New Museum Theater
235 Bowery at Prince St.
Installation: September 23 - October 4
Performances: September 24-25, October 1-2, 7:00, and September 26-27, October 3-4, 3:00, $15
No one tells a story quite like Jack Ferver. In such deeply personal psychodramas as Rumble Ghost, Night Light Bright Light, and Two Alike, the Wisconsin-born, New York-based performer shares intimate, cathartic memories brought to life through a loving pop-culture lens. Melding dance, spoken word, electronic sound scores, and visual art, Ferver explores suicide, abused queer youth, rape, and other serious topics while incorporating references to Tennessee Williams, Poltergeist, Fred Herko, Cleopatra, Madonna, and the 1985 cult film Return to Oz. In Chambre, which runs September 24 to October 4 at the New Museum as part of FIAF’s Crossing the Line festival, Ferver turns to Jean Genet’s The Maids, the 1947 play inspired by a pair of real-life sisters, Christine and Léa Papin, who committed a horrific crime in France in 1933. For the project, which includes eight live performances, Ferver is working with several of his longtime collaborators; the music is composed by Roarke Menzies, the costumes are designed by Reid Bartelme, the art installation (which is on view during museum hours throughout the show’s run) is by Marc Swanson, and Ferver will be joined onstage by Michelle Mola and Jacob Slominski.
“While I’ve been mulling over the material for Chambre for years, we started our first residency at Baryshnikov [Arts Center] two years ago this month. It’s been exciting, to say the least, for me to see how much it has changed,” Ferver told twi-ny about the evolution of the show. “This iteration of Chambre at the New Museum is very different from our premiere at Bard [last year]. The context of the museum obviously has factored into it. Marc and I also originally envisioned it for the white cube. The space is more intimate than where we have performed it so far. Marc’s installation becomes a room in a room, and it is changing the performance, creating a more nuanced, vulnerable, and frightening experience for me. Michelle, Jacob, and I have already started rehearsing in the space. The script and choreography are changing as the psyche of the piece changes in the space of the New Museum.” Menzies added, “The evolution of the score for this work was interesting. I wrote maybe three separate scores before arriving at the final version. A lot of the first music cues I created really capitalized on the notion that this is a murder story. Originally, the main theme had this very suspenseful beat and dark, brooding piano melodies — very campy, and very much in the language of Friday the 13th or Halloween, which has one of the great horror scores in cinema. But I think I ended up scrapping all of those references in lieu of much more raw, uncomfortable, barely recognizable sounds that I created by manipulating and contorting recordings of my voice. As we got to the core of the work, it became clear that the real source of the horror in this piece isn’t the murder but the horror of being embodied, the horror of having to live in this cruel, terrible world. All we really have to escape that horror are the endless games we play.” Sounds like classic Jack Ferver to us, so we can’t wait to catch this highly anticipated New York City premiere.