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Documents from Hell

Presented by The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and
TNR: The New Repertory

January 8, January 12 , 1984
Leo S. Bing Theatre

Conceived and created by Yen Lu Wong

"Expressionism was not the name of an artistic form, but that of a belief, a conviction. It was much more a sense of a world view than the object of an artistic endeavor."
---Ivan Goll, 1921

"They were no longer content merely to record the impression received from the world, but to impress upon it the expression of their heart and mind, so too they wanter to change the world."
---Armin T. Wegner, 1910

Documents from Hell is not the reconstruction of an "expressionist dance", nor is it the attempt to imitate or reproduce a so-called expressionist form or style, It is, instead, a new work of performance art created in the same spirit that gave birth to German Expressionism. The world-view, the concerns, the expressions of their hearts and minds are still very much alive in this part of the 20th century. They are part of a vital living legacy for for many artists today. The images, the approach and the movement vocabulary of Documents from Hell come from Yen Lu Wong's studies in the work of Rudolf von Laban, her studies and associations with Irmgard Bartenieff and Kurt Joos, as well as her work with Martha Graham. Her choreography is further enriched by her own conscious immersion in the Asian and Asian-American traditions, just as Japan and Africa had their impact upon expressionism in Germany.

The images of Documents from Hell emerge from and are a response to the creations of specific German Expressionist artists. Burden and Song of the Mother find much of their inspiration in Barlach and Kollwitz, Nobody's Home in George Grosz, Up above, the Burning Sun and Ballad of the Cranes and the Doves in the movement vocabulary of Mary Wigman and Irmgard Bartenieff.

But Documents is a new work, a work of the 1980's, a work which emerges from those many interacting streams that form the life and artistry of Yen Lu Wong.

Ms. Wong created Documents from Hell as a tribute to Kathe Kollwitz, Irmgard Bartenieff and Mary Wigman.

I. Burden

"The fate of responsible men and women everywhere, in the final decision, rests in their own hands, not ours..."

II. War. they say, is far away

Voices on tape--- Beatrice Manly-Blau and Yen Lu Wong

III. Song of the Mother

"Seed for the planting shall not be ground up"
Music composed and performed by Jon Gibson

IV. Nobody's Home

Decals for the Bronx
Voice on tape--- Beatrice Manley-Blau
But Nobody's Home
Music collage by Jean Piche

V. The Rose of St. Joseph

A tale from the Brothers Grimm
Spoken by Yen Lu Wong

VI. The Ballad of Cranes and Doves

Up above, the Burning Sun
Music by Inti-Illimani
Shall We Call the Other Children
Voice on tape--- Beatrice Manley-Blau
The Cranes and the Doves

Choreography and performance Yen Lu Wong
Scenography Larry Swerdlove
Writing and stage direction Herbert Shore
Costumes Gretchen Spiess
Sound Collage for "Burden" Yen Lu Wong
Music Collage for "Nobody's Home" Rhonda Kess
Music for "Song of the Mother" Jon Gibson
Music for "The Ballard of Cranes and Doves" Inti-Illimani
Computer Music Jean Piche
Spoken Voice on tape Beatrice Manley-Blau
Production Management Larry Swerdlove
Assisted by Evangeline E. Griego
Sound David Swerdlove
Photographer for DOCUMENTS FROM HELL Richard P. May
Sound Equipment courtesy of JBL, Inc.  
Hairstyling by Norio Shinzawa
TNR Gratefully acknowledges the valuable assistance of The Goethe Institute, Los Angeles,
The Institute of the American
Musical, Inc.,
The Robert Gore Rifkind Foundation.
Special Thanks to David Barber, Matt Benson, Fujima Fujisumi, Bridget Kiley, Miles Kreuger, William Lillys, Lucy Linares, Roberto Naduris, Fujima Satoye, Dr. Richard Schneider, Katherine Shirek, Tjimke Singerman, Dorrance Stalvey, David Taylor, Susan Trauger, The Wilshire United Methodist Church.


War, they say, is far away

War, they say, is far away
Far Away across the sea,
War is never here.
War is something
You get your gun for,
And go to,
And die for
Old Glory
My Country
'Tis of thee
Home of the brave,
Land of the free,
Semper Fi,
It leads to the grave.

