The Patrick Kennedy Phenomenological Theatre has announced that SOPHIA=(WISDOM): THE CLIFFS by Obie Award-winning playwright Richard Foreman, will receive its Australian premiere at the New Theatre in January.
This marks the play’s premiere in Australia over 50 years since it was first staged in New York and is the first production of a Foreman play in Sydney in almost 20 years.
SOPHIA=(WISDOM): THE CLIFFS is an archetypal example of Foreman’s uniquely stylized theatre which employs an unconventional fusion of art forms to evoke another world on stage.
Characterized by complex interplays and tensions between spoken language and visual tableaux, with actors functioning like objects in a series of impactful still-lifes, Foreman’s play eschews dramatic narrative action in favour of inviting audiences to become active participants in the meditation on the rich theatrical adventure playing out in front of them.
Richard Foreman has created over fifty plays, receiving five Obie awards for best play and five others for his directing and “sustained achievement.” He has received a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, the PEN Club Master American Dramatist Award, and an award from the National Endowment for the Arts for “Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre.”
In 1968 he founded the Ontological Hysterical Theatre, at New York’s St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery. Foreman describes his work as “total theatre,” uniting “elements of the performative, auditory and visual arts, philosophy, psychoanalysis and literature.”
Director and designer Patrick Kennedy has a long association with Foreman, having produced seven of his plays in London to critical acclaim including a season of three plays at New Wimbledon Theatre in 2019 and receiving a nomination for the prestigious Off West End IDEA Award.
“Richard Foreman is the greatest living experimental playwright. His work is known for its nonlinear structures and exploration of language as well as for his unique stagings, fantastic costumes and sets,” said Mr Kennedy.
“His work is difficult to sum up or simplify, but to say “A Richard Foreman play” invokes a certain type of work for those who have experienced it, and it is, in fact, the experience that people talk about most.”
“I am thrilled that he has given me permission to produce SOPHIA in Sydney where audiences can expect my unique interpretation of Richard’s work.”
“Part dada, part slapstick comedy and part philosophical interrogation into loneliness, I am excited to create this opulent madcap world with some extraordinary Australian actors and to indeed, give people an experience to talk about,” said Mr Kennedy.
“I am happy to have my play produced in Australia with the unique vision of Patrick Kennedy,” said Richard Foreman.” Having never had the opportunity to produce any of my plays there myself, I know that SOPHIA will be in exceptional hands with Patrick and his company of Australian performers.”
“Astonishingly energetic and wildly imaginative, Patrick Kennedy is one of the country’s most fascinating theatre practitioners.” – British Theatre
Director & Design: Patrick Kennedy | Featuring: Izzy Azzopardi, Charmaine Enculescu, Nehir Hatipoglu, Lara Kocsis, Agustin Lamas, Celeste Loyzaga, Beatrice McBride, Katie Regan, Kirsty Saville, Heather Tleige, Luke Visentin | Production Assistant: Felicity Clifford | Writer: Richard Foreman
SOPHIA=(WISDOM): THE CLIFFS
New Theatre, 542 King Street, Newtown
Season: 11 – 27 January 2024 (preview: 10 January)
For more information, visit: www.phenomenologicaltheatre.com for details.
Image: Patrick Kennedy Phenomenological Theatre Company presents SOPHIA=(WISDOM): THE CLIFFS (supplied)