by Elizabeth LeCompte & Ken Kobland
2013, 75 min, digital video
With Spalding Gray, Libby Howes, Ron Vawter, and Jim Clayburgh.
Elizabeth LeCompte and playwright/director Richard Maxwell (New York City Players) in conversation following the screening on opening night, Thurs, May 1.
In 2012, Anthology presented a work-in-progress screening of The Wooster Group’s extraordinary video reconstruction of their 1977 theater piece RUMSTICK ROAD, and now we’re overjoyed to host the theatrical premiere run of the completed version. At once an invaluable document of one of the high points of 1970s experimental theater, and a genuinely radical, astonishingly elegant re-working of the available footage, RUMSTICK ROAD transcends theatrical documentation to become a major work of experimental video in its own right.
The 1977 production of RUMSTICK ROAD has been recognized by critics and scholars as a landmark work that helped usher in a new era of experimental performance. Composed by Spalding Gray and Elizabeth LeCompte in response to the suicide of Gray’s mother, RUMSTICK ROAD combines Gray’s personal recorded conversations, family letters, the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, 35mm slides, music, and dance.
LeCompte and Kobland’s reconstruction keeps faith with the original theater piece by registering, in a new composite, the texture of time and memory that shaped the original production. LeCompte and Kobland have worked with Wooster Group archivist Clay Hapaz to layer, juxtapose, and blend together numerous archival fragments – including U-Matic video, Super-8 film, reel-to-reel audio tapes, photographs, and slides – in order to reconstruct that lost performance. The result not only documents but embodies the unceasing innovation and vital creative freedom of The Wooster Group at their best.
“A brilliant and engrossing work; one whose abstraction and complexity are at the service of genuine emotion.” –Richard Eder, NEW YORK TIMES