OZ ARTS NASHVILLE PRESENTS THE WORLD PREMIERE OF MEMORY RINGS, FROM NEW YORK CITY’S ACCLAIMED PHANTOM LIMB COMPANY, JUNE 18-20
Work Employs Puppetry, Choreography, Original Music and Design to Explore 5,000 Years of Human and Environmental Change
OZ Arts Nashville is pleased to welcome New York City’s beloved Phantom Limb Company for the world premiere of Memory Rings, which the artists developed, in part, during a two-week residency at the pioneering contemporary arts center’s warehouse venue last year. Memory Rings is a spellbinding, meditative, playful and often surprising theatrical collage that combines fairy tale, fable, puppetry, choreography, original music and striking visual design. It tells a story spanning 5,000 years of human and environmental change, all under the watchful gaze of the world’s oldest living tree.
Phantom Limb Company will perform the 75-minute work June 18, 19 & 20 at 7pm. (June 18 is a preview performance for school groups and special guests; critics are welcome June 19 & 20.) Tickets, $35 – $47.50, can be purchased at ozartsnashville.org. OZ Arts Nashville is located at 6172 Cockrill Bend Circle in Nashville, TN.
Inspired by the Methuselah Tree, a California bristlecone pine estimated to be more than 4,800 years old, Memory Rings is the second installment in Phantom Limb’s trilogy of original works about the environment. Its time-bending forest dreamscapes—incorporating everything from the epic tale of Gilgamesh to our penchant for Google searches—chart the humor and hubris of our species, the loss of our identification with the natural world, and the hope that we may yet be able to rewrite our story.
In Memory Rings, we watch as a family’s increasingly fraught and sometimes comic interactions with each other, technology and the outside world unfold in wordless but recognizable vignettes. Directed and designed by visual artist/designer Jessica Grindstaff, the spectacular production features puppets by her Phantom Limb co-founder Erik Sanko and choreography by Ryan Heffington, best known for his collaborations with pop music artists such as Florence and the Machine, FKA Twigs and Arcade Fire. (He won Best Choreography at the MTV Video Music Awards for his work on Sia’s “Chandelier.”) Marionettes and dancers with full head masks—blurring the boundaries between human and animal, present and past, dream and reality—depict the many characters lurking in our forests. Indeed, the environment itself is a central character in the story, supported by evocative projections by Keith Skretch (a celebrated collaborator of Big Dance Theater, Mallory Catlett, Jay Scheib and others) and a lush soundscape by composer Erik Sanko and sound designer Darron L. West (Trisha Brown, Bill T. Jones, Peter and the Starcatcher on Broadway). Eventually, the family, fairy tale and natural worlds collide in an unforgettable moment of reckoning.
Memory Rings is a meditation on the way we live now—on our conflicted, uneasy relationship with the subjects of climate change and environmental degradation. Grindstaff says of Memory Rings, “Reams have already been written about the environmental crisis, a topic that demands our attention but is typically met with avoidance or fatigue. And though numerous artists are tackling it from a variety of perspectives, the results are often unsatisfying: naive, didactic, or sentimental.” Drawing inspiration from The Dark Mountain Project, an alliance of writers and artists founded by ex-environmental activist Paul Kingsnorth, Phantom Limb is less interested in the “save the world” strategies of climate scientists and political action groups than in carving out, in Memory Rings, “a space to sit with our apprehension, our grief, our foolishness and our hope.”
Memory Rings is commissioned by BAM (for the 2016 Next Wave Festival), CAP UCLA, and the New York University Abu Dhabi Arts Center. Development residencies have been provided by OZ Arts Nashville, the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation/Rauschenberg Residency, MASS MoCA in North Adams, MA, and The Hermitage. Additional support has been provided by the Jim Henson Foundation and NewMusic USA.
Memory Rings is produced by Mara Isaacs, Octopus Theatricals.
About Phantom Limb Company
Phantom Limb Company has garnered international acclaim for marionette puppetry and for its collaborative, multimedia theatrical productions. Co-founded in 2007 by installation artist, painter and set designer Jessica Grindstaff and composer and puppet maker Erik Sanko, the has produced The Fortune Teller; Dear Mme.; The Devil You Know, with Ping Chong; Lemony Snicket’s The Composer Is Dead, with Berkeley Repertory Theatre; 69 ̊ S., with The Kronos Quartet; and Peer Gynt with Republique Theatre in Copenhagen. Future productions are a top secret theatrical experience on a boat in NYC framed around Moby Dick and the third installment of their environmental trilogy, based around water, butoh, puppetry and Fukushima.
About OZ Arts Nashville
As the newest 501(c)3 contemporary arts institution in the midsouth region, OZ Arts' particular style of programming has begun to transform the cultural landscape of Nashville. Utilizing the venue's flexibility, OZ Arts presents the work of leading artists from around the world, offering an intimate context for performing and visual art programs that challenge and inspire a diverse range of curious audiences.
OZ Arts also serves as a catalyst for local creativity through a program called TNT (Thursday Night Things). TNT is a quarterly series of unexpected collaborations with Nashville-based artists from varying creative disciplines. OZ Arts' "blank slate" provides a platform onto which these artists can create, develop and present a one-time-only event that would traditionally not be seen in a visual art gallery or theatre.
OZ Arts is located in the former C.A.O. cigar warehouse owned by Nashville’s Ozgener family. Their generosity provided the seed money that breathed new life into the column-free, 10,000 square-foot space nestled amidst artfully landscaped grounds.