What happens to us when we are in between homes? What happens when we are on the road either by choice or necessity, negotiating between the contour lines of imagined and concrete terrain? Choreographer Lionel Popkin’s The Oedipus/Antigone Project uses immigration forms, topographical maps, and an unstable relationship to the ground to approach these questions through intersections of story and myth, and the truths therein. The evening-length work follows a fictional journey of two outcasts, Oedipus and Antigone, as they look for a way out of horrific circumstances, trying to maintain a sense of self while acknowledging that the gods are not on their side. Together they struggle to protect each other within a civic code that confounds them. Navigational tools guide this father/daughter and/or brother/sister pairing away from a state ruled by a powerful few who disregard those who populate it. Told by a cast with disparate diasporic identities, The Oedipus/Antigone Project questions displacement and exile today, alongside contemporary notions of homeland.
The Oedipus/Antigone Project is performed by Barry Brannum and Lionel Popkin, with live video design by Meena Murugesan, an original score by Aaron Drake, lighting by Chris Kuhl and sets and costumes by Marcus Kuiland-Nazario. The work was shown in workshop form in March 2019 in Los Angeles, CA at The Getty Villa.
Choreography: Lionel Popkin
Performed by: Barry Brannum and Lionel Popkin with Meena Murugesan
Original Score: Aaron Drake
Lighting Design: Chris Kuhl Video Design: Meena Murugesan
Set and Costumes: Marcus Kuiland-Nazario
Barry Brannum is a dance artist. His practice encompasses performance, teaching, choreography, research (both scholarly and artistic), writing, and sound design. He was born in Anchorage, Alaska, where he began training in classical ballet. Moving to the east coast brought intensive study in modern techniques including Horton, Cunningham, and Graham. Since relocating to Los Angeles, Barry has cultivated a dance practice rooted in improvisation; his work engages release techniques, perception-based performance practices, and other somatic modes. Barry has worked with several LA-based performance makers, including Dorothy Dubrule, Jennie Mary-Tai Liu (Grand Lady Dance House), Lionel Popkin, Eliott Reed, Nickels Sunshine, Kristianne Salcines, Alexx Shilling, and Kevin Williamson. He appeared as a guest artist with Cullberg Ballet in Deborah Hay’s Figure a Sea, and will perform in the Los Angeles iteration of the Merce Cunningham Trust’s Night of 100 Solos: A Centenary Event in April 2019. He has shown his own choreography at Highways Performance Space, the Electric Lodge, Pieter, and NAVEL, among other venues.
Aaron Drake, is a LA-based composer and performer who writes for a variety of media including dance, sound installation, TV and film. He has a deep interest in sonifying meta-narratives and social relationships, especially the peer pressures caused by social media. Aural mnemonics, EVP and sonic masking, codes and cyphers, historical trends and social tendencies are a few areas which have inspired his compositions.
Christopher Kuhl is a lighting, scenic, installation and conceptual designer for new performance, theatre, dance and opera based in Brooklyn. Recent work includes Straight White Men (Young Jean Lee’s Theatre Company,The Public Theatre, Wexner Center); This Was The End (Mallory Catlett, The Chocolate Factory); The Elephant Room (Edinburgh Fringe, St. Ann’s Warehouse, Philly Live Arts, Arena Stage, MCA Chicago); Quartier Libres with Nadia Beugré (New York Live Arts, Walker Art Center); Soldier Songs (Holland Festival); Ethel’s Documerica (BAM); John Cage Song Books (SF Symphony, Carnegie Hall). Chris has also had the pleasure of working and making art at On the Boards, The Fusebox Festival, The Kennedy Center, YBCA, Jacob’s Pillow, Beijing Music Festival, Queer Zagreb, KVS Belgium, MAC France, and Santiago a Mil Chile. Kuhl was also the Production Manger and Lighting Director for Ralph Lemon’s How Can You Stay in the House All Day and Not Go Anywhere? In 2011 Chris was the recipient of the Sherwood, Drammy, Horton, and Ovation Awards. In 2014 Chris was nominated for a Bessie Award for Outstanding Visual Design and was a finalist for the Rolex Mentor Protégé Award. Chris is originally from New Mexico, a graduate of CalArts, an associate artist of Hand2Mouth Theatre, and Co-Director of Live Arts Exchange (LAX).
Marcus Kuiland-Nazario (set/costume designer) has provided costume design/wardrobe styling and art direction for fellow performers including Elia Arce, Nao Bustamante, Meg Wolfe, Gregory Barnett, Cid Pearlman, Kristina Wong, Keith Glassman, Maria Gillespie, Ruben Martinez, Prumsodun Ok and Lionel Popkin. He has been guest lecturer at UCLA’s World Arts and Cultures department, presenting on costume and fashion. Kuiland-Nazario is a founding artist of the 18th Street Art Center, Highways Performance Space and Clean Needles Now, and has toured his performance works both nationally and internationally. His design team includes designer Sybil Moseley, and artists Johnny Tellez and Kirk Wilson.
Meena Murugesan is a performance and video artist based in Los Angeles. Meena creates experimental non-linear narratives with moving images at the intersection of live performance, video art, and social justice issues. Rooted in the movement practices of bharata natyam, improvisation, and somatic bodywork, Meena centers ritual funk, Tamil folk, non-vedic, non-brahmin, melanated consciousness as an ethical and creative practice. Meena has designed multi-channel video installations for live performance with choreographers d. Sabela grimes, Marjani Forte-Saunders, Embodiment Project, Sita Frederick, Christopher Bordenave and Lionel Popkin, among others, and is currently working on two personal projects. Since 2002, Meena has been awarded funding for film or dance work from agencies such as CHIME Choreographers in Mentorship Program, UCLA, SODEC (Société de development des entreprises culturelles), CAL (Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec), CAC (Canada Arts Council), and MAI (Montréal, arts, interculturels). www.meenamurugesan.com
Stills by Nicola Goode. Video still by Lionel Popkin