The Necklace (Work in Progress) by John Tipton

Marriage without magic in a mythic situation. Eriphyle and Amphiaraus as told by Apollodorus.
John Tipton was born in 1964 in Alton, Illinois. After an itinerant childhood—mostly in Indiana—and a stint in the army, he attended the University of Chicago where he earned a degree in philosophy. His first collection, surfaces, was published by Flood Editions in 2004. Two translations of Greek tragedies have followed: Sophocles’ Ajax(2008) and Aeschylus’ Seven against Thebes (2015), both published by Flood. His most recent book is Paramnesia (2016). He is the publisher of Verge Books, a small literary press he runs with Peter O’Leary. Since 1990 he has called Chicago home and he lives there in Wicker Park with his wife, Stephanie, and their son, Levi.

Box of Rain by Kevin Killian (San Francisco Poets Theater)

Box of Rain began as a commission from the San Francisco Arts Commission in 2012, the local hosts of FAX, a traveling exhibition co-organized by The Drawing Center, New York and ICI (Independent Curators International). The only stipulation they made was that a fax machine must be featured prominently on stage during the play, so we decided to make it into a haunted fax machine, one that stood on the precipice between life and death, so that the only communication would be between San Francisco and Hell. After that the play wrote itself. The play is set in a SF art gallery once of great wealth and fame by dwindling since the death of its long-time star artist, Pablo Picasso. On the day that gallerist Rachel Rumaker finds out that her last remaining artist, the painter of light Thomas Kinkade has also died, her gallery boys discover that Picasso’s portrait of Dora Maar has been stolen right off its easel by—a child? This begins the mysterious war between age and youth, law and anarchy, dying forms of technology like the fax itself and upstarts like the tyrannical, fey “Siri” on our i-Phones. What is the “box of rain”? The famous song from American-Beauty era Grateful Dead? The shadowy fax machine itself, posed directly over the thinnest membrane between two worlds? Or is it the human heart, which has already prompted the deaths of all those valiant Rachel Rumaker holds dear—but wait, even in late middle age she is ready for another romance, this one with Inspector Gadget from the Matthew Broderick flop.

San Francisco-based novelist and poet Kevin Killian has written nearly fifty scripts, most of them full-length plays, since his early appearance in the Language-oriented San Francisco Poets Theater of the mid 1980s. A trademark of his plays is that he often writes the script with another company member, or in some cases with well-known poets and artists, producing in this way plays in collaboration with Norma Cole, Barbara Guest, Brian Kim Stefans, Leslie Scalapino, and many others. He is as happy to dream up an idea himself as he is to eke out the shadowy dreams of others. In addition, San Francisco Poets Theater has revived many works of poets theater from the past, as well as producing plays by a wide variety of English-speaking poets. San Francisco Poets Theater has been commissioned to produce shows for a variety of Bay Area schools and museums, including the Berkeley Art Museum, the De Young Museum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, California College of the Arts, the San Francisco Art Institute, and many more. We are pleased and excited to bring our theater to the great city of Chicago.

Gardener of Stars, an Opera by Carla Harryman and Jon Raskin w/ Tania Chen and Cris Cheek

Gardener of Stars, an Opera is adapted from Carla Harryman’s poets novel Gardener of Stars, the libretto serves as a verbal score for structured improvisation with speaking voices, musical instrumentation, and singing. The relationship of unique speaking voices to music is explored as a polyvocal event that yet sustains a high degree of separation between the performing voices. Speaking voices and musical instrumentation create space for verbal language as a central character of the work, while the music likewise sustains an identity that resists blending sound with voice. The setting of the opera is one of a “post-plague” world, the references for which are situated in actual and fantastic sources including the AIDS plague, the demise of the automobile, and contradictory tropes of feminist utopia. Gardener of Stars, an Opera is a volatile exploration of the paradises and wastelands of utopian desire, an inquiry into questions of boundaries and borders in the physical world and states of mind, and an evocation of “a land where erotic impulses, social hierarchies, alternative cultivation and a death god’s radar mix with a moral ambivalence that recalls Lewis Carroll and a violence and artistry that recalls Lautréamont and Samuel R. Delany. The work features cris cheek (speaking voice), Tania Chen (prepared piano, singing and speaking voice), Carla Harryman (speaking voice), Jon Raskin (micro electronics, concertina, saxophone, speaking voice). Chicago artist Julia Klein is the artistic director.

