Elevator Repair Service. Photo: John CollinsWhat do you get when a statistician and a visual artist use computer algorithms to mix up passages from 1920s literature — and an award-winning experimental theatrical group acts out the results?
We at The New York Public Library have no idea — but based on previous performances of the theater group Elevator Repair Service, we can’t wait to find out! ERS is known for using innovative physical performance and comically inspired rearrangements of text and found objects.
In celebration of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building’s Centennial, the theater ensemble Elevator Repair Service, along with visual artist Ben Rubin and statistician Mark Hansen, will present Shuffle, a performance installation that mixes short passages from great 1920s literature.
Free performances will take place at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on Saturday, May 21, 2011, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, May 22, 2011, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., at 30-minute intervals both days.
The algorithms will analyze and recombine words from classics like F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, and Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises.
“The text — arranged into new strings of sentences and phrases — creates a compelling look at literature that we thought we knew,” explains John Collins, the theater group’s founding director and performer. “Shuffle will blur the boundaries of performance space, private, and public space, and will be an exciting way to experience the beautiful and majestic building.”
Elevator Repair Service is known for their theatrical mash-ups of slapstick comedy, hi-tech and lo-tech design, both literary and found text, and found objects. The script, generated in real time, will be performed with characteristic brilliance and abandon by its energetic actors, who will emerge from the nooks and crannies of The Dewitt Wallace Periodical Room to create unpredictable scenes.
Shuffle was commissioned by NYPL in partnership with FuturePerfect, a new initiative that researches and presents emerging hybrid performance practices, media forms, and artistic ideas.