Ashfield’s Double Edge Theatre to premiere “The Grand Parade” at DC’s Arena Stage in 2013

Winter or summer, the theatre innovators who take up residence at Double Edge's Farm in Ashfield are practitioners of the most physical of theatrical forms.

A wave of pride swept over Western Massachusetts this morning as news arrived from Washington D.C.’s Arena Theatre announcing that the Double Edge Theatre from nearby Ashfield would be part of their 2013 season, presenting the world premiere of their own original work, The Grand Parade. I have followed founder and artistic director Stacy Klein for years, decades actually, ever since she began in Boston. The work she and her ensemble does is the R & D lab for theatrical artists, and the small company is always pushing boundaries to see what happens.

The Grand Parade by Marc Chagall, 119 x 132 cm, oil on canvas, 1979-80.

So here’s the scoop: Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater will present Double Edge Theatre’s The Grand Parade (of the Twentieth Century), which has been added to the previously announced Arena Stage 2012/13 season lineup.

Imagined through the lens of Marc Chagall’s paintings, The Grand Parade takes audiences on an emotionally stunning journey through the 20th century with the use of aerial flight, puppetry and music.

The Grand Parade is the first performance in Double Edge Theatre’s multi-year performance cycle inspired by Marc Chagall’s visionary art, life and the times in which he lived and will make its official world premiere during its limited run February 6-10, 2013 in Arena Stage’s Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle. The 200 seat theatre is a unique, oval-shaped intimate space with flexible seating and the latest technical capabilities, built to support the birth and nurturing of new and developing plays

Stacy Klein, Artistic Director of Double Edge Theatre

The Grand Parade is conceived and directed by Double Edge Theatre Founder and Artistic Director Stacy Klein and is created with Carlos Uriona, Matthew Glassman, Hayley Brown, Jeremy Louise Eaton, Adam Bright and Milena Dabova. The show is realized with a collaborative team of artists from the United States, Argentina and Russia and features original compositions by Alexander Bakshi of Russia.

The Grand Parade is a highly visual and unusual, company-built piece that serves as a reminder of the wonderful work collective ensembles do,” says Arena Stage Artistic Director Molly Smith. “The company members live and work on a farm in western Massachusetts, and it’s a pleasure to bring their work to D.C. to literally take flight in the Kogod Cradle.”

Looks like I will have to plan a trip to Washington to Immerse myself in the “unpredictable and imaginative” (American Theatre) world of acclaimed theater troupe Double Edge Theatre. And if I am lucky enough, to peek in on rehearsals at their farm in Ashfield. Inspired by the life and works of visionary artist Marc Chagall, The Grand Parade is an original world-premiere event that will fill the theater with physically daring spectacle that is at once as emotionally nuanced as it is visually thrilling.

The Grand Parade creates a mythology of the American century and its Russian counterpart, from the story of Evelyn Nesbit in the 1900s to the fall of the Wall to the Supreme Court Gore v. Bush decision in 2000. This imaginative, kaleidoscopic mashup of the century echoes Chagall’s life, which spanned from 1887 to 1985, and summons the artist’s sensibilities and personal memories.

“Work on The Grand Parade has been a wild and revelatory experience, from learning that women are still facing the same century long struggle, and that lessons of war and economy have gone unheeded, to the amazement and sheer fun of peoples’ continued attempts to fly, to invent, and to laugh in spite of it all,” says Klein. “With Chagall as our muse, we have dared our way through the century’s chaos, trying to find our own thousand ways to fly.”

For more information on Arena Stage’s 2012/13 season, visit arenastage.org/shows-tickets/the-season/.

Double Edge Theatre’s mission is to create a ‘living culture’ by developing the highest quality of original theater performance, and by cultivating at its home in Ashfield, Massachusetts – the Farm – a permanent center of performance, training, research, and cultural exchange. The goal is to elevate the creation and understanding of artistic expression and cultural mutuality between artists and communities.

The Farm, a 105-acre former dairy farm, today hosts artists, students, and community exchange through the practice of living culture. For more information on Double Edge Theatre, visit doubleedgetheatre.org. They offer a limited number of performances during the summer months, though tickets are severely limited and hard to come by.

Molly Smith in the gorgeous new Arena Stage complex in Washington, D.C.

Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater is a national center dedicated to the production, presentation, development and study of American theater. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Molly Smith and Executive Producer Edgar Dobie, Arena Stage is the largest company in the country dedicated to American plays and playwrights. Arena Stage produces huge plays of all that is passionate, exuberant, profound, deep and dangerous in the American spirit, and presents diverse and ground-breaking work from some of the best artists around the country. Arena Stage is committed to commissioning and developing new plays through the American Voices New Play Institute. Now in its sixth decade, Arena Stage serves a diverse annual audience of more than 300,000. arenastage.org.

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