Scheib’s recent staging of Thomas Adès’ opera “Powder her Face” for New York City Opera at BAM was called “dazzling,” by Anthony Tommasini of the New York Times. (press release here)
- Scheib's staging for New York City Opera's Powder Her Face goes to the Festival Opéra de Quebec, August 1, 3 and 5 at 8:00 p.m.
- Scheib's Platonov, or the Disinherited, after Chekhov, to premiere as part of La Jolla Playhouse's Without Walls Festival.
- New York City Opera announces Scheib to direct Thomas Adés' opera Powder her Face at Brooklyn Academy of Music
Scheib's staging of Powder her Face at Festival Opéra de Quebec, August 1, 3 and 5, 2013 at 8:00 p.m. (quebec city)
Open studio showing of Platonov, or the Disinherited at the baryshnikov arts center august 23, 2013 (new york city)
Scheib's Chekhov adaptation of Platonov, or the Disinherited premieres as part of the Without Walls Festival, La Jolla Playhouse (press release here)
Suprise project with New York City Opera coming soon....
Platonov, or the Disinherited after the play by Chekhov has its New York City premiere at The Kitchen
Writer, director and designer of plays, operas, and installations, Scheib's work has been presented throughout Europe and the U.S. He is Associate Professor for Music and Theater Arts at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a frequent Guest Professor for Acting and Directing at both the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria and the Norwegian Theater Academy in Fredrikstad. Based dually in Cambridge and New York, Scheib's recent works include a mulitmedia staging of Evan Ziporyn's new opera A House in Bali as part of Brooklyn Academy of Music's Next Wave Festival, a sold- out run of Bellona, Destroyer of Cities at The Kitchen in New York, Beethoven's Fidelio at the Saarlandisches Staatstheater Saarbrücken, and a new production of Bertolt Brecht's Puntila und Sein Knecht Matti at Theater Augsburg, Augsburg, Germany.
SIMULATED CITIES / SIMULATED SYSTEMS
Parts 1-3 Introduction
1. Untitled Mars (This Title May Change)
2. Bellona, Destroyer of Cities
3. World of Wires
Simulated Cities/Simulated Systems is a trilogy of multidisciplinary performance works developed and produced in residence at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Centered on collaborations with disciplines outside of traditional performing arts idioms, each production re-imagines itself through dialogues with civil engineering and urban planning, computer science and artificial intelligence, aerospace and astronautics. Simulation practices in each of these disciplines are extremely high-pressure operations. In Astronautics and Engineering, simulation has a life or death value to the field. The number of astronauts who have “died,” for example, in simulations far exceeds those who have lost their lives due to accidents in reality. Bridges may collapse in simulation precisely because they may not collapse in reality. In the theater, we simulate every imaginable human situation—and it is entertaining in part because we are curious about what would happen if... This project proposes to set these operations in relief one against the other, using simulation as a means of contrasting reality with theater and theater with fiction.
The first work in the trilogy, Untitled Mars (This Title May Change), simulated Mars on Earth, coupling material from the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah with the science-fiction visions of Philip K. Dick, Stanislaw Lem, and Kurd Lasewitz. The second work, Bellona, Destroyer of Cities, simulates a world that has become stuck in a loop of civil upheaval through Samuel R. Delany’s monumental novel Dhalgren. The current and final work, World of Wires, models one Earth inside of another Earth by borrowing heavily from the fictional backbone of computer science and artificial intelligence.
Untitled Mars (This Title May Change) premiered at Performance Space 122 in April 2008 and was honored with an Obie Award for Best Scenic Design. While developing Untitled Mars at MIT, I sought out primary collaborations with research scientists, graduate students and faculty from the Aerospace Astronautics and Anthropology Departments. This resulted in relationships with a variety of space visionaries and space anthropologists from organizations such as The Mars Society, Space X, and NASA. Using both live and filmed interviews with individuals such Robert Zubrin, Zahra Kahn, and Henrik Hargitai, the resulting performance was a part documentary, part science fiction performance about the potential for a sustained human presence on the Martian surface. With footage shot on location at the Mars Desert Research Station and staged re-enactment of actual Mars simulations, Untitled Mars also became a run-away antic story of what might happen should humans establish a society on the Red Planet.
