Perpich Arts High Theater Department presents “TMORA, and TMORA, and TMORA”
April 18, 2023
Perpich theater students screened Anton Chekhov’s short story film adaptations and performed selected vignettes of Luigi Jannuzzi’s “Museum Plays” at The Museum of Russian Art (TMORA) on April 14, 2023. The selected vignettes were recontextualized to fit specific works in The Museum of Russian Art’s collection and were performed as Immersive theater with TMORA as the landscape of the production.
Several paintings came to life at TMORA with a fast-paced series of six short plays & comedic monologues that included over ten exhibits from the permanent collection at TMORA. Statues, paintings, and fertility gods emerged from their molds and frames. Mix in some famous artists, guards, curators, and one resentful tour guide and the event was a comedic extravaganza. In fact, even the artwork spoke to the audience! The students used a variety of theatrical styles and rhythms in the main gallery at TMORA.
Five short films were adapted and filmed by the Theater students, their first foray into work on film. During the pandemic, Theater Instructor Tory Peterson turned the Chekhov unit into a series of radio plays and now has moved toward a unit of film study. Special thanks to Khalid Ali, Media Arts Instructor, for mentoring the students in developing their visions.
Special thanks also to Luigi Jannuzzi for allowing the students to approach his “Museum Plays” in a new or different context, to fit the TMORA permanent collection pieces. On March 15, 2023, Theater students had a Google Meet with the New York playwright who has allowed the students to adapt his work “You Make My Frame Shake!” and “Exhibit This! The Museum Comedies” to reflect selected artwork.
Luigi had great praise for the students’ sense of comedic rhythm, comedic language, and their ability to adjust and reframe his writing. He made some suggestions to strengthen the works and spoke about his life as a New York playwright, previous productions of his, and his new play “All The King’s Women” about the women in the life of Elvis Presley, produced in New Zealand. The students were able to ask questions and chat about performance concepts for the pieces. He wished all well on the production.
Conn McCartan, Perpich Arts High School Principal, said, “I thought the entire endeavor was a wonderful joining of a space, fine arts pieces, and performing art expression. The opportunity for our students to use works in [the] collection as inspiration for devised performances, using Jannuzzi’s work as a guide, was a remarkable experience for them as actors and for me as an audience member. All in all it was a rich collaboration!”
Luigi Jannuzzi (November 12, 1952) is a contemporary American comedic playwright. A native of New Jersey, his plays “Exhibit This! The Museum Comedies” and “You Make My Frame Shake!” are the basis for recontextualization by Perpich Theater students. He is a recipient of two New Jersey State Council on the Art Fellowships, two Geraldine R. Dodge Grants, three National Endowments for the Humanities (2000 at Rutgers U,. 1998 at Columbia U., and 1995 at The U of Vermont), the 1986 Goshen Peace Prize, a 1998 and 2000 Finalist in the Eugene O’Neill National Playwriting Conference, and a 2007-2009 James Madison Grant at Princeton University.
Anton Pavlovich Chekhov (29 January 1860 – 15 July 1904) was a Russian playwright and short-story writer who is considered to be one of the greatest writers of all time. His career as a playwright produced four classics, and his best short stories are held in high esteem by writers and critics. Along with Henrik Ibsen and August Strindberg, Chekhov is often referred to as one of the three seminal figures in the birth of early modernism in the theater.
For more information on the Theater program at Perpich Arts High School, visit: https://perpich.mn.gov/arts-high-school/theater/
Two pieces of artwork from TMORA that inspired the performance work