Hey Dan Fans,
This is on the front page, but I wanted to write a personal note here as well. I'm the director of the Daniel Johnston rock opera, SPEEDING MOTORCYCLE, and I wanted to let you guys know about the Austin production which opens this week.
I'm pasting the press release below, but I wanted to say how excited we are to be working with Daniel's old friends Kathy McCarty, Bill Anderson, Terri Lord and Sheri Lane. In case anyone didn't know, these guys have all known Daniel for more than 20 years and it's been a dream to work on the show with them. Kathy is, of course, the genius behind Dead Dog's Eyeball and used to be in Glass Eye (as did Sheri). And Bill was one of the first people to meet Daniel when he moved to Austin all those years ago. They also co-wrote several songs including Etiquette ("Play it, Bill!") and Ain't No Woman Gonna Make a George Jones Out of Me.
Here's the release. Hope some of you can make it out. Daniel's coming this Saturday as are his sister Margy and his old friend David Thornberry.
Keep punching Joe,
"SPEEDING MOTORCYCLE …
has won over critics and audience members alike."
The New York Times
WHO: ZACH Theatre
WHAT: Daniel Johnston-inspired SPEEDING MOTORCYCLE
WHEN: February 14 - April 13, 2008
WHERE: ZACH Theatre's Kleberg Stage,
Corner of West Riverside Drive at South Lamar
MEDIA: Contact david@wyattbrand and 450.4395
for more information and interviews
TIX: $28 - $43, Discounts for seniors, students, and groups of 8 or more
–$15 Wednesday Night Shows for the Month of March (5 – 26)
Charge tickets by phone at (512) 476-0541, ext. 1
and online at www.zachscott.com
ZACH Theatre Revs It Up as Daniel Johnston-Inspired Rock Opera
SPEEDING MOTORCYCLE Makes it’s Central Texas Premiere
in a Kaleidoscopic Homage to the Iconoclast's Creative Genius!
CREATED AND DIRECTED BY JASON NODLER • SONGS AND CONCEPTS BY DANIEL JOHNSTON • MUSIC DIRECTION BY ANTHONY BARILLA • CHOREOGRAPHY BY ANDREA ARIEL •
FEATURING CARY WINSCOTT, KYLE STURDIVANT, JOE FOLLADORI AND KATHY MCCARTY
AUSTIN, TEXAS - ZACH Theatre and Austin audiences eagerly await rock opera SPEEDING MOTORCYCLE—hitting the stage on Valentine’s Day. This out-of-this-world rock opera takes its inspiration from cult figure Daniel Johnston, a singer, songwriter and artist who first gained recognition in Austin during the 1980s, worldwide in the years since, and was the subject of the 2005 documentary "The Devil and Daniel Johnston." America's most unlikely pop phenomenon and 'outsider' visual artist, Johnston has spent the last twenty-five years exposing his heartrending tales of unrequited love, cosmic mishaps and existential torment to an ever-growing international cult audience. "I regard him as a universal figure. Though he is relatively unknown, Daniel Johnston is one of our most important and inspirational living artists," says director and creator Jason Nodler. "We all have the conditions that Daniel has; the volume is just turned up for him. His songs are like vitamins for the soul."
From the surprise early success of his poignantly personal homemade cassettes, to accolades such as inclusion in the 2006 Whitney Biennial invitations to show at London's Aquarium Gallery, an invitation from David Bowie to perform at Queen Elizabeth Hall, and a the Lyon Opera Ballet commission set to six of his songs, he has become an underground pop legend. Daniel Johnston ejnjoys the support of many fans, from Matt Groening (creator of The Simpsons) to Johnny Depp to David Bowie and the late Kurt Cobain. A range of artists, such as Beck, Wilco, Sonic Youth, Yo La Tengo, Sparklehorse, Jad Fair, The Pastels, and Pearl Jam have all covered Johnston's music.
