BONNELL’S CREATIVE TRACK RECORD IS UNDENIABLY IMPRESSIVE.
- LA TIMES
CREEPY, ODDLY FAMILIAR, AND MESMERIZING ALL AT THE SAME TIME.
- LA WEEKLY
Oedipus after Pasolini
(work in progress)
directed by Jesse Bonnell
Based on the 1967 Italian film directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini inspired by the Greek tragedy about a man who, unaware of his true parentage, kills his father and marries his mother.
(work in progress)
PARADISE ISLAND is a new performance work based on texts written by Richard Foreman between the years 1973 - 1983. Part retrospective, part future bending reinvention, Paradise Island brings new life to one of America's most influential experimental artists.
Paradise Island explores, through a contemporary lens, notions of paradise, shifting between the everyday events of a cafe in Paris and the euphoric nature of the sublime hidden rhythms of the unknown.
Although the text is historical in context, PARADISE ISLAND is a new work of theater that compresses a decade of writing into an evening long performance. We are giving new life back into what could soon be forgotten texts of downtown loft-era performance.
The members of Poor Dog Group met when they were eighteen years old, and have been making art together for more than a decade. Their newest work, Group Therapy, draws on 16 hours of audio recordings from the group’s actual therapy with a licensed professional to probe the inner workings of long-term collaboration. It is a documentary performance centered on close-knit group of friends as they process their marriages, divorces, falling outs, alcoholism, the hustle of making art together, and above all, what it is like to endure.
Guided in part by the ground-breaking Journey into Self—the 1968 documentary film in which Carl Rogers conducts a session for 8 strangers as they “try to discover the secret of being together”—Group Therapy combines reenacted moments from Poor Dog Group’s therapy with extemporaneous confrontations, chance operations and cinematic gestures. The combination results in an uncensored portrait of how individuals struggle to articulate and grapple with recurring behavioral patterns, ranging from the banal to traumatic.
By means of therapeutic methodologies from Carl Rogers, Fritz Perls and others, the members of PDG sit in a circle and delve into the most private details regarding inner relationships and sense of self. As artists in America we forge our work under the consistent sense of threat—of no longer being able to continue our practice due to desperate financial challenges and subsequent strained interpersonal dynamics. Group Therapy intimately reveals a collective crisis to elicit a conversation regarding the role of theater as an essential social encounter at the core of our communities. Our anxiety moves us beyond the stage, to questions of personal worth, entitlement, substance addiction, housing and job security, and debt. The ecstasy of Poor Dog Group’s privilege to make theater is inherently deconstructed in what could be the ensembles final work.
Group Therapy was developed at The Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA. Group Therapy has received additional residency support from The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Headlands Center for the Arts and was further developed at the CalArts Center for New Performance. Group Therapy is produced in partnership with and managed by Los Angeles Performance Practice. Group Therapy is a project of Creative Capital.
Five Small Fires, began as an investigation into ancient ritual, and the nature of satyr play within Greek theater. Set in a community center, revolutionaries of an abstract New Age movement stew over life's meaning and purpose. A dark secret begins to reemerge, causing the members to seek aggressive liberation. While philosophical rhetoric builds upon itself, the members continue to seek emancipation from the troubles of contemporary life by conducting a series of lessons and tests, which they broadcast on-line. As these rituals collide in celebratory chaos, a higher community is formed through dance, initiation rites and radical apocalyptic anarchy.
FIVE SMALL FIRES was commissioned by Experimental Media Performing Arts Center & The Getty Villa Lab Theater. Project support from: 2013 Creative Capital Award, University of California Los Angeles Department of World Cultures, Center for Cultural Innovation ARC Program, and YADDO. Five Small Fires was originally produced at the Bootleg Theater.
MURDER BALLAD 1938
With a murky mix of desire, jealousy and emancipatory yearning, Poor Dog Group's movement-based work gives forceful physical life to Jelly Roll Morton's legendary 1938 recording. Originally performed in the brothels of New Orleans’ steamy Storyville district, Morton's song revels in the nastiness of its heroine’s voice, whose feral physical energy lays claim to the violent impulses of a woman betrayed. The Murder Ballad delves into the myth of female madness and racialized representations of sexuality.
The Murder Ballad 1938 was presented as part of the 2015 Spring Season at REDCAT.
Music by Juliet Palmer
Libretto by Anna Chatterton
Commissioned by Soundstreams Canada with funding from the Ontario Arts Council
Directed by J. Bonnell
Music Direction by Tanner Pfeiffer
Do you know where your clothes come from? Who sewed your shirt? Where do they live? How much are they paid? Based on stories collected from factories all over the globe, Sweat weaves a vivid picture of a sweatshop’s inner workings. An acapella opera, this collaboration between the Schools of Theater and Music exposes the truth behind the fashion industry.
A Strange Dream
A performance installation that draws from idioms found within seminal video art figures from the 1970's and 80's. Based on language written by visual artists, this new work takes the legacy of early video and reconsiders how digital communication transforms a democratized emotional journey into kaleidoscopic theatrical seduction.
Created and Performed by Robert M. Johanson Created and Directed by Jesse Bonnell
This work was developed with support from Abrons Art Center, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace Residency, and Headlands Art Center.