The Catastrophic Theatre
presents the Houston premiere of
Anna Bella Eema
text by Lisa D'Amour
music by Chris Sidorfsky
December 2 – 23, 2011
Wednesdays – Saturdays, 8 p.m.
The Catastrophic Theatre is pleased to announce the Houston premiere of Anna Bella Eema by Obie Award-winning playwright Lisa D'Amour at DiverseWorks Artspace.
Described as a ghost story for three bodies with three voices, Anna Bella Eema is the story of a mother, her girl and her girl's girl: a twin she crafts from the mud outside her trailer park home. D'Amour presents the tale in a profoundly theatrical style in which words and actions become music and music becomes story. The production continues the Catastrophic tradition of introducing Houston audiences to the most original voices writing for theatre today.
In just four years, The Catastrophic Theatre has presented Houston premieres of plays by Mickle Maher (There Is a Happiness that Morning Is, Spirits to Enforce, The Strangerer), Peter Sinn Nachtrieb (Hunter Gatherers), Mickey Birnbaum (Big Death and Little Death), Wallace Shawn (The Designated Mourner, Our Late Night), Richard Foreman (Paradise Hotel), Sarah Kane (Crave), and company members Troy Schulze (The Splasher), Tamarie Cooper (The United States of Tamarie, Journey to the Center of My Brain in 3D) and artistic director Jason Nodler (Bluefinger, Life is Happy and Sad).
Ms. D'Amour's work has been performed extensively throughout the country and in Canada and she was the 2008 recipient of the Alpert Awards in the Arts in Theatre. In 2006 she created Hide Town, through an NEA/TCG grant to create new work for Infernal Bridegroom Productions in Houston. She recently began a residency at Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago, where she was commissioned to write two new plays for the resident company. Her new play Detroit was a finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Drama as well as the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and is due to open on Broadway soon.
The New York Times called Anna Bella Eema "A skillfully stylized, wise comment on identity, the violence and inevitability of separation, and the value of both adaptation and detailed self-awareness."
The relationship between Nodler and D'Amour began in 2002 when Nodler traveled to see D'Amour's production of Nita and Zita in New Orleans. (The play later won an Obie award in its New York premiere.) Nodler was artistic director of Infernal Bridegroom in Houston then and was immediately smitten by D'Amour's unique grasp of the musical and lyrical possibilities of language for the theatre as well as her unusual understanding of the magical worlds that can manifest there.
I have read and loved all of Lisa's plays, Nodler says. But it is Anna Bella Eema that steals my heart away each time I think of it. I have been planning this production for eight years and I can't wait to unveil it. It is remarkably unlike anything else Catastrophic or I have ever done.
Catastrophic's production will feature Elissa Levitt, Ivy Castle, and Jessica Janes. Jason Nodler will direct.
Elissa, Ivy, and Jessica appeared together a year ago in Bluefinger as the Bombitas (backup singers). Since then, Jessica appeared in Paradise Hotel and Elissa and Ivy were featured in The United States of Tamarie. Elissa also appeared in Catastrophic's inaugural production of Big Death and Little Death.
For tickets, visit www.catastrophictheatre.com or call the box office at (713) 522-2723.
Lisa D'Amour is an Obie-award winning playwright, performer, and former Carnival Queen from New Orleans who now resides in Brooklyn, NY. American Theatre Magazine describes D'Amour's theatrical sensibility as uninhibited, intensely visual and unapologetically ritualistic. Says D'Amour, "There's something about the ritual of the moment. I insist on dealing in a concrete, tactile way with the magic reality of performer and audience living and breathing in the same room." Projects include Nita and Zita, created with Katie Pearl and Kathy Randels (for which they received a 2003 OBIE Award); 16 Spells to Charm the Beast, produced by Salvage Vanguard Theater (Austin); and LIMO, a performance installation commissioned by the Whitney Museum of Art. She has received multiple fellowships and grants including 2005/6 Playwrights' Residency from TCG to write Hide Town which premiered at Infernal Bridegroom Productions (Houston, 2006). Lisa received her M.F.A. in playwriting from UT Austin. She is a core member of the Playwrights' Center, a former resident artist at HERE and a recent alumna of New Dramatists. Her play Anna Bella Eema has been performed to great acclaim in Austin, New York, Minneapolis and most recently in San Francisco by The Crowded Fire Theater Company where it received three 2007 year-end Top Ten Lists, including The San Francisco Chronicle
Critical praise for Anna Bella Eema:
"Its beauty and its depth are almost beyond language other than its own."
–The Austin Chronicle
"Anna Bella Eema is a wild play."
–The Village Voice
"Skillfully stylized…Ms. D'Amour's inspiration make[s] for a wise comment on identity…"
–The New York Times
"One of the season's first great plays…a thrilling and challenging piece of theater."