SPEEDING MOTORCYCLE, the namesake of one of Johnston's songs, is a quirky, supernatural narrative matching that of Johnston's "Laurie" songs, a collection of more than 100 songs dedicated to the songwriter's own unrequited love of an undertaker's girlfriend. The main character, Joe the Boxer (an alter ego Johnston frequently uses in his art), loses his mind after being rejected by Laurie, realizing his only chance at being in the arms of the woman he loves is to die and have her prepare his body for burial.
"What catches you off-guard is how surprisingly sweet the love story is in Speeding Motorcycle. The innocence of Daniel's lyrics coupled with music that you leave the theatre singing makes this a work that stays with you."
– Dave Steakley, ZACH Artistic Director
Originally staged in Houston by Infernal Bridegroom Productions (IBP) with support from a Multi-Arts Production Fund grand by the Rockefeller Foundation, this quirky love story coupled with Beatles-esque music was a hit among audiences and critics alike. The New York Times said “At a recent performance of “Speeding Motorcycle,” scores of people were turned away at the door. Many moped around outside, hoping someone just might leave at intermission! The Texas troupe's latest work...has won over critics and audience members alike.”
"Sheer fun…A match made in alternative arts heaven…There's something irresistible in the show's blend of madness, sweetness and childlike innocence…You may find ‘Speeding Motorcycle’ funny, touching or just plain weird, sometimes all at once. But you will find it different from anything else you've encountered…Anyone who's ever enjoyed Johnston's work should not miss [this] exuberant celebration of his unique creativity. For those who've never experienced it, ‘Speeding Motorcycle’ makes a fascinating introduction." - Houston Chronicle
Local music legend Kathy McCarty, whose popular album of Daniel Johnston covers “Dead Dog’s Eyeball” generated fresh interest in the artist’s work in the mid-90s, is a featured player in the cast and band. McCarty’s band Glass Eye was instrumental in introducing Daniel’s work to Austin audiences in the 80s and she is prominently featured in “The Devil and Daniel Johnston.” "The play is essentially the dramatization of (Johnston's) psyche, dealing with the iconic figures from his drawings and songs," says McCarty. "It's all pretty trippy."
Joe the Boxer is played mainly by three different actors (Kyle Sturdivant, Cary Winscott and Joe Folladori, who originated the roles in Houston), but at other times he's played by everyone in the cast. The 17 person ensemble, which includes Bill Anderson (Poison 13, Meat Purveyors, Horsies, Cat Scientist), Sheri Lane (Glass Eye, Horsies), Terri Lord (The Jitters, Bad Mutha Goose, Sincola), Adam Kahan (The Invincible Czars, Jazzus
Lizard, Summer Breeze) and Leila Henley (The Invincible Czars); local stage favorites Susanne Abbott, Amy Downing, Adriene Mishler, Scott Shipman and Paul Sanchez; and relative newcomers Hannah Hagar, Adam Smith and Carl Romines..
In addition to Joe the Boxer, Laurie and The Undertaker, Captain America, Casper the Friendly Ghost and Jeremiah the Frog - all recurring characters from Johnston's works - appear throughout the show. SPEEDING MOTORCYCLE includes well-known songs by Johnston including "Living Life,", “The Sun Shines Down On Me,” "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Your Grievances," and a previously unreleased track "Loving Feelings."
