Nature Theater of Oklahoma Life and TimesEpisode 1
“Nature Theater of Oklahoma’s Life and Times is a masterpiece…. Poetic and ridiculous and obvious and logical all at once.”—New Yorker
Let the epic journey begin. Life and Times—Episode 1 is the first installment in an ongoing multipart cycle planned by vanguard theater ensemble Nature Theater of Oklahoma. The idea sprang from the directive “tell me your life story,” posed to company member Kristin Worrall by artistic directors Kelly Copper and Pavol Liska. Through their ever-inventive staging of her verbatim remembrances (taped during a series of phone calls), her humor-laced tale reveals remarkable powers of recall and serves as a gateway to a dramatic arena much larger in scope than one person’s story. Exposing and amplifying the core human qualities in the elliptical retelling of Worrall’s stories, Cooper and Liska let every grasping-for-thought pause, every “ummm” and “ahhh,” remain intact alongside seemingly drifting digressions and anecdotes that accumulate into a subtly nuanced narrative with broad resonance.
Each episode of Life and Times has its own distinctive stage treatment. Episode 1, which was coproduced by the Wexner Center, is performed as “operatic” music theater with the text rendered completely in song. Punctuated by semaphore-like choreography with large plastic balls and hoops slightly reminiscent of elementary school group PE exercises, it traces Worrall’s life up to age 8. As the performance evolves you are pulled into the humor and charm of the company’s winningly leftfield aesthetic. The vivid recollections of childhood and entering school—voiced, in turn, by all the company’s members—summon your memories of these stages in your own life. You feel deeply how the specific incidents and emotions described both awkwardly and articulately speak to universal experiences.
As Kelly Copper explains, “Though the language in Life and Times is all first-person singular, the ‘I’ in performance is very much plural. We are not interested in representing Kristin or her biography on stage but rather use her first-person account as a lens for a more enlarged consideration of self, community, and history.”
Already the winner of an Obie Award (for the performances of Episodes 1–4 at New York’s Public Theater), Life and Times marks Nature Theater of Oklahoma’s final utilization of transcribed verbatim texts. This method has also been used in the company’s previous shows Romeo and Juliet, Rambo Solo, and No Dice, all of which have delighted theater fans in past performances at the Wex.
The New York Times has called Life and Times “entrancing, heartbreaking, sidesplitting, even, in its humble way, awe-inspiring” and “an ambitious, brilliantly executed production from one of the most innovative theater companies in New York.” That critic concluded, “I can honestly say that this long, loopy song of innocence and experience…made for one of the most unforgettable adventures of my theatergoing experience.”
Don’t miss the opportunity to see this acclaimed international theater sensation when it comes to the Lincoln Theatre in Columbus, brought to you by the Wexner Center.
Nature Theater of Oklahoma’s Life and Times—Episode 1 is a production of Nature Theater of Oklahoma and Burgtheater Wien in coproduction with Internationales Sommerfestival Hamburg, Kaaitheater Brussel, Théâtre de la Ville Paris, Internationale Keuze Festival Rotterdamse Schouwburg, and the Wexner Center for the Arts at The Ohio State University. With support from The MAP Fund, a program of Creative Capital, supported by the Rockefeller Foundation.
This presentation of Nature Theater of Oklahoma’s Life and Times—Episode 1 was made possible with funding by the New England Foundation for the Arts' National Theater Project, with lead funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Additional support was provided from the National Endowment for the Arts. This presentation is also made possible in part by support from the National Performance Network (NPN) Performance Residency Program. For more information: www.npnweb.org.