Bellona, Destroyer of Cities
"You may ask me what place the image of the city of Bellona holds in the minds of those who have never been here. How can I presume to suggest? There are times when these streets seem to underpin all the capitals of the world. At others, I confess, the whole place seems a pointless and ugly mistake, better obliterated than abandoned. The miracle of order has run out and I am left in an unmiraculous place where anything may happen. There is a deceiving warmth that asks nothing. What use does any of us have for two moons? Objects are lost in doublelight, What makes it terrible is that in this timeless city, in this spaceless preserve any slippage can occur. Sometimes it seems as if these walls on pivots are controlled by subterranean machines, so that, after one passes, they might suddenly swing to face another direction. Parting at this corner, joining at that one, like a great maze – forever adjustable, therefore unlearnable." from Samuel R. Delany's, Dhalgren
In Bellona, Scheib combines passages from the novel with original material, movement sequences and live video to trace several intertwining plotlines driven by a group of characters with shifting identities. Set in a city doomed to revise its cataclysms again and again, Bellona, Destroyer of Cities draws on the labyrinthine world imagined by Delany to express the intricate and at times abstract delineations of race, gender and sexuality today.
Scheib’s new work for the stage, like Delany’s monumental novel, is a story about a family struggling to sustain a reality that has long ago become fiction; a young white army deserter from the South who doesn’t believe he is a racist at heart but nonetheless pulls the trigger on a black activist; gangs with strange candy-colored technology roaming the broken streets. And then a newcomer arrives on the scene. She can't remember her name but is determined to become a great writer and in this city that continually reconstructs itself, she learns to write. As the story progresses, we don’t know if the world and her experiences determine her poetry or if her poetry determines the world. Time slips, and the catastrophes happen again and again.
As William Gibson puts it in his foreword to Dhalgren, Bellona is a “recombinant city…a metaphoric Middle American streetscape, transfigured by some unspecified thing or process, where nothing remains quite as it was.” In the Roman pantheon, Bellona is the goddess of war, the destroyer of cities. In this sense, we can see Dhalgren as a parable about the potential for disaster in the modern American city. We think about Detroit and the prospects for renaissance in that demolished urban environment. There may be a lot less people there today than before—but there are still people there. And there are still people who go there. There are people still making art, still inspiring beyond the city’s porous borders. Gibson also wrote that Dhalgren is “a prose-city, a labyrinth, a vast construct the reader learns to enter by any multiplicity of doors.” In Bellona, Destroyer of Cities, Jay Scheibcreates something like a time-lapse motion portrait of a city and its people caught up in a permanent revolution, socially, sexually, and racially.
World of Wires
When Professor Fuller, chief technical officer of Rien Incorporated, suddenly goes missing, Fred Stiller, her colleague, begins to investigate. As the investigation spirals into chaos, he discovers that he himself is part of the simulation he thought he had been hired to design, and Professor Fuller had simply been deleted.
World of Wires is a performance about the unveiling of a computer simulation so powerful that it is capable of simulating the world and everything in it.
This new live-cinema performance inspired by the works of Professor Nick Bostrom, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, science-fiction writer Daniel F. Galouye, and an armed robbery at a Duane Reade drugstore that Scheib himself experienced is an all-bets-are-off homage to the startling possibility that you might actually really be ones and zeroes in someone else’s immaculately programmed world.
In his 2003 paper titled Are You Living in a Computer Simulation?, Bostrom, Director of the Future of Humanity Institute and Professor of Philosophy at Oxford University, theorized that there is a high probability we are currently living in a computer simulation. Years earlier, in 1973, Fassbinder made an excursion into the world of virtual reality with a science-fiction television series, Welt am Draht, which was based on Galouye’s seminal 1962 novel, Simulacron-3, precursor to films like Larry and Andy Wachowski’s The Matrix. Picking up where they left off, this production of World of Wires is a critique of both the genius and the fallibility of computer simulations—in a world which, as Baudrillard suggested, regularly casts the terms of reality into question. Development of the work has been sponsored by two residencies. The first was awarded by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and took place on Governors Island in New York City in July 2011. Three weeks of improvisations and compositional studies resulted in a draft of the first forty pages and a 45-minute work-in-progress presentation for an invited audience. Following the Governors Island residency, director Jay Scheib spent three weeks developing a prototype of the production with students at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge MA where Scheib is Professor for Music and Theater Arts. Then, in October, World of Wires was presented as an open rehearsal at the PRELUDE 2011 Festival at the Segal Theater Center in New York City.
Engaging virtual simulation practices from multiple perspectives—computer science, philosophy, electrical engineering, and science fiction in a world which, as Baudrillard suggested, regularly migrates simulations into reality, and vice versa. “Wires” with its eclectic mix of forms, will capfive years of work under the banner “Simulated Cities / Simulated Systems.”
Contact Jay Scheib: email@example.com
Mozart Luster Lustik
World of Wires
The Making of Americans
The Vomit Talk of Ghosts
The War Plays
We greatly appreciate the support of all the individuals and institutions listed above. Donors are listed in alphabetical order and not separated by amounts. Please consider contributing to the productions of Jay Scheib and Tanya Selvaratnam. Your name will be added to the list above or you may choose to remain anonymous.
If you are interested in being a contributor next season, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org