War is
I'll be the good guy
And you be the bad guy
And, here is my gun
Bang, Bang
You're dead
Bang! Bang! Bang!
You're dead! You're dead! You're dead!

War is the Pieta weeping
With her child in her arms
Wounds bleeding death.

Herbert Shore © 1983


Shall we call the other children now

Shall we call the other children now
To walk with us through forests
Laughing still with trembling leaves,
To run along the dashing streams
That play their songs
On stones worn smooth?

Shall we show them
Where the light falls softly
Through twisted branches
And where the rabbits run?

Shall we call the little girls
With fragile bodies,
The swollen little boys
With stick-like arms
To sit with us upon the grass
While the sun spreads
A warm embracing shadow
To unfold us
And heal us
Of our memories and fears?

Metal stars
Raining on a strange earth,
Leaping, bucking, pitching
Toward a cold sky.

Shall we take the hands
Of other children now,
And walk the path toward home
Where there is love?

Call to them to come
Where the night is never dark enough
To hide wide eyes
Or choke the tiny voices
Of tomorrow.

Herbert Shore © 1983


YEN LU WONG is Artistic Director and principal choreographer of TNR. Born in Kunming, China where the dance and rituals of the Miao and D'ai peoples made a powerful impression on her, she has been deeply influenced by her own Chinese and Chinese-American heritage and by the masters and artists with whom she has studied and collaborated. Among the latter are Hanayagi Chiyo, the late Yu Ta-kang, Hsu Ming-chen, the late Irmgard Bartenieff, Kurt Joos and Martha Graham. It was Martha Graham who encouraged her to find her own path, searching for a dance expression that would affirm her own heritage in a fundamental way and at the same time express the spirit of contemporary times. Ms. Wong is known for her large-scale works in architectural and natural settings, principally Golden Mountain at the Salk Institute, Between Silence and Light I, a three-day dance event in Sydney, Australia, and Between Silence and Light II, at the Seattle, Washington waterfront. Her work for smaller groups and more intimate settings include Seres Ceremonials in conjunction with the Isamu Noguchi exhibition at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center and Cicada Images, Moulting for the American Inroads Series in San Francisco. She is also exploring the use of new technologies in her performances and the creation of dance and movement arts for video. Ms. Wong has received three choreographers fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Rockefeller Foundation, The Mobil Corporation and the Regents of the University of California. She is Visiting Associate Professor in the Division of Drama, University of Southern California and a member of the Guild of Tutors, International College.

TOM CALVERT is Dean of Interdisciplinary Studies and Professor of Kinesiology and Computer Science at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, B.C. Canada. His research interests center on modeling and simulating human function with particular emphasis on the computer simulation and animation of human movement.

JON GIBSON composer, performer, artist, has worked and performed with Merce Cunningham, Nancy Topf, Elaine Summers and Grethe Holby. He has composed for the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company (Equal Time), the Merce Cunningham Dance Company (Fractions), and the Lucinda Childs Dance Company (Relative Calm). He has appeared on recordings by Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Frederick Rzewski, Garrett List and the New Music Ensemble. His own internationally known compositions include Visitations, Melody IV, Equal Distribution, Extensions, and Relative Calm. At present he is at work on an opera with Jo Anne Akalaitis based on Charles Darwin's Voyage of the Beagle.

RHONDA KESS composer, music director and pianist, is founder and director of the New Music Settings Ensemble, which has presented premiere performances of works by today's leading composers. Ms. Kess has been a guest conductor in France and Austria, and has conducted in Baltimore, Philadelphia and cities though out California. She received her musical training at the California Institute of the Arts, the Mozarteum in Salzburg and the School of Music, University of Southern California.

BEATRICE MANLEY-BLAU actress, teacher, writer, appeared most recently in Uncle Vanya, directed by Andre Serban at LaMama in New York and in Edward Bond's The Woman at Center Stage in Baltimore. In 1982, she received two awards for her performance in Beckett's Rockaby and Footfalls. She wrote the libretto, Conjur Woman, produced by LaMama and her new play, The Narcissist, will open in Los Angeles in October 1984. Ms. Manley teaches acting and voice privately.

