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PRELUDE Festival 2023


The Lydian Gale Parr

Alaina Ferris, Karinne Keithley Syers, Katy Pyle, Meghan Finn

Theater, Music


60 Mins

3:30PM EST

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Martin E. Segal Theatre Center, 5th Avenue, New York, NY, USA

A surreal and poetic chamber oratorio with music composed by Alaina Ferris and libretto by Karinne Keithley Syers, The Lydian Gale Parr follows the story of a child emissary sent from a high-walled city to deliver a letter to the General laying siege to her city, but she cannot find him. So, she travels through space and time — through ancient cities, ports, and present-day container ships. Built from cutups of Henry James’ novel The American, it is a story of being lost, of feeling displaced from one’s community, of slipping in and out of disparate webs of belonging, yet holding fast to one’s quest — it is about fortitude and finding strength of purpose and community amidst desperate circumstances.

Staged inside an embroidered white tent surrounded by a spatialize instrument made of deconstructed vibraphones and bells, the oratorio will emerge like an ancient war encampment filled with instruments and mechanical detritus. Somewhere between speech and song, it is scored for ten musician/performers: chamber choir, flute, bass clarinet, bassoon, french horn, viola de gamba, piano, Celtic harps, bells, and archival radio transmissions; and features Renaissance anti-masque-style dances performed by subversive, queer ballet company, Ballez, choreographed by Katy Pyle. All the performers share the role of The Lydian Gale Parr.

The Lydian Gale Parr will premiere in Winter/Spring 2024 for three limited weekend runs, directed by Meghan Finn, co-produced by Amanda+James and The Tank with support from the NYC Women’s Fund. The Lydian Gale Parr has previously received support from Hermitage Artist Fellowship, The Frederick Loewe Musical Theatre Initiative at New Dramatists, National Sawdust’s Summer Labs, The Bushwick Starr Reading Series.

Music by Alaina Ferris

Libretto by Karinne Keithley Syers

Choreography by Katy Pyle

Directed by Meghan Finn

Content / Trigger Description:

Meghan Finn (she/her) is the Artistic Director of The Tank. She previously served as the Associate Artistic Director at 3LD Art & Technology Center. Her directorial work has been seen at the Tank, the V&A, Serpentine Galleries, The Wexner Center, SCAD, The Logan Center for the Arts in Chicago, Museo Jumex Mexico City, The Power Plant, Canadian Stage, Carnegie Mellon, Brooklyn College, MIT, NYU, the Great Plains Theater Conference and others. She has directed three world premieres by playwright Mac Wellman, including most recently The Invention of Tragedy (2019). Other recent credits include: I Am Nobody a new musical by Greg Kotis (Urinetown) at The Tank; as well as The Nine Dreams: Blake & the Apocalypse by writer Nick Flynn (film). She directed a short film by playwright Peggy Stafford called 16 Words or Less which has been screened at indie film festivals nationally and in Europe. She is a frequent collaborator of conceptual artist and sculptor Pedro Reyes, and directed Doomocracy for Creative Time. Finn collaborated with photographer Mitch Epstein on a live performance with cellist Erik Friedlander as well as celebrated premieres by Erin Courtney, Peggy Stafford, Gary Winter, Ben Gassman, Alexandra Collier, Carl Holder, Eliza Bent and Cori Copp. When We Went Electronic by Caitlyn Saylor Stephens which premiered at The Tank in 2018 toured in 2021 to The Roes Theater in Athens Greece and OnStage! Festival Rome and Milan. She holds a BA in Theater from The University of Southern California and an MFA in Directing from Brooklyn College.

Alaina Ferris is a composer, poet, and performer who specializes in choral works, opera, and contemporary theater. As an active pianist and Celtic harpist, her music is inspired by a love of Renaissance chorales and her former work as a music therapist. She is one half of the indie-folk duo, Physical Kids, alongside Matt Schlatter. Alaina’s work is committed to exploring ways of ending the cycle of violence and violence against women by modeling creative acts of caretaking, collective inquiry, and communion. She is an awardee of the New Music USA 2022 Creator Development Fund; 2022-2024 Hermitage Fellow; 2022 artist resident at Cité International des Arts in Paris; was a 2019-2021 Composer Fellow at The American Opera Project; a co- winner of the 2019/2020 Brooklyn Youth Chorus Composer Competition; and selected as a 2019 National Sawdust Summerlab Musician. Alaina’s work has been presented at HERE, SoHo Rep, Barnard College/ Columbia University, Abrons Arts Center, The Connelly Theater, and St. Ann’s Warehouse. She has worked with the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, artists César Alvarez, Coco Karol, Sxip Shirey, Ellen Winter, Amanda Palmer, Jason Webley, Steve Earle, Anne Waldman, Eliza Bent, Mia Rovegno, William Burke, Joshua William Gelb, Mac Wellman, Tyler Gilmore (Blank, and more. Her poetry chapbook, 'While Listening,' was released by The Operating System in 2016. Her manuscript, 'To Be Awake Means to Will' was a 2015 Finalist for the National Poetry Series and a 2018 Finalist for Fence Modern Poets. Alaina was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada and later moved to Boulder County, Colorado. She earned her B.A. in Music and Creative Writing from the University of Denver and her M.F.A. in Poetry from New York University. Photo by Arthur Moeller

Karinne Keithley Syers is an artist and teacher based in Amherst, Massachusetts who makes works in text, song, dance, sound, bookmaking, essay, video, game design, and points in between. Plays and librettos include Douteflower (McSweeney’s 64: The Audio Issue), Long Bright Day, The Lydian Gale Parr (libretto, National Sawdust), A Tunnel Year (Chocolate Factory Theater, 2016), Another Tree Dance (Chocolate Factory, 2013), Do Not Do this Ever Again (Ohio Theater, 2008), Tenderenda (Danspace Project, 2005), Four Fruits (Surf Reality, 2000), and Montgomery Park, or Opulence (Incubator Arts Project, 2010), for which she won a New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Award for Outstanding Production. She is currently developing Your Ghost Body, a meditative video game with songs, which will be reverse engineered into a concert version of the game for the Chocolate Factory Theater’s 23-24 season. She has been a two-time fellow in theater at The MacDowell Colony, a member of the Soho Rep. Writer/ Director Lab, a two-time member of Puppet Lab at St. Ann’s Warehouse, and is grateful to be a current resident playwright of New Dramatists. She founded 53rd State Press, co-founded Ur, a dance palace (2003-5), instigated the playwright think tanks and posses Joyce Cho and Machiqq, and co-hosted (with Jason Grote) the Acousmatic Theater Hour on WFMU. She collaborated as a performer, librettist, sound and video designer, and choreographer, with artists including Big Dance Theater, Sara Smith, David Neumann, Young Jean Lee, Sibyl Kempson, Theater of a Two Headed Calf, Chris Yon, The Civilians, and Talking Band. MFA in Playwriting, Brooklyn College (2006); PhD in English, CUNY Graduate Center (2014). She teaches independently through the Pelagic School. Photo by KJ Holmes

Ballez Creator Katy Pyle is a genderqueer lesbian dancer and choreographer who began Ballez in 2011 to explore their complicated relationship to the cishetero patriarchal form of ballet, and to make space for their own, and their communities’, presence within it. Having studied ballet since age 3, Pyle became a professional apprentice at 13; left home at 14 to study full-time in the conservatory at North Carolina School of the Arts, and, at 16, was told by teachers, “You would have had a great career if you had been born a boy.” Pyle was pushed out of the ballet program. Because of that rupture, Pyle began studying choreography for the first time. After graduating from NCSA’s high school program in ’99, Pyle attended Hollins University, became a Drag King and studied experimental dance forms. In New York City, Pyle danced in the works of Ivy Baldwin, Faye Driscoll, John Jasperse, Xavier Le Roy, Karinne Keithley Syers, Jennifer Monson, Stina Nyberg, Anna Sperber, Katie Workum, and Young Jean Lee, among others. Pyle created collaborative work Eleanor Hullihan, Rebecca Brooks and Jules Skloot, with evening-length works at Galapagos (2005), PS 122 (2007), Danspace Project at St. Mark’s Church (2010), and The Bushwick Starr (2012). In 2011, Pyle founded the Ballez to insert the herstory and lineage of lesbian, queer and transgender people into the ballet canon through the creation of large-scale story ballets, open classes, and public engagement. Major works include “The Firebird, a Ballez” (Danspace Project, 2013), “Variations on Virtuosity, a Gala with the Stars of the Ballez” (American Realness, 2015), “Sleeping Beauty & the Beast,” (La Mama, 2016), “Slavic Goddesses,” (Collaboration with Paulina Olowska, The Kitchen, 2017), and "Giselle of Loneliness," (The Joyce, 2021). Ballez Class began at Brooklyn Arts Exchange in 2011, and Pyle has since brought the class to Gibney Dance, Slippery Rock University, Stolt Scenkonst and MDT, SCDT, LGBTQ Center at BSP, Princeton, Yale, Movement Research, Allied Media Conference, CounterPULSE, University Musical Society, Irreverent Dance, Beyond Tolerance Youth Conference, New York University, and Sarah Lawrence College. Pyle currently teaches at Eugene Lang College, Marymount Manhattan College, and Gibney Dance. Ballez has been supported by the Hodder Fund, United Artists, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, the Jerome Foundation, Mertz Gilmore, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Brooklyn Arts Council, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, and over 1000 individual donors. 2013-2015 Artist in Residence at BAX; residencies: Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Mount Tremper Arts, Rockbridge Artist’s Exchange, the Bushwick Starr, the Dragon’s Egg, Abrons Arts Center, and La Mama, ETC.

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