Thursday, February 07, 2008

THE LAST DAYS OF DESMOND NANI REESE: A Stripper’s History of the World L.A. PREMIERE on January 19th

THE LAST DAYS OF DESMOND NANI REESE: A Stripper’s History of the World L.A. PREMIERE on January 19th

THE LAST DAYS OF DESMOND NANI REESE: A Stripper’s History of the World
Heather Woodbury, winner of the inaugural Spalding Gray Award, and a 2007 OBIE recipient, premieres her new one-woman play, directed by Abigail Deser, at BANG, running three more weeks on Saturdays only at 8pm.
Through February 23rd. Admission: $10 ($5 valet parking avail @ Rosewood & Fairfax)
Show Length: 90 minutes plus intermission. Location: Bang Studio Theatre 457 N. Fairfax Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90036
Make your reservations now: 323.653.6886
Closing night party Feb. 23rd hosted by OB-JECT visit featuring superb songstress Nellie McKay.
Schedule: April 23rd WOMEN CENTER STAGE FESTIVAL at Culture Project NYC
April 26-27th TRICKLOCK THEATER COMPANY hosts in Albuquerque, NM
Running May 8-18th at VORTEX REP in Austin, TX

"Heather Woodbury has that gift common to all mesmerizing performance artists -- an ability to capture an audience's imagination as much with her story as her singularly flamboyant way of telling it [...] Like Karen Finley and Dael Orlandersmith, Woodbury has a poet's way with words and a comic's naughty wit... the show demonstrates the power of the solo artist in tantalizing flight."
Charles McNulty, LA TIMES

It's the year 2014 and a young “ethno-femino-dance anthropologist” travels to a post-quake, post-drought afflicted Los Angeles to research her 10,000-page dissertation on “The History of the World, as Told by Loose Women.” Her final subject: the half-mad, 108-year old legendary stripper Desmond “Nani” Reese, who is holed up in a shack on an Echo Park hillside overlooking the five freeway. With some prodding, the profanity-spewing
recluse -who often insists on conversing with her 27 cats- unfurls a life story which includes surviving the Oklahoma dust bowl, riding the rails as a girl wrestler and close encounters with Salvador Dali at the 1939 World’s Fair. As tensions rise, Amber, the young academic, is at last compelled to confront her own hidden life as a dabbler in the erotic underworld. In the process, these two unlikely heroines puzzle out the history of the 20th century and the future of our planet, and what that has to do with outlaw females throughout human kind’s history- from high priestess oracles in the caves of ancient Greece - to forgotten “show-girls” in bramble covered shacks.

About Woodbury’s past work, critics say:
-Jason Zinoman, NY TIMES
“A tender writer…vivid and assured ..”
-Alexis Soloski,VILLAGE VOICE
“Thrillingly poetic and daring”
- Terry Morgan, VARIETY
“Her vision has a sweep and maturity that is…thrilling to behold”
-Charles McNulty, LA TIMES
“Wildly funny and infinitely sad.”
-Fintan O’Toole, THE IRISH TIMES

About Deser's past work:

“…Clearly the problem isn't a shortage of blazing young directing talent, but the proper appreciation of the director's vital role. Abigail Deser, who extracted maximum quirky delight out of Adam Bock's capricious "Thursday," in the Echo Theater Company production last winter, strikes me as someone worth investing in every bit as much as the current flavor of the month in playwriting.”
- Charles McNulty, LA TIMES

This piece was initially developed with funding from the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs. The piece was originally inspired by, but is in no way based upon the true story of, Lemoyne Redmond - an actual Echo Park resident who lived and died in a house surrounded by overgrowth, down the block from where Ms. Woodbury lives. Lemoyne was rumored, among other scandals and eccentricities, to’ve been a “show-girl” in her youth…
Heather Woodbury is a native of northern California who currently resides in Echo Park, Los Angeles. In her late teens, she moved to New York City’s East Village and became involved in the early 80s performance art scene where she developed her method of generating material via improvisational writing and performance. Woodbury has since earned multiple awards in both areas. Most recently, she was awarded a C.O.L.A. –a 2006-7 Performing Artist’s Fellowship from the City of Los Angeles – commissioning her to develop The Last Days of Desmond ‘Nani’ Reese: A Stripper’s History of the World, which debuted as a work-in-progress on May 26th, 2007. In 2006 she was the recipient of the inaugural Spalding Gray Award awarded by Gray’s widow, Kathleen Russo and by UCLA LIVE and Performance Space 122 in NY, honoring writer/performers who “fully realize” both of these aspects of Gray’s legacy and are “fearless innovators.” Her ensemble play, Tale of 2Cities: An American Joyride on Multiple Tracks, premiered at both venues in the fall 2006 season and went on to win a 2007 OBIE for ensemble performance.

Woodbury first entranced audiences with her living novel, “What Ever: An American Odyssey” (published by Faber/Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2003), a 100- character, 8-act solo play hailed as a “Whitmanesque vision of America” [Chicago Sun-Times] which won the LA Weekly’s Best Solo Performance of the Year Award in 1998 .This epic four-evening mini-serial-for-the stage, directed and edited by Dudley Saunders, toured the U.S and Europe to critical acclaim, and was adapted as a radio play hosted by Ira Glass and broadcast on several NPR and PRI affiliates nationwide.
For more information, visit:

ABIGAIL DESER is currently directing Timberlake Wertenbaker’s THE LOVE OF THE NIGHTINGALE for the USC School of Theater. Last season she directed the Los Angeles premiere of Adam Bock’s THURSDAY for the Echo Theatre Company. Deser is the Associate Artistic Director of the Ojai Playwrights Conference. In Chicago, her credits include CLOSER by Patrick Marber (Steppenwolf Mainstage) with Gary Cole, THIS IS OUR YOUTH by Kenneth Lonergan (Steppenwolf/Roadworks), DISAPPEARED (Steppenwolf/ Roadworks), SERENADING LOUIE by Lanford Wilson, DEALER’S CHOICE by Patrick Marber, THE SOLDIER DREAMS by Daniel McGivor and TWO PLANKS AND A PASSION by Anthony Minghella. Her work has been honored with two After Dark Awards for Best Director and numerous Joseph Jefferson Award nominations for Best Director and Best Ensemble, among others. Abigail directed the pilot of BLOGLAND for MTV, coaches actors for theater, film and television and teaches acting for Steppenwolf West.
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