RICHARD P. MAY for the past seven years has specialized in theatrical photography. Among others, he photographed The Pajama Game and Yentl at the West Side Center Playhouse. The Night of the Iguanas and The Subject was Roses at the 20th Century Fox Repertory Group, and several original plays at the New Outlet Theatre Ensemble. He has used several black and white and color techniques for the diversified visual effects in
Documents from Hell.

JEAN PICHE composer and performer, is especially interested in the integration of computer music systems to the generation of video and film images for live performance. A Canadian, M. Piche, since 1980 has worked in experimental studios throughout the world on a series of scholarships, grants and international awards. His music has been performed throughout Europe and North America.

RON RESCH sculptor, computer artist and designer, is Director of the Computer Graphics Center at Boston University. Exhibits of his work have appeared throughout the U.S. and Canada, including the one-man show, Ron Resch and the Computer, at the Utah Museum of Fine arts. His design credits include work on the film Star Trek in 1979. He has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, and was the winner of an international competition to design, create and install a public monument in the community of Vegreville in Alberta, Canada. This project required the development of a new geometry system and associated mathematical computer programming. The solutions for the design problems involved in creating the birds for Documents from Hell were carried out by computer.

HERBERT SHORE author, poet, dramatist and theatre director, is founding Director of TNR. His works include Ashes Dark Antigone, The Vulture, Should the Grain Perish, and . . . toward a world of tomorrow. His articles, poems and short storied have appeared in publications throughout the United States, Europe, Asia and Africa. His plays have been produced in Europe and Africa as well as the U.S., and Mr. Shore served as visiting artist and consultant helping to establish national theaters, dance ensembles, and theatre arts departments and programs in several African countries. He was Founding Professor and Head of the Department of Theatre Arts at the University of East Africa. He has received several grants from The National Endowment for the Humanities, The National Endowment for the Arts, The Rockefeller Foundation, The Ford Foundation, The Wurlitzer Foundation, The Maremont Foundation, the Centro Mexicano de Escritores and others. His biography appears in Who's Who in America. Herbert Shore is also Provost of International College, Director of the Center for the Study of Technology and Cultural Transformation and Professor of Drama (on Leave) at the University of Southern California.

GRETCHEN SPIESS costumier, won the 1982 Drama Critics Award for costuming A Dolls House. She received her MFA from the University of Southern California in 1980 and then taught costuming there for the next two years. She has worked with the Nevada Dance Theatre, The Aman Folk Ensemble and The Firebird Theatre. Prior to Documents from Hell, Ms. Spiess worked on the TNR production of Cicada Images, Moulting.

LARRY SWERDLOVE scenographer, theatre and video director, has been associated with TNR since his student days at the University of California, San Diego. He directed the video production of TNR's Golden Mountain following its premiere performance at The Salk Institute in LaJolla. He also worked on the production of Seres Ceremonials which toured California. Mr Swerdlove directed the Emmy Award winning PBS series, TNRC Presents. Currently he is stage manager for Opera a la Carte and is preparing a one-hour television special for PBS, as well as working with TNR.

Documents from Hell is a project of the Education Department, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), and is presented in conjunction with the exhibition, "German Expressionist Sculpture," October 30, 1983 - January 22, 1984. It is produced with the cooperation and support of the Goethe Institute Los Angeles, and is also funded in part by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and The National Endowment for the Arts.

TNR: The New Repertory

Founding Director Herbert Shore
Artistic Director Yen Lu Wong
Administrative Director Naima Prevots

TNR is a collaborative association of artists, working in many forms and media, founded in 1972. Their work, presented in diverse formats, is based upon a continuing exploration of those links with ancient truths and wisdom that illuminate contemporary life. TNR creations have been presented in China, Australia, Indonesia, Taiwan and other parts of the Pacific, in Europe and Africa, as well as throughout the United States. Most recently, Cicada Images, Moulting was premiered in San francisco as part of the American Inroads Series. Their work is archived at The Lincoln Center Performing Arts Library and the Dance Theatre Workshop in New York.