimedia re-grant program for the New York State Council for the Arts through the company’s video editing facility in Downtown Brooklyn.
Witness as the covers are pulled back to reveal the rites and rituals of the untamable Homo Sapiens in its favorite nesting place — a giant bed! Like a bizarre nature documentary THE BED EXPERIMENT tracks four males and four females, who while confronting their deepest fears and desires, balance the witty and weird against the painfully true to life.
“a taut, wry beautifully made work” Deborah Jowitt, Village Voice
THE BED EXPERIMENT ONE CREDITS
Kari Margolis & Tony Brown
Directed by: Kari Margolis
Set Design: Kyle Chepulis
Lighting Design: Kyle Chepulis, Peter Anderson
Sound Design: Tony Brown
Costumes: Kari Margolis
Original Ensemble 1987
THE BED EXPERIMENT was created through workshop with performing artists Ed Alletto, Beth Brooks, Tony Brown, Stephan Geras, Jeannie Kranich, Joan Merwyn, Bob Modaff, Margie Rynn and Erica Babad, Louise Heit, Debra Roth, Rock Townsend, Ben Wildrick.
Bonnie Zimering Bottoms, Brently Michael Davis, Jill Heaberlin, C. Todd Griffin, Matt Guidry, Kym Longhi, Risa Persian, Patsy Raynolds, Holly Schramm, Caron Starobin, Veronica Weadock, Randal Berger, Michael Sward.
THE BED EXPERIMENT was made possible in part with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, the McKnight Foundation, Jerome Foundation, General Mills Foundation, Dayton Hudson Foundation, and private donors.
I believe the “magic ingredient” great works of theater possess lies in the heart and soul of the actor—the actor who can synthesize the instinctual with the intellectual and the visceral with the technical. By doing so the personal can become universal and acting can become art. I believe in developing “actors” more than teaching how to “act.” No one needs to teach a sponge how to absorb water, it is built for the job! In the same manner, the actor’s body/breath/imagination can be trained to become a sensitive instrument to bring the emotional and psychological into the physical realm to share with an audience. Margolis Method takes the conceptual out of acting training by creating tangible, practicable exercises to hone and own the skill sets of the theatre artist’s craft.
Margolis Method trains actors to recognize what is inherently theatrical in everyday experiences by revealing poetry and metaphor. By learning to delicately balance physical, intellectual, and emotional expression an actor can work in what we call the “creative state.” In this state of hyper-awareness actors can access deeper levels of creativity. The actor working within this state of integration has the power to engage audiences, stimulating their creative state as well.
This two-day workshop will allow students to experience the Margolis Method’s dynamic process of tapping into an actor’s creative state. Using a laboratory format training artists experience creating theater on their feet, connecting the voice to muscular conditions and dramaturgically shaping visceral impulse. The skill-sets of actor, director and playwright are merged to develop a powerful three dimensional theatre artist.
The Margolis Method’s clear and in-depth vocabulary offers actors, directors and playwrights a common language with which to more precisely communicate and increases all theatre artist’s ability to articulate both what they see in others and want to express themselves. Kari Margolis has been committed to the the exploration of the actor’s craft and the creation of original theatre productions since 1982. She is Co-Founder with Tony Brown and Artistic Director of the Margolis Brown ADAPTORS Company originally established in New York City in 1984. She has conceived, directed, designed costumes, props and sets for sixteen critically acclaimed, evening-length productions that have toured nationally and internationally to Barcelona, Berlin, London, Singapore, and throughout Mexico and Canada. She has also performed in several of these productions. Her original work also includes large-scale, site-specific events for such places as the Brooklyn Museum and the beach at Coney Island, NY.
Over the last 29 years, Ms. Margolis has, through daily studio research, developed a dynamic physical approach to actor training and theatre creation (Margolis Method). Her original research has been inspired in part by the work of Jerzy Grotowski, Bertolt Brecht and Etienne Decroux. She served on the Theatre Faculty of the University of Minnesota from 1997 to 2004. In this position she played an integral role in reshaping the B.A. Acting Program, creating an environment focused on the actor/creator. She also introduced and developed the syllabus for new approaches to acting and directing classes, was faculty liaison to the student-run Xperimental theatre and created several original actor-centered ensemble performances with the students. Kari has been Master Teacher at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival for ten years, working with the National Irene Ryan Candidates.
Kari has run a private actor training program since 1984, first in her New York City studio and then in Minneapolis from 1993 to 2004. She is presently building the Margolis Method Center in Highland NY. where she has been reaching an international student body since 2005. The Margolis Method Center runs a two-year program, summer workshops, University Professor Certification and Professional Artist Certification programs.
Kari conducts master classes, extended residencies and lecture demonstrations throughout the United States and internationally. She is a public speaker, published author and has, along with her own work, created original theatre productions for several University Theatre Programs and worked as a freelance director.