This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001

15Oct/20

LOVE STORY, THE SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS

Yoshiko Chuma’s Love Story, The School of Hard Knocks is a twenty-four-hour durational online experience

La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club
Saturday, October 17, 11:00 am - Sunday, October 18, 11:00 am, $5 - $400 (pay what you can)
lamama.org/love-story

Osaka-born multidisciplinary artist Yoshiko Chuma celebrates the fortieth anniversary of her collective, “The School of Hard Knocks” (SOHK), with the live, twenty-four-hour virtual work Love Story, streaming through La MaMa beginning at eleven o’clock in the morning on October 17. SOHK debuted at the 1980 Venice Biennale and became an official company four years later; the troupe has traveled the world with such shows as AGITPROPS: The Recycling Project, 7 x 7 x 7, and Pi=3.14 . . . Ramallah-Fukushima-Bogota Endless Peripheral Border, many of which were developed and premiered at La MaMa as well as PS122 and Dixon Place here in New York. A durational performance installation that incorporates dance, music, film, visual art, and narrative storytelling, Love Story deals with such timely topics as immigration, national security, and war; Chuma, who has been based in the United States since 1977, will also be looking at her personal and professional past, present, and future, focusing on the idea of borders, which have taken on a whole new level of importance under the Trump administration while also impacting how art is now created online as well as how Chuma has shunned the limitations of genre in her career.

Love Story — which consists of live and prerecorded segments, with part of the show taking place in La MaMa’s Ellen Stewart Theatre — was conceived, choreographed, and directed by Chuma, working with artist liaison Ai Csuka, creative producer and musician Ginger Dolden, actor Ryan Leach, Middle East specialist Ruyji Yamaguchi, and dramaturgs and designers Jake Margolin and Nick Vaughan. Among the cast of more than fifty international performers are Deniz Atli from Turkey, Agnè Auželytė from Amsterdam, Los Babuinos from Venezuela, Sahar Damoni from Palestine, Tanin Torabi from Iran, and Martita Abril, Mizuho Kappa, Heather Litteer, Devin Brahja Waldman, and zaybra from New York, with live, original music by Robert Black on double bass, Jason Kao Hwang on violin, Christopher McIntyre on trombone, and Dane Terry on piano.

“This week I was supposed to be in New York for performances celebrating Yoshiko Chuma and the School of Hard Knocks’ forty-year anniversary,” Auželytė recently wrote on Facebook. “While my physical body will stay put in Amsterdam for a long while to come, I will still be there, online and energetically, sharing the screen with a group of artists, some whom I had the opportunity to get to know for a long time already and some whom I only ever met on Zoom! (How weird is that? Is it still weird?) I am also touched to see some of them physically at the theater at La MaMa, which has been closed to the public for seven months now! We’ve had a lot of late-night conversations during this process and it continues to make me think about how to reimagine theater in the era of self-isolation and Zoom life. What does local-global mean anymore? Where are our bodies? What are our bodies?”

The multidisciplinary Love Story streams live from Saturday to Sunday morning (photo courtesy La MaMa)

The list of collaborators on Love Story is long and impressive. In addition to those listed above, there will be choreography by Yanira Castro, Ursula Eagly, Allyson Green, Jodi Melnick, Sarah Michelson, Anthony Phillips, Peter Pleyer, Kathryn Ray, Steve Recker, and Vicky Shick; poetry by Kyle Dacuyan, Bob Holman, and Anne Waldman; music by Mark Bennett, Tan Dun, Nona Hendryx, Christian Marclay, Lenny Pickett, and Marc Ribot; film and video by Chani Bockwinkel, Jacob Burckhardt, Rudy Burckhardt, Andrew Kim, Jonas Mekas, and Charlie Steiner; photography by Robert Flynt and Dona Ann McAdams; set designs by Tim Clifford, Alex Katz, Elizabeth Kresch, and Elizabeth Murray; and appearances by Barbara Bryan, Rachel Cooper, Mark Russell, Yoko Shioya, Bonnie Sue Stein, Laurie Uprichard, David White, Donald Fleming, Dan Froot, Kaja Gam, Brian Moran, Nicky Paraiso, Harry Whittaker Sheppard, Gayle Tufts, Sasha Waltz, David Zambrano, Nelson Zayao, Emily Bartsch, Peter Lanctot, Kouiki Mojadidi, Emily Marie Pope, Isaac Rosenthal, and Aldina Michelle Topcagic. Of course, it takes a lot of work to fill up 1,440 continuous minutes of performance, and Chuma has assembled quite a team.

You can get a sneak peek and behind-the-scenes look at the collaborative project on October 15 at 8:00 when La MaMa will present a livestream preview that includes archival footage, sketches, and rehearsal clips. In preparation for Love Story, La MaMa has also been hosting such live Saturday morning Zoom events as “Secret Journey: Stop Calling Them Dangerous” and “SML: Zooma — Dead End” in addition to evening shows that give a taste of what we’re all in for from Bessie Award winner Chuma and her unpredictable troupe, a virtual hybrid that should offer, at the very least, a twenty-four-hour respite from this school of hard knocks we are living through in 2020.

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