Carla Harryman is known for her genre-disrupting experimental performances and writings. Her many books include Adorno’s Noise (Essay Press, 2008), W—/M— (Split/Level 2013), Baby (Adventures in Poetry, 2005), There Never Was a Rose Without a Thorn (City Lights, 1995); experimental novels such as Gardener of Stars (Atelos 2002) and The Words, after Carl Sandburg’s Rootabaga Stories and Jean-Paul Sartre (O Books, 1994); and the book-length poem Open Box (Belladonna, 2007). Critical writings include essays on innovative performance, gender, and postmodern literature. She co-edited Lust for Life: On the Writings of Kathy Acker (Verso, 2006) and is editor of a special issue on “non/narrative,” from The Journal of Narrative Theory (2011). Collaborations include The Grand Piano (Mode D, 2006-2010), an experiment in autobiography situated between 1975 and 1980 and authored by 10 writers identified with San Francisco language poetry; The Wide Road with Lyn Hejinian (Belladonna, 2011); and Open Box, a sound/music/text cd with Jon Raskin and the Jon Raskin Quartet (Tzadik 2012). Gardener of Stars, an Opera, for speaking voices, microelectronics, and prepared piano is her most recent collaboration with Raskin. In 2012 she presented Occupying Theodore W. Adorno’s Music and New Music, a closing keynote performance for speaking voice (Harryman) and prepared piano (Magda Mayas) at dOCUMENTA 13. An innovator of poets theater, her avant-garde theater and polyvocal performance works have been presented in San Francisco, Detroit, Chicago, New York, Montreal, Auckland, the United Kingdom, Austria, and Germany. Sue in Berlin, a collection of performance writing and poets theater plays is forthcoming in French and English volumes from the To series of the University of Rouen Press in 2017. During the academic year, she serves as Professor of English Language and Literature at Eastern Michigan University, where she currently coordinates EMU’s interdisciplinary creative writing program. She also serves on the MFA faculty of the Milton Avery School of the Arts at Bard College. She has received grants and awards from The Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Opera America: Next Stage, The Fund forPoetry, The Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation, and an NEA/New Langton Arts Consortium Playwright Commission.

Jon Raskin is a composer and multi-instrumental improviser. He has over thirty recordings with Rova Saxophone Quartet of which he is a founding member.

His current CD’s include Let’s go Juke Box Suite (Not Two) with the Rova Saxophone Quartet , JR Quartet (Rastascan) with Liz Allbee, George Cremaschi and Gino Robair, Music + One (Rastascan) an improvisation compendium for improvisers to play along with, Kaolithic Music recorded in a 587 Gallon Vase (Evander Music), and “Open Box,” a collaboration with poet Carla Harryman with music by Jon Raskin Quartet and performances by Roham Shikhaini, Aurora Josephson, and Carla Harryman.

Other recording projects include: Anthony Braxton, Eight (+3) Tristano Compositions For Warne Marsh and The Bass & the Bird Pond with Tim Berne, Wavelength Infinity- A Sun Ra Tribute, Between Spaces with Phillip Gelb, Dana Reason & Pauline Oliveros, Terry Riley’s In C 25th Anniversary, and solo work on the Art Ship Series.

He has received numerous grants and commissions including: NEA composer grant for Poison Hotel, a theater production by Soon 3 (1988); Reader’s Digest/Meet the Composer (1992 & 2000); Berkeley Symphony commission (1995) and Headland Center for the Arts Residency 2009.

Julia Klein’s work has been exhibited in solo and two-person exhibitions in Brooklyn, Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, New York City, Philadelphia, and Hammond, Indiana. She has also participated in a number of artist residencies. She received a BFA from the University of Michigan and an MFA in Sculpture from the Bard College Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts. Since 2009, Klein has run Soberscove Press, which produces art-related materials that fill a gap in the literature or are difficult to access, as well as artists’ books.


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