"The unqualified success of Nodler's adaptation not only adds another element to the ever-growing legend of the enigmatic Johnston, it also adds another triumph to Nodler's rapidly growing reputation as a playwright and a director. Given the critical and popular success of Nodler's neon Johnston spectacle, an off-Broadway run seems the next logical step." - NoDepression
Read more about SPEEDING MOTORCYCLE by visiting the following links:http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/14/arts/music/14spee.htmlhttp://www.houstonpress.com/bestof/award.php?award=198149http://www.houstonpress.com/2006-06-15/culture/moving-motorcycle/http://www.houstonpress.com/2006-05-18/music/motorcycle-madness/
Read more about DANIEL JOHNSTON by visiting:http://www.hihowareyou.comhttp://rejectedunknown.com
Jason Nodler has directed more than thirty plays in Houston, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Providence and New York. His work has received critical acclaim in The New York Times, American Theatre, Art in America, Theatre Journal and No Depression magazine. Jason founded the nationally acclaimed theatre ensemble Infernal Bridegroom Productions (IBP) in 1993 and was artistic director there for ten years before leaving Houston to freelance around the country. He recently returned to Houston to found The Catastrophic Theatre where he serves as artistic director. During his tenure at IBP he received several Houston Press "Best of Houston" awards, including Best New Play, Best Original Show, Best Director and Best Theater Company. His original plays include In the Under Thunderloo, King Ubu is King, Meatbar and Speeding Motorcycle, which he created in collaboration with Daniel Johnston through a commission from The Rockefeller Foundation. Jason is an alumnus of NYU's Dramatic Writing Program where he studied with Maria Irene Fornes, Tina Howe, Mac Wellman, Leslie Lee and Len Jenkin.
"An artistic hoodlum of the most provocative sort... Jason Nodler is without a doubt the best thing to happen to Houston theater in a long, long while." - Houston Press
American singer, songwriter, musician, and artist Daniel Johnston has made a career from sharing his stories of unrequited love, cosmic mishaps, and existential torment to an ever-growing international cult audience. Throughout his career, Johnston's songs and drawings have been influenced by his ongoing struggle with manic depression, which has led to a history of arrests and hospitalizations. Johnston moved to Texas in
1983, and in the midst of Austin's mid-eighties music scene, became a local legend. Austin record stores began selling Johnston's homemade cassettes, which became best-selling local releases. In the late '80s, indie label Homestead issued some of Johnston's early recordings on vinyl and a full-blown appreciation of Johnston's work was underway. His biggest break came when a camera crew from MTV's seminal "Cutting Edge" show decided to feature Johnston. His appearance on the show made him a minor celebrity, and his popularity spread among many well-known musicians.
Johnston recorded solo and with Half Japanese co-founder Jad Fair and later with Butthole Surfer Paul Leary. The music press both here and abroad began to weigh in favorable reviews. His music of the late 90s and 2000s has been described as the best of his career, as smart, ebullient pop with ringing guitars, primitive keyboards, and a wonderfully naïve way of looking at the world. Although he sometimes becomes sad and bitter, cynicism and self-pity aren't his style, and that makes the little tragedies and epiphanies he writes about all the more compelling.
Johnston collaborated with Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse on the 2003 release "Fear Yourself" on Gammon Records, making what many regard as an "accessible" contemporary sound to Daniel's music ideas. Johnston was exposed to an even larger audience in 2005 with the release of The Devil and Daniel Johnston, a feature-length documentary that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, eventually making its way around the world. "The Electric Ghosts," an album credited to the duo of Johnston and Don "Jack Medicine" Goede, arrived in March 2006. - VH1
"Insanity credibility aside, Johnston has been releasing endearingly unrefined music to the public since he began unleashing home-recorded cassette tapes in 1980. Much of his cult following stemmed from these tapes as well as from the MTV coverage he received during the mid '80s. The finished results of Johnston's Lo-Fi tomfoolery have been covered by such seminal Indie Rock goblins as Sonic Youth, Nirvana, Yo La Tengo, Butthole Surfers and Half Japanese to name a few. Johnston's vivacious pop songs are usually laden with chiming guitar, clunky keyboards, distant rhythms, and a sometimes sinister, sometimes child-like perspective on life. Unlike his contemporaries (such as Lou Barlow), Johnston often seems too lost in his own Syd Barret-like condition to write jaded and cynical songs." - Rolling Stone
Kathy McCarty became locally infamous in the early 1980's in the all-girl punk rock band The Buffalo Gals. In 1983 McCarty and Brian Beattie formed the band Glass Eye, and over the next ten years Glass Eye rose to national prominence, garnering rabid critical acclaim for their musical ingenuity, virtuosity, and songwriting. Upon the break-up of Glass Eye in 1993, Kathy McCarty again teamed up with Beattie to make Dead Dog's Eyeball, the Songs of Daniel Johnston. Dead Dog's Eyeball was hailed as one of the Best Ten Releases of 1996 by The Village Voice, and one of the Best 25 Albums Ever by The Austin Chronicle.
ANTHONY BARILLA, Musical Director
Anthony Barilla was born and raised in Austin, where he received his early musical training. In 1998 he began working for Infernal Bridegroom Productions, a Houston-based theater company known for their challenging ensemble work. Between 1998 and 2007, he served as a director, sound designer, composer, musical director, arranger, production manager, stage manager and/or musician for 35 IBP productions. In 2003, he was appointed to the position of artistic director. During his tenure, Mr. Barilla was responsible for several world premieres resulting in national recognition and acclaim, including the original production of Speeding Motorcycle. In 2007 he and his wife moved to Kosovo, where he founded Blackbird Books, a non-profit library and café. He has composed scores for theater companies in Houston, Atlanta, Austin and Pittsburgh, as well as for Public Radio International's This American Life, and he continues to write and record songs under the name "The Seximals."
Andrea Ariel, Artistic Director of Ariel Dance Theatre is originally from the Chicago area, where she polka danced at age two and staged her first show in her family's garage at age ten. Since her early inspirations, Ms. Ariel has choreographed in many forms, from original, multi-disciplinary contemporary dance works to cabaret, theater, musicals, and film. She is a fourteen-year funded artist by the City of Austin and a recipient of numerous other project support grants and commissions. Her work has been showcased in festivals and competitions in Texas, California, Illinois, Arizona, New Mexico, and New York. Four times voted Best Choreographer /Best Fine Arts Dancer by The Austin Chronicle Readers Poll, she has also been honored with five nominations and two awards from the Austin Critics Table, and two B. Iden Payne Award nominations. Ms. Ariel also performs in NYC with Strike Anywhere Performance Ensemble and The Walter Thompson Orchestra, with whom she is an Associate Choreographer and Dancer. Ms. Ariel has also created choreography for film, television and numerous stage productions. In 2001, she made her choreographic Broadway debut with the Flaming Idiots, What Goes Up, at the New Victory Theater. In 2000, Ms. Ariel was appointed Resident Choreographer of Austin Lyric Opera with whom her credits include Andrea Chénier, Candide, Aïda, Madama Butterfly and Carmen. Ms. Ariel holds a BA in Dance from the University of Cailfornia, Santa Cruz and an MFA in Dance from the University of Illinois where she was the recipient of the 1986 Creative and Performing Arts Fellowship Award.
For advance or in person interviews, details, comps, contact david@wyattbrand and 512.450.4395
Founded in 1932, ZACH Theatre is one of Austin's most vibrant and innovative arts organizations and Central Texas' oldest professional theatre. ZACH Theatre's mission is to engage Central Texas in a dialogue by producing professional theatre of the highest artistic quality, inspired by a unique artistic vision and to offer a diverse theatre experience which is accessible to the community as a whole. In addition, ZACH Theatre fosters artistic education, expression, and development in children, teens and adults through a variety of outreach opportunities.
ZACH Theatre is sponsored, in part, by Austin American-Statesman, American Airlines, Austin News TV 36, Premiere Tents and Events, Time Warner Cable, The Dell Foundation, SOL Marketing Concepts, The Shubert Foundation, Bullock Community Partners, The City of Austin - under the auspices of the Austin Arts Commission, The Texas Commission on the Arts, and The National Endowment for the Arts.
This press release has been brought to you as a service of Wyatt Brand. www.wyattbrand.com