Tonight Split Knuckle Theatre Company is preparing to open their latest work, ENDURANCE, at the Tank in New York City capping off this leg of their tour. Though this is the last planned stop for ENDURANCE, Split Knuckle company member and original collaborator on ENDURANCE, Jason Bohon, stresses that there are big plans for ENDURANCEs future, and many more tour stops are being planned for 2011-2012. Bohon took some time out of his schedule preparing for ENDURANCEs latest opening to answer a few questions about Split Knuckles latest work.
Founded in 2005 by graduates of the London International School of Performing Arts, Split Knuckle Theatre Company was created by Seth Bloom, Andrew Grusetskie, Juan Mora, Eva Sirp, Greg Webster and Michael Toomey, collaborators Tomoko Komura and Jason Bohon round out the company. Split Knuckle states their mission as such: “Split Knuckle Theatre is a collaborative ensemble that makes dynamic, physical, and powerful theatre concerned with the timeless questions of human experience. Using the expressive power of the human voice and body, we engage the imagination to reveal the extraordinary depth behind the everyday. We seek to surprise, to entertain, and to enlighten.” Of the companys work, Bohon reflects I think this company works particularly well together because we’ve figured out how to adapt to each other’s different communication styles and work with each person’s individual artistic voice. Everyone has a chance to be heard.
Split Knuckle comes to ENDURANCE after its wildly successful tour of their last company created work, The Pearl. Making tour stops in London, Buenos Aires, Edinburgh, Bucharest, New Jersey and the University of Connecticut, the Pearl toured from 2006 to 2008. Split Knuckle hopes to follow up The Pearls success with ENDURANCE and after having sold out on its last stop in Connecticut, ENDURANCE is on its way. Bohon describes the show, ENDURANCE is a funny, physical and moving exploration of the story of Sir Ernest Shackletons great Antarctic expedition. Using desks, chairs, and filing cabinets to create a world of ice, snow, and mountains, ENDURANCE weaves the world of Hartford insurance man Walter Spivey with the heroic tale of one of the greatest leaders in human history.
Having created the show from scratch along with co-collaborators Andrew Grusetskie, Michael Toomey, Greg Webster, Seth Bloom and Nick Ryan, the company created aspect of the work is what makes this project so exciting for Bohon. The artistic director, Greg Webster, knew he wanted to create a show that meshed the story of Sir Ernest Shackleton with a modern day man struggling in the economic recession. We weren’t necessarily sure how we wanted to bridge those two worlds together, but that was the fun part. So, we literally started improvising, we would talk about different scenarios and then start playing. When we’d run out of steam, we’d talk about what we might keep (if anything) and move on to a different improvisation. At one point, when we decided we needed a set, we literally would each add pieces of furniture to the space. And then talk about what we liked and what we hated. Then we’d tweak until we all liked our collective set design. We’d start improvising on this set, possibly changing things as we saw fit. But it was always a test of true collaboration- not making it only about you and your ideas, but the collective whole. As for the method of creation, Bohom explains what they found works and what didnt, We are all trained in the traditions of Jacques Lecoq, so I suppose the technique we used was improvising around particular ideas and proposals and trying not to talk too much. So much of the work can get over-intellectualized, and it really comes down to trying to see what works in the space and what doesn’t work.
As the hope that this is only the beginning of the life of ENDURANCE, there are so many dreams and hopes for this run at the Tank. We think ENDURANCE is very relevant to our current times- How can you find hope in the face of adversity? How can you be strong when there are no jobs out there? We’re always looking for opportunities to share this work with a larger audience and with different communities. It has performed at the Connecticut Repertory Theatre and Shakespeare & Company. It also performed for one night at the 2009 Ars Nova ANT FEST and this performance at The Tank will be its second incarnation in New York. The hope is that this performance at the Tank will lead to many more touring opportunities.
When asked if Bohon is planning any more work with his friends at Split Knuckle, Bohon says We’re already having conversations about our next project, which will explore the life and times of Phineas Gage. A 19th century railroad worker, Gage was injured when an explosion drove a three-foot iron spike through his brain. Miraculously, he survived and recovered. But somehow, he was no longer himself. Who, then, had he become? A meditation on the mind, the soul and the personality. Though Split Knuckle spends a lot of its time touring and in different cities and on different stages, New York is still home, and Off-Off-Broadway is still their community. I personally tend to see a lot more Off-Off Broadway work, not only because it’s most affordable, but also because it is also the most hungry. It’s artists sharing something they are passionate about, or artists trying to showcase their talent, or artists trying to have their show seen by bigger important people. But it always feels very charged with hunger. That is what I find exciting about being part of the Off-Off Broadway community. Bohon says.
Opening tonight and running until Sunday afternoon, Split Knuckle is an exciting company and ENDURANCE is a show not to be missed.
ENDURANCE created by Split Knuckle Theatre Company will run November 4th November 7th, Thurs-Sat @ 7pm and Sun @ 2:30pm at The Tank (354 W. 45th Street. NYC 10036.) Tickets are $12.
Created by Jason Bohon, Andrew Grusetskie, Michael F. Toomey, Greg Webster, Seth Bloom and Nick Ryan.
Costume Design by Lucy Brown
Music Selection and Composition by Ken Clark
Music Performance by Andrew Lynch
Lighting Design by Dan Rousseau
For more information about ENDURANCE and Split Knuckle Theatre, check out the official Split Knuckle Website.
To purchase tickets for ENDURANCE visit The Tank or Brown Paper Tickets.