Brooklyn-based theater ensemble The TEAM will continue developing a new dance-theater work "Reconstruction (Still Working but the Devil Might Be Inside)" with a pair of mid-August performances at the LUMBERYARD Center for Film and Performing Arts in Catskill.
Directed by Tony Award-winner Rachel Chavkin ("Hadestown"), "Reconstruction" is built around characters from the 1939 film Gone with the Wind, based on Margaret Mitchell's 1936 novel. "The work wrestles with Gone with the Wind as a Confederate monument and delves into race, representation, white feminism, and capitalism's role in maintaining the system," according to the dance company's site.
- The TEAM in rehearsals for "Reconstruction (Still Working but the Devil Might Be Inside)" directed by Rachel Chavkin, which will be staged at LUMBERYARD in Catskill August 17-18.
The TEAM will spend the week prior to the performances in the Catskills honing the production and building a set described as a "sort of rotting, haunted house Tara," (the fictional plantation where the movie is set.) During this time, they will also lead workshops at local adolescent detention facilities, while the work-in-progress piece continues to take shape as it moves toward a full premiere in the 2020-2021 season.
"'Reconstruction (Still Working but the Devil Might Be Inside)' is a hugely ambitious work, and with as many ideas and writers as we have, it is going to take time to fully develop," says producing director Alexandra LaLonde. "In 2020 we are planning to travel to Montgomery, Alabama, to continue researching and working on the piece, drawing a lot of inspiration from that place's profound history and reality of oppression and civil rights work. In between these two large-scale work periods, smaller groups of our artists will also be gathering, traveling, and conducting research in as many far-flung parts of America as we can manage."
Originally commissioned by the Round House Theatre in Bethesda, Maryland, and now adapted to feature an expanded company with more artists of color, "Reconstruction" tackles numerous serious topics from white supremacy to gentrification, but Zhailon Levingston, associate director and co-writer of the production, says they will be presented in an engaging and entertaining way.
"One of the more exhilarating questions that comes up while working on this piece is how to take the vast complex histories of not only this country but the people who make up this country and house it—both metaphorically and literally—on stage," Levingston says. "What's incredible about working with the TEAM is that they firmly believe that 'how we make is as important as what we make.' What I have learned about this way of working is that the true event of Reconstruction, specifically, is what happens in the rehearsal room and what the audience gets to see on stage is the overflow of all the fruit that is reaped in our process. There's a great faith in leaning into the hard questions and languishing in them and creating from a place of true curiosity, trusting that, at the very least, what we generate will be entertaining."
While "Reconstruction" is based on a work set in the mid-19th century, it is also very much in the present. "America is a country with an unfortunate case of amnesia," Levingston says. "Because of this, many of the things we think are history are actually the same events recycling themselves in different clothing. We have a tyrant in the White House and many presidents who owned slaves or outwardly supported bigotry. We are one of the few developed nations that has yet to be led by a woman. So this 'current vibe' is a tale as old as time. I think audiences, deep in their DNA, will recognize what they are seeing as such and that confrontation is the real horror of the piece."
The work-in progress performances of "Reconstruction (Still Working but the Devil Might Be Inside)" will take place at LUMBERYARD on Saturday, August 17 at 8pm and Sunday, August 18 at 3pm. $30-45. Lumberyard.org/catskill/the-team/