CHEN SHI-ZHENG’S “DOUBLE IT: A LIVING ROOM CIRCUS” RECEIVES WORLD PREMIERE AT BARUCH COLLEGE’S 200-SEAT ROSE NAGELBERG THEATER, NOVEMBER 24-JANUARY 17
The theater/music/dance spectacle marks director’s first New York show since 2013
“Double It” is modestly dubbed “a living room circus” by its creator and director Chen Shi-Zheng, who is otherwise renowned for his provocative, large-scale opera, theater and film productions. Think “Peony Pavilion” and “Monkey: Journey to the West,” each of which commandeered the 2500-seat Koch Theater during the 1999 and 2013 Lincoln Center Festivals respectively. Created for audiences of all ages, “Double It,” however, which has a cast of 12 Chinese acrobats and martial artists–and oh yes! a mermaid–will have its world premiere at the vastly more intimate 200-seat Rose Nagelberg Theater at Baruch College, where it plays November 24-January 17.
The set for the eight-scene cosplay circus party is spare: a living room with a table, benches and a couple of chairs that double as spring boards for the exuberant performers’ nonstop feats of daring and wit. “Double It” fuses the interceding worlds of the partying teens’ real lives as they fly through the air, tumble on the ground, and joust for each others’ girlfriends on stage with the hallucinogenic, bigger-than-life fantasies of fame, fortune and romance that simultaneously swirl in their imaginations as screened on overhead video. The music, arranged by PerrySmith, flows from the performers’ cell phones and Bluetooths as they dance and take selfies and movies of each other as Superheroes on their iPhones.
The play between the outside/inside of the performers’ worlds illustrates Shi-Zheng’s fascination with the connection between who we are and the mythological beings that we aspire to be.
“Double It,” a production of A.C. Orange International, is produced by Ovationz Productions, which is dedicated to the development, production and management of Chen Shi-Zheng’s work.
Chen Shi-Zheng, Conception and Direction
Chen Shi-Zheng is a Chinese-born, New York-based director, renowned for his innovative and provocative staging of operas as diverse as Monteverdi’s “Orfeo,” Wagner’s “The Flying Dutchman,” and Tang Xianzu’s “The Peony Pavilion.” He most recently conceived, wrote and directed a stage production of “Monkey: Journey to the West,” executed in collaboration with creators of the virtual rock band Gorillaz. Shi-Zheng made his film directorial debut with “Dark Matter,” starring Meryl Streep and Liu Ye, winning the Sundance Film Festival’s Alfred P. Sloan Award.
As a child growing up during the Cultural Revolution in Changsha, Hunan Province, Shi-Zheng was taught by some of the great masters of Chinese opera. He later became a leading young opera actor, performing until his mid-twenties in many productions throughout China, simultaneously recording albums of folksongs and contemporary pop music. He emigrated to the United States in 1987 and has since developed his own artistic expression, transcending the boundaries between East and West as well as between music, theatre, dance and film. In 2000, Shi-Zheng was awarded the title ‘Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres’ by the French Ministry of Culture.
Mike Smith, Music
A freelance musician and a composer for TV and film, Mike Smith has worked closely with David Albarn for over 20 years, recording and touring extensively with Blue, The Good The Bad and The Queen and Gorillaz. He has been the musical director and keyboardist for Gorillaz since the band’s inception in 1998 and took part in the band’s groundbreaking 2010 world tour, which included historic performances in Syria and Lebanon. Smith has been a regular musical director for shows at The Barbican Hall in London, including “Honest Jon’s Chop-up” (2008), “Tropical Tribute to the Clash” (2008), “London is the Place for Me” (2009) and “Another Honest Jon’s Chop Up” (2011).
As a composer and arranger, Smith has orchestrated the score for Ealing Studios’ remake of Noel Coward’s “Easy Virtue,” directed by Stephen Elliot and starring Jessica Biel and Colin Firth. As a partner with Damon Albarn in Electric Wave Bureau, he co-scored the music for “Broken” starring Tim Roth and Cillian Murphy. The film was released to critical acclaim and was featured during Critics’ Week at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.
In addition, at the 2013 Royal Television Society Awards, Smith received the award for Best Music for the Bristol-produced micro-feature “8 Minutes Idle.” He has recently completed a world tour with Blur celebrating the group’s critically acclaimed album “The Magic Whip.”
In 2007 Smith orchestrated the score for Shi-Zheng and Gorillaz’ opera “Monkey: Journey to the West.” Now, PerrySmith, Smith’s collaboration with producer Lee Perry, is the team behind Shi-Zheng’s “Double It.” “Double It” marks the duo’s first music for a theatrical production.
Lee Perry, Music
Lee Perry is a West Midlands-based disc jockey and producer, who has been making music since the 90’s. Perry began releasing his music with Cleveland City, Fantasia, Distance Records, and Positiva, and has been featured on live shows with the likes of Aphex Twin and 808 State. His writing style is mainly based in electronic music, specifically the UK dance scene, although he has equal experience creating more diffusive, ambient work.
After leaving the music industry for some time, Perry returned four years ago, entering the Re-Edit and Nu-Disco scene with notice. His debut edits were met with acclaim, with plays from renowned UK DJs Greg Wilson, Andrew Weatherall and Sean Johnston. His last EP on “Midnight Riot” topped the Juno music charts and became one of the most charted releases in their Disco genre. Various other projects and releases are in the works, with tracks on A&R Edits, “Midnight Riot,” Itchy Pig Records, Magic Feet Records, Autodiscotheque and Hot Digits.
Presently, Perry is now preparing to re-enter the live music scene, and is developing a completely live set using hardware instruments for his debut. He is increasingly utilizing live performance controllers in his DJ sets, which recently appeared at the Festival No.6 in Portmeirion, Wales. As part of the duo PerrySmith, Perry now takes on the music for Shi-Zheng’s “Double It,” marking his first time working with the formidable director.
Ruthy Inchaustegui, Choreography
Ruthy Inchaustegui has been dancing, choreographing, and performing for more than 23 years. Having collaborated with Chen Shi-Zheng on “High School Musical China” in 2010, she is returning to work with him on “Double It.” Inchaustegui launched her career as a performer in Madonna’s 1993 Girlie Show Tour, and has since worked with names like Janet Jackson, Prince, Maxwell, Pink, Gloria Estefan, Santana, Mariah Carey, Celia Cruz, Puff Daddy, Cirque du Soleil, Britney Spears, and Katy Perry. Some of her TV appearances include “Dancing with the Stars,” The Grammys, “The Late Show with David Letterman,” MTV American and European Awards, VH-1 Music and Fashion Awards, AMA, Latin Billboard, SNL, “Miss Universe,” The Soul Train Awards, “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and more.
Born and raised in Peru, Inchaustegui moved to New York city as a teenager where she was introduced to classical dance, acrobatics, martial arts and more. After mastering these forms, she eventually landed the role of the main stunt double for Halle Berry in “Catwoman.” She made her theatrical debut as part of the original cast of the Broadway show “Mambo Kings,” and later in an Off-Broadway production of “De La Guarda.” Most recently, Cirque du Soleil enlisted her for their MJ Immortal World Tour.
As a choreographer, Inchaustegui has contributed to PