Photo by Christophe Raynaud de Lage. Courtesy of CalArts Center for New Performance.
Valencia, Calif. (June 20, 2022) – CalArts Center for New Performance (CNP) presents a thrilling new work titled Augustine Machine ou Encore Une Nuit d’Insomnie from June 23-25, 2022, at the Conservatoire National Supérieur d’Art Dramatique, Paris.
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Travis Preston (CNP’s Executive Artistic Director) leads an international ensemble from California Institute of the Arts and Conservatoire National Supérieur d’Art Dramatique, Paris in a new devised work. Using the history and origins of hysteria as an entrypoint, the ensemble examines the breadth of possibilities of the human body. A visible alphabet of dance, video projection, and collage become tools for physical expression. The company moves through Hysteria, Ecstasy, and Revolt in this metaphorical testament to the collective experience.
Developed in the US and France, Augustine Machine features creative contributions from Amanda Shank, Marie Darrieussecq, Tom Gunning, and others.
“The creation of this work with our French colleagues has far exceeded expectations and has pushed performance boundaries for all of us,” said Travis Preston. “I am immensely grateful to Grégory Gabriel (Director of Studies, Conservatoire National Supérieur d’Art Dramatique) for proposing and facilitating this partnership, and the entire team who has collaborated brilliantly across continents, practices, and perspectives.”
“Through the creative collaborations of our team, we’ve been able to confront the historical legacy of hysteria while also elevating the body’s potential for transcendence and the sublime,” said collaborator Amanda Shank.
The idea for the project emerged following a proposed partnership between CNP and Conservatoire National Supérieur d’Art Dramatique. An international creative team was assembled from France and the US, with workshops held on the CalArts campus in Valencia, California and the Conservatoire venues in Paris. True to its mission, CNP engaged professional artists together with CalArts students, alumni, faculty, and staff to create this new cross-disciplinary work and provide a singular professional experience for every artist involved.
For 20 years, CNP—the professional producing arm of California Institute of the Arts—has been an active incubator of new directions in the performing arts. Through ongoing residencies, development support, and presentations on the local, national, and international stage, CNP invests deeply in the creative practices of visionary national and international artists, realizing projects through a commitment to artist-led process.
About Travis Preston
Travis Preston is an internationally celebrated director of theater and opera. His groundbreaking production of King Lear inaugurated the CalArts Center for New Performance. Staged in six locations within the massive factory spaces of the Brewery Arts Complex in downtown Los Angeles, Preston’s Lear challenged traditional interpretations of the play by employing a staging area of environmental proportions, unconventional uses of technology, an all-female cast, and a gripping postmodern aesthetic. Other projects include Bell Solaris with David Rosenboom, Macbeth starring Stephen Dillane (subsequently performed at the Almeida Theatre in London and at the Sydney and Adelaide Festivals in Australia), Ah! Opera, Brewsie and Willie with the Poor Dog Group, Prometheus Bound starring Ron Cephas Jones (in partnership with the Getty Villa), and Fantomas: Revenge of the Image—which had its world premiere at the Wuzhen Theatre Festival in China in 2017. Preston is Executive Artistic Director of CalArts Center for New Performance, as well as Dean and Head of Directing at the CalArts School of Theater.
About Amanda Shank
Amanda Shank is an artist and educator based in Los Angeles. With an experimental practice rooted in the interplay between text, image, and performance, her work frequently explores themes of women’s identity and sexuality while also dismantling traditional notions of form, genre, chronology, and performativity. Shank has developed projects with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the National New Play Network, the Henson Foundation, Circle X Theatre, The Industry, the Prototype Festival, CalArts Center for New Performance, Los Angeles Performance Practice’s LAX Festival, and many more. She has presented work at venues such as the Ace Hotel DTLA, the Hammer Museum, Z Below, and Automata Arts. As a playwright, her work has been published in the US and translated internationally. CNP projects include Travis Preston and Tom Gunning’s Fantômas: Revenge of the Image, which had its world premiere at the Wuzhen Theatre Festival; and Nightwalk in the Chinese Garden, writer-director Stan Lai’s site-specific collaboration with CNP and The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Shank is on the faculty and serves as Associate Dean at the CalArts School of Theater and is Associate Artistic Director for CalArts Center for New Performance.
About Marie Darrieussecq
Marie Darrieussecq was born in 1969 in the Basque Country. She has published 20 books, novels, short stories, biography, theater, non-fiction, and translation. Since Truismes in 1996 (American translation under the title Pig Tales, 1998), she has remained faithful to her French publisher POL. A laureate of the Prix Médicis and of the Prix des Prix (award of awards) in 2013 for her novel Il faut beaucoup aimer les hommes, her work is translated in many languages. www.mariedarrieussecq.com
About Tom Gunning
Tom Gunning is one of the foremost film historians and theorists in the world. He is Professor Emeritus of Art History, Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago. Gunning is the author of D.W. Griffith and the Origins of American Narrative Film, The Films of Fritz Lang; Allegories of Vision and Modernity, and Fantasia of Color in Early Cinema as well as more than 150 articles on early cinema, film history and theory, avant-garde film, film genre, and cinema and modernism. With Andre Gaudreault, he originated the influential theory of the “Cinema of Attractions.” In 2009 he was awarded an Andrew A. Mellon Distinguished Achievement Award, the first film scholar to receive one, and in 2010 was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
CalArts Center for New Performance is the professional producing arm of California Institute of the Arts, established to provide a unique artist- and project-driven framework for the development and realization of original theater, music, dance, media and interdisciplinary projects. Extending the progressive work carried out at CalArts into a direct dialogue with professional communities at the local, national and international levels, CNP offers an alternative model to support emerging directions in the performing arts. It also enables CalArts students to work shoulder-to-shoulder with celebrated artists and acquire a level of experience that goes beyond their curriculum.
Conservatoire National Supérieur d’Art Dramatique – PSL (CNSAD-PSL) is a higher education institution under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture. The main mission of the CNSAD-PSL is to provide specialized teaching in drama, as part of higher education and continuing education. This teaching includes the theoretical knowledge and the practical mastery necessary for the exercise of the profession of actress and actor. Rich in two centuries of experience, the CNSAD-PSL is deeply rooted in French theatrical and cultural life. It offers an educational program open to artistic approaches and varied aesthetics. This program is constantly evolving, in particular thanks to the frequent renewal and personality of the teachers—working artists and recognized professionals in their field—and to the collaborations established with other art schools, French and foreign.
California Institute of the Arts has set the pace for educating professional artists since 1970. Offering rigorous undergraduate and graduate degree programs through six schools—Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music, and Theater—CalArts has championed creative excellence, critical reflection, and the development of new forms and expressions. As successive generations of faculty and alumni have helped shape the landscape of contemporary arts, the Institute first envisioned by Walt Disney encompasses a vibrant, eclectic community with global reach, inviting experimentation, independent inquiry, and active collaboration and exchange among artists, artistic disciplines, and cultural traditions.