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Compagnia de’ Colombari presents More Or Less I Am at Bryant Park Reading Room
June 1, 2019 @ 2:30 PM - 3:30 PM
Compagnia de’ Colombari
More Or Less I Am
in celebration of Walt Whitman’s 200th Birthday
Saturday, June 1, 2019 at 2:30pm
at the Reading Room, Bryant Park
Featuring Local Poet Angela O’Donnell
Compagnia de’ Colombari, an international collective of performing artists founded and directed by Karin Coonrod, presents More Or Less I Am: a music-theater piece drawn entirely from Walt Whitman’s revolutionary free verse long poem, “Song of Myself,”one of the original twelve pieces that comprise his 1855 collection Leaves of Grass. The final performance in this series, spanning multiple venues throughout the five boroughs, is FREE and will take place on Saturday, June 1, 2019 at 2:30pm at the Reading Room, Bryant Park, New York City, NY.
Compagnia de’ Colombari will celebrate the bicentennial of the birth of America’s most influential poet, Walt Whitman, with a revival of their acclaimed production More Or Less I Am, a music-theater piece drawn entirely from Walt Whitman’s revolutionary free verse long poem, “Song of Myself.” Conceived and directed by Karin Coonrod with original music by Colin Jacobsen, Kyle Sanna, Eric Jacobsen, and Alex Sopp, the piece involves fifteen performers of various ages, genders, and ethnicities (six instrumentalists and eight actor/singers, one child). More Or Less I Am includes passages spoken and sung in Spanish, among many other languages. Members of the audience will also be involved, as will local poet Angela O’Donnell who has been asked to speak back to Walt in her own words. Featuring performers from the best of the theater, classical music, and jazz worlds, the piece lasts one hour.
“accessible, and urgent” and a “joyous jamboree”
-Ian Crouch, The New Yorker
“More Or Less I Am speaks-sings aloud and embodies the voice of Walt Whitman: to experience our individual greatness and our great commonality,” said director Karin Coonrod. “Whitman takes the vision of America to a new level: a place we are still reaching for today. More Or Less I Am vitalizes Whitman’s call to us, then and now, a declaration of interdependence, an awakening of the American consciousness.”
More or Less I Am is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Production design support is provided by the Edith Lutyens and Norman Bel Geddes Design Enhancement Fund, a program of the Alliance of Resident Theaters/New York (A.R.T/New York). Additional support is provided by the Malka Fund.
Compagnia de’ Colombari wishes to thank the following project partners for their support: Charles Jarden and the Ft. Greene Park Conservancy; Cynthia Shor and the Walt Whitman Birthplace Association; Karen Karbiener and the Walt Whitman Initiative; Greg Trupiano and The Walt Whitman Project; Dan Fishman and Bryant Park Corporation; Nicholas Higgins and Meredith Walters, the Brooklyn Public Library; Rosie Clarke and Sarah Morrow, Housing Works; and Tommy Demenkoff, New York City Department of Correction.
Director: Karin Coonrod
Composers: Colin Jacobsen, Kyle Sanna, Eric Jacobsen, Alex Sopp
Sound Designer: Ken Goodwin
Lighting Designer: Solomon Weisbard
Actors: Dietrice A. Bolden, Sarah Heltzel, Sandro Isaack, Ashlyn Isler, Giovanni Pucci, Frank Rodriguez
Musicians: Grant Gordy (guitar), Patrick Davis (steel drum), Skye Steele (violin), Andrew Rehrig (flute), Jake Charkey (cello)
Karin Coonrod (Conceiver/Director)Colombari founder, Coonrod is a theater artist whose work has been seen and heard across the U.S. and around the world. Most recent work includes her original play, texts&beheadings/ElizabethR that premiered at Folger Theatre in Washington, DC and headlined BAM’s Next Wave Festival in 2015. She conceived Colombari’s stunning and historic production of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice as the centerpiece of the 500th year commemoration of the Jewish Ghetto in Venice, Italy in 2016. Coonrod’s other recent projects include: Shakespeare’s The Tempest at La Mama Theatre, New York (2014); Monteverdi’s Orfeo in Orvieto, Italy (2014); Gertrude Stein’s the world is round is round is round in upstate New York (2013); Chuck Mee’s A Perfect Wedding at the Hungarian Theatre of Cluj, Romania (2012); Andras Visky’s Giulia in Orvieto, Italy (2012); and Visky’s I Killed My Motherat La Mama Theater (2012). Coonrod was hailed by The New York Times as “prodigiously inventive” and “galvanic” and by The New York Observer for “clear-eyed imaginative intelligence.” She is Founding Director of Compagnia de’ Colombari (2004-present), an international company based in New York City. Colombari conceived and performed a 21st century casting of the Medieval Mystery Plays entitled Strangers and Other Angels live for audiences in the streets of Orvieto, Italy launching a new tradition of theater there. Colombari’s past credits include the epic Henry VI (The Public Theater, 1996); King John, Julius Caesar, Coriolanus (Theater for a New Audience, 2000-2005); Hamlet (California Shakespeare Festival, 2000); Everything That Rises Must Converge, created for the stage from Flannery O’Connor’s stories (New York Theatre Workshop, 2001); Othello (Hartford Stage, 2005); Enrico IV(American Repertory Theatre, 2001), and Love’s Labor’s Lost (The Public Theater, 2011). Coonrod translated into English Lorca’s The House of Bernarda Alba (with Pulitzer Prize winner Nilo Cruz), Victor Or Children Take Over (with Frederic Maurin), and Vedensky’s Christmas at the Ivanovs’ (with Julia Listengarten). She has been Artist-in-Residence at The Public Theater in New York, Stanford University, California Institute of the Arts, Gordon College, Harvard University, New York University, Columbia University, and Colgate University. Ms. Coonrod is currently on the faculty of the Yale School of Drama.http://karincoonrod.com/
Colin Jacobsen (Composer and Violinist) Violinist and composer Colin Jacobsen is “one of the most interesting figures on the classical music scene” (The Washington Post). An eclectic composer who draws on a range of influences, he was named one of the top 100 composer under 40 by NPR listeners. He is also active as an Avery Fisher Career Grant-winning soloist and a touring member of Yo-Yo Ma’s famed Silk Road Ensemble. For his work as a founding member of two game-changing, audience-expanding ensembles-the string quartet Brooklyn Rider and orchestra The Knights-Jacobsen was recently selected from among the nation’s top visual, performing, media, and literary artists to receive a prestigious and substantial United States Artists Fellowship. His work as a composer developed as a natural outgrowth of his chamber and orchestral collaborations. Jointly inspired by encounters with leading exponents of non-western traditions and by his own classical heritage, his most recent compositions for Brooklyn Rider include the work “Three Miniatures” – “vivacious, deftly drawn sketches” (The New York Times) -which was written for the reopening of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Islamic Art galleries. Jacobsen collaborated with Iran’s Siamak Aghaei to write a Persian folk-inflected composition, “Ascending Bird,” which he performed as soloist with the YouTube Symphony Orchestra at the Sydney Opera House, in a concert that was streamed live by millions of viewers worldwide. His work for dance and theater includes Chalk and Soot, a collaboration with Dance Heginbotham, and music for Compagnia de’ Colombari’s theatrical production of Walt Whitman’s More or Less I Am. www.colinjacobsen.com
Kyle Sanna (Composer and Guitarist) has collaborated with and performed alongside many of today’s virtuosos (Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile, Mark Gould, Theodosii Spassov), with some of the greatest living interpreters of Irish music (Kevin Burke, Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill), and with many members of New York’s experimental scene. He has performed his original music throughout North America, Europe, Australia, and the Middle East. As a composer, Sanna writes for both live performance and fixed media. He has received commissions from Beta Collide, Brooklyn Rider, the Knights, and flutist Alex Sopp. Festival acceptances include the International Symposium on Electronic Art (Sydney), The Oregon Bach Festival, and Art Basel Miami Beach. Sanna participated as both composer and performer in Carnegie Hall’s Porous Borders of Music Workshop with bass virtuoso Edgar Meyer. He is a Meet the Composer grant recipient and was a Finalist in the Turner Classic Movies’ Young Film Composers Competition. http://kylesanna.com/
Eric Jacobsen (Composer) Hailed by the New York Times as “an interpretive dynamo,” conductor and cellist Eric Jacobsen is Co-Artistic Director and conductor of The Knights, serves as the Music Director for both the Orlando Philharmonic and the Greater Bridgeport Symphony, and is Artistic Partner with the Northwest Sinfonietta. As conductor, Jacobsen has led The Knights at such venues as Central Park’s Naumburg Orchestral Concerts, Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival, (Le) Poisson Rouge, the 92nd Street Y, Carnegie Hall, and Lincoln Center; at music festivals at Tanglewood, Ravinia, Ojai, and the Easter Festival (Festival de Pâques) in Aix-en-Provence; and at international venues such as the Cologne Philharmonie, Düsseldorf Tonhalle, the Salzburg Großes Festspielhaus, the Vienna Musikverein, National Gallery of Dublin, the Dresden Musikfestspiele, and the new Hamburg Elbphilharmonie. Recent collaborators include violinist Itzhak Perlman, singers Dawn Upshaw, Susan Graham, and Nicholas Phan, and pianists Emanuel Ax and Jean-Yves Thibaudet. He has also conducted the symphony orchestras of Baltimore, Detroit, Alabama, the New World, Naples, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra, and the Deutsche Philharmonie Merck. Jacobsen is a member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble and, as a founding member of the string quartet Brooklyn Rider, he has taken part in a wealth of world premieres and toured extensively in North America, Europe, and Asia, and is credited with helping to ensure “the future of classical music in America” (The Los Angeles Times). Along with his brother Colin, Jacobsen received a prestigious United States Artists Fellowship. http://www.jacobseneric.com/
Alex Sopp (Composer) is a musician and artist living in Brooklyn. As the flutist of yMusic, The Knights, and NOW Ensemble, The New York Times has praised her playing as “exquisite” and “beautifully nuanced.” Alex has commissioned, premiered, toured, and recorded with Paul Simon, Nico Muhly, Sufjan Stevens, Ben Folds, Philip Glass, Bruce Hornsby, Son Lux, The National, and many others. She made her Carnegie Hall debut with the New York Youth Symphony and has appeared as a soloist with the New York Philharmonic. She has been a guest artist with the International Comtemporary Ensemble (ICE), and has made regular appearances with Deutsche Kammerphilarmonie Bremen, the Mariinsky Orchestra, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and the Louisiana Philharmonic. In addition to playing the flute, Alex is a singer and a visual artist. Most recently, she was a member of Paul Simon’s band for his “Farewell Tour.” She appeared as a multi-disciplinary performer and singer in theater director John Tiffany’s production of Gabriel Kahane’s “The Ambassador,” and her voice can be heard on several albums, including the yMusic + Ben Folds collaboration, “So There”. She completed both her Bachelors and Masters degrees at The Juilliard School. www.alexsopp.com
Dietrice A. Bolden (Performer) started her vocal training in the church and her classical training at the Choir Academy of Harlem, where she was taught by the former Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano Lorna M. Myers along with other professors/alumni from the Juilliard School of the Arts. While in the Girls Choir of Harlem she performed with Lena Horne, Kathleen Battle, Jessye Norman, and other musical legends. Dietrice is now the Managing Director of IMPACT Repertory Theatre. She has done performances with IMPACT as a lead vocalist singing at the United Nations and the Apollo Theater. She appeared in the Warner Brothers’ release August Rush and performed and co-written the 2007 Academy Award-nominated single “Raise It Up”. Dietrice’s Off-Broadway credits include Daniel Beaty’s Adelco Award-nominated Tearing Down The Walls and Tyrone Stanley’s Souls on Fire. Dietrice is also a member of Compagnia de’ Colombari, where she has performed in various plays including Gertrude Stein’s The World Is Round and Walt Whitman’s Strangers and Other Angels and More or Less I Am.
Sarah Heltzel (Performer) has performed with Compagnia de’ Colombari in Strangers and Other Angels, More or Less I Am, and workshops of Orfeo, Judith and The World is Round Is Round Is Round. Select opera credits include Carmen (Tacoma), Eboli in Don Carlo (Wichita Grand), Siegrune in Die Walküre and Flora in La Traviata(Seattle), Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana (String Orchestra of Brooklyn), Jo in Little Women, Musetta in La Bohème and Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni (Opera on the James), Suzuki in Madama Butterfly (Indianapolis, Amarillo, Syracuse, Nevada & Opera on the James). Up next, Sarah returns to NYCO for
Brokeback Mountain, Carmen in Wichita, and Desirée in A Little Night Music for OperaRoanoke.
Sandro Isaack (Performer) is a New York based Brazilian actor and storyteller. Off Broadway: Brecht’s Arturo Ui (Ontological Theatre), The Other Day (14th Street Y), Apple Of My Eye (Nettles Company, performed at U.N./Unicef). Regional: The Merchant of Venice (Yale/Dartmouth), Day of the Kings (Alliance Theatre, GA), Marat/Sade, Enrico IV, The Island of Anyplace, King Lear, Othello (American Repertory Theatre, MA), Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew(Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, KY). International: Man of La Mancha (Russia), Cher Moliere (Italy), Edward II, The Snow Queen, Boys From Paul St (Brazil). American TV: Amazon Studio’s Mozart in the Jungle. Sandro is currently adapting his children’s book Stork M.I.A. to the stage.
Giovanni Pucci (Performer) has been a part of More or Less I Am for several years. He has also performed in other pieces by Karin Coonrod, notably Laude in Urbis, in Orvieto, Italy. He is a proud father of three.
Frank Rodriguez (Performer) is a New York based actor born in Montevideo, Uruguay. His theatrical credits includes many productions in English & Spanish, some of which had won him various Spanish HOLA and NY ACE Awards and a nomination from the New York Innovative Theatre Awards, (Stomp & Shout & work it all out!). Film credits include First Reformed, Baby Mama, According to Greta, Fugly andWhere God Left His Shoes. Television credits include Madam Secretary, Seven Seconds, Taken, Feed The Beast, The Blacklist, Mozart In The Jungle, The Following,and both Law & Order: SVU and Law & Order: CI.
Michael Rogers (Performer) Mr. Rogers has worked around the US and internationally in theatre role as varied as Titania, Othello, Robert Mugabe, Dracula, and God. Recent works include debbie tucker green’s born bad and generations; Roy Williams’ Sucker Punch; Kwame Kwei-Amah’s Marley; Tanya Barfield’s The Call; and Dick Tarlow’s Trial of an American President. Mr. Rogers is also proud of his work with Jazz musicians, among them Pheeroan Aklaff, Scott Robinson, Ravi Coltrane, Mixashawn, Rasheed Ali, and Jerome Harris.
Sorab Wadia (Performer) Theater credits include national tours of Oklahoma! (Ali Hakim) and Kite Runner. Other credits include Player #6 in Babette’s Feast (Theatre At St. Clements, Portland Stage Company), CL Chawla in Monsoon Wedding (Berkeley Repertory Theatre), Shylock 1/Gratiano in The Merchant of Venice (Compagnia de’ Colombari, Venice), Bashir Lazhar (Barrington Stage Company), Mukesh Singh in Chaos Theory (Pulse Ensemble Theatre), Asad in Aftermath (New York Theatre Workshop), Kite Runner (American Place Theatre),Tipton Man in Fear Up (New York Fringe Festival), David Akhmet in Faces of War (BIMA-NY at The Makor), Stan in Big Shoot (Lark Theater Company), Darpak in Night Out (Producers’ Club), Stranger in Ligeia (Rencontres Musicales d’Evian, France), Fali in Doongaji House (Prithvi Theater, Bombay), Prince of Morocco in The Merchant of Venice(Stage Two Productions, Bombay), Messenger in Antigone (National Center for the Performing Arts, Bombay), Raj Dhawan in Bunty Berman Presents… (The New Group), Andre/Heinz/Ali in Nymph Errant (Prospect Theater), Sultan of Nubai in Pool Boy (Barrington Stage Company), Brigadoon (Irish Repertory Theatre), Hussein Al-Mansour in Jihad! The Musical (Edinburgh Fringe Festival), Pangloss/Voltaire in Candide (Peabody Theatre). Film: The Spectacular Jihad of Taz Rahim, New York, Suburban Girl, Hiding Divya. Television: The Blacklist: Redemption, Madam Secretary, Law & Order: SVU, 30 Rock, Dave Chapelle Show.
Angela O’Donnell (Poet) is a poet, a professor at Fordham University, and a long-time devotee of Walt Whitman’s poetry.
Musicians: Grant Gordy (guitar), Patrick Davis (steel drum), Skye Steele (violin), Andrew Rehrig (flute), Jake Charkey (cello)
Jake Charkey (Cellist) is an acclaimed cellist with a strong background in both Western classical music and Hindustani music. He is also an eclectic improviser, drawing from his extensive training in both Eastern and Western musical traditions. He is a sought after studio recording artist in the film, television and music industry in both India and the USA. He is a disciple of the renowned violinist Padmabhushan Dr. N. Rajam in the rare Gayaki Ang style and is one of the few cellists in the world performing Indian music on the cello.
Patrick Davis (Pan Steeldrum). From Trinidad & Tobago, Patrick is a steel pan musician, teacher and music arranger for steel bands. He has worked internationally performing in major concert venues and festivals such as Royal Albert Hall, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and Panorama Music Festival. Designated Best Instrumentalist in Trinidad & Tobago by the Prime Minister and won best soloist on Pan Avm Tv 4 competition.
Grant Gordy (Guitar) has been called “an exciting young player who, despite a plethora of influences, now sounds like nobody but himself” by The Fretboard Journal. Based in Brooklyn, Gordy has emerged in recent years as one of the most highly regarded young instrumentalists of his generation. Having spent six years in the guitar chair with the legendary David Grisman Quintet/Sextet, he’s also worked alongside such musical luminaries as Edgar Meyer, Steve Martin and Darol Anger. In myriad collaborative capacities he’s performed all over North America, Europe and in India. Gordy has received attention from international music periodicals such as Just Jazz Guitar, Acoustic Guitar Magazine and No Depression, who describe Grant as “a special musician and a strikingly singular voice on the guitar; one that is worth giving your attention.”
Andrew Rehrig (Flute). Raised outside of Atlanta, Andrew made his concerto debut at 12 years old and went on to solo with the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra. As a graduate of Indiana University and Stony Brook University, he has studied with Thomas Robertello and Carol Wincenc. He appears regularly as a ﬂutist on Broadway, performing in over a dozen different shows since 2005. An active freelance flutist, he has also been a guest flutist with the Hawaii Symphony, the Albany Symphony, the New York Pops, and the Malaysian Philharmonic. He frequently appears both nationally and internationally with the Knights, with whom he has recorded several albums. He is a member of The Riverside Symphony and a former member of the Columbia Indiana Philharmonic and the Florida Grand Opera Orchestra. An active chamber musician, he both performs and has toured and recorded with groups such as ACME, NOW ensemble and Music. Andrew has recorded with artists ranging from Joshua Bell to the Dirty Projectors, and has appeared with Barry Manilow, My Brightest Diamond, and Bibi Ferreira, among others. He can be heard on the soundtracks for Mozart in the Jungle, and 30 Rock. He lives in Brooklyn.
Skye Steele (Violin) has played violin with artists ranging from household names like Vanessa Carlton and Willie Nelson, to jazz legends Anthony Braxton and Henry Butler, and indie darlings like Jolie Holland and Deer Tick. Since 2013 he has released an EP and two LPs of his own songs, the latest of which, 2017’s All That Light, garnered notice in Rolling Stone, as an “alum of New York’s busking scene reeling off dreamy folk tinged power pop.” As an arranger Skye has collaborated on dozens of records including with Vanessa Carlton, Sonya Kitchell, and Jay Brannan. Skye is also the creator of “A People’s History Of The Violin,” a concert and curriculum for anti-colonialist stringed-instrument teaching.
Compagnia de’ Colombari (Company Colombari) is an international collective of performing artists, generating theater in surprising places. Colombari intentionally clashes cultures, traditions and art forms to bring fresh interpretation to the written word–old and new–and commits to using any means possible to flesh it out. Colombari brings performers and audiences together, thereby transforming strangers into community. Colombari is founded on the twin principles that the magic of great theater can happen anywhere and be made accessible to everyone.
Based in New York City, Compagnia de’ Colombari was born in Orvieto, Italy, in 2004, where the company re-imagined the medieval mystery plays and performed them in the streets and piazzas of Orvieto. Having revitalized the tradition of theater during Orvieto’s Corpus Christi Festival each spring, the company launched a parallel theatrical tradition in New York,Strangers and Other Angels. Since 2008, the company has created and performed More or Less I Am (inspired by Whitman’s “Songs of Myself”) throughout New York City (2009-12); Everything That Rises Must Converge (from Flannery O’Connor’s short story) in Rome and on tour in the United States (2009-2015); theworldisroundisroundisround (based on Gertrude Stein’s story) performed at Arts, Letters, Numbers in upstate New York (2013); Andras Visky’s Giulia, performed in a late medieval courtyard in Orvieto, Italy (2012); Monteverdi’s Orfeo, performed in the Palazzo Simoncelli in Orvieto (2014); and Karin Coonrod’s texts&beheadings/ElizabethR performed at The Folger Theatre in Washington, D.C., at BAM/Next Wave Festival in New York (2015), Center for the Arts at Wesleyan University (2017), and the Cathedral of St. John The Divine (2017). In partnership with Ca’ Foscari University Venezia, the company had its world premiere ofThe Merchant In Venice in the Ghetto Nuovo (2016), in North American premier at Peak Performances at Montclair State University (2017), and subsequent performances at International Festival of Arts & Ideas (2018), and Dartmouth University (2018).