The Martin E. Segal Theatre Center presented SEGAL TALKS, a conversation about curating, producing, and presenting theatre and performance in the time of COVID with Theresa Smalec, livestreaming on the global, commons-based, peer produced HowlRound TV network on Monday 29 November 2021 at 9 a.m. PST (San Francisco, UTC -8) / 11 a.m. CST (Chicago, UTC -6) / 12 p.m. EST (New York, UTC -5) / 17:00 GMT (London, UTC +0) / 18:00 CET (Berlin, UTC +1).
Join us for a conversation with author Theresa Smalec and New York Theatre artists John Jesurun and Mariane Weems about Smalec’s new book: Ron Vawter’s Life in Performance. Part of the Segal Center’s Fall 2021 Book Talk Series. Moderated by Frank Hentschker, Director, MESTC, The Graduate Center CUNY.
Theresa Smalec is the author of Ron Vawter’s Life in Performance (Seagull Books, 2020). Her reviews and peer-reviewed essays appear in journals such as Biography, New England Theatre Journal, PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art, Postmodern Culture, Puppetry International, TDR, Theatre Journal, Theatre Survey, and Theatre Research International. Dr. Smalec is the department’s assessment coordinator and a member of the college-wide Assessment Council. She also curates a literary section for an online journal, The Typescript. Her research and teaching interests are Theatre and Performance Studies, Media Studies, Gender and Politics. Dr. Smalec holds an M.A.in English from the University of Western Ontario and a Ph.D. in Performance Studies from New York University.
About Ron Vawter’s Life in Performance
From 1974 to 1994, Ron Vawter was a staple of New York’s downtown theater scene, first with the Performance Group and later as a founding member of the Wooster Group. Ron Vawter’s Life in Performance is the first book focused on this incomparable actor’s specific contributions to ensemble theater, while also covering his solo projects. Through a combination of archival research and oral testimony—including interviews with Willem Dafoe, Spalding Gray, Elizabeth LeCompte, Gregory Mehrten, Richard Schechner, and Marianne Weems—Vawter emerges as an unsung innovator whose metamorphosis from soldier to avant-garde star was hardly accidental. Theresa Smalec reconstructs Vawter’s years in amateur theater, his time in the National Guard, and his professional body of work.
Partly recuperative history, Ron Vawter’s Life in Performance explores the complex intersections of individual and group biography. It also offers a unique perspective on an era that spanned from the Vietnam War to the AIDS crisis, putting Vawter’s own activism at the forefront. Published by Seagull Books, distributed by The University of Chicago Press
John Jesurun was from 1979 to 1982 the assistant to the producer for the Dick Cavett Show on PBS, personally producing interviews with Alberta Hunter, John Hammond Sr., Odetta and Tito Puente. Since 1982: Text, direction, design for 40 pieces including: the 66 episode “Chang in a Void Moon”(Bessie Award) and the media trilogy: “Deep Sleep(Obie Award)/White Water/Black Maria”. Fellowships include NEA, the Rome Prize, Rockefeller, Guggenheim, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Asian Cultural Council. He is a 1996 MacArthur Fellow. Past projects include “Faust~How I Rose” at BAM, Philoktetes at Soho Rep.“Philoktetes” at Kyoto Performing Arts Center with Hideo Kanze, “Firefall” at Dance Theater Workshop, Jeff Buckley video “Last Goodbye”, Harry Partch’s opera “Delusion of the Fury”at the Japan Society. “Shatterhand Massacree and other Media Texts” published by Performing Arts Journal. Philoktetes will be presented in February 2022 in Mexico City directed by Martin Acosta. Five new online episodes of “Chang in a Void Moon” can be seen through the La Mama website.
Marianne Weems is a theater and opera director and founder of the award-winning New York-based theater company The Builders Association, an influential ensemble that has created a significant body of work at the forefront of integrating media with live performance. With the company, she has created and directed 17 original large-scale productions and worked with unexpected collaborators including the architects Diller + Scofidio, The National Center for Super Computing Applications, and the South Asian arts collective motiroti. Her work has toured domestically and internationally to over 80 venues including the RomaEuropa Festival, the Festival Iberoamericano de Bogota, the Seoul Festival, the Melbourne Theater Festival, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Guggenheim Museum. Her last four performances have had their New York premieres at The Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Weems has also worked in various creative roles with The Wooster Group, (where she was the dramaturg from 1988-94), David Byrne, Taryn Simon, Susan Sontag, The V-Girls, and many others. Currently a Professor of Theatre Arts at the University of Santa Cruz Weems was the head of Graduate Directing in the School of Drama at Carnegie Mellon University and in 2014 participated in founding a new program there in Integrative Design, Arts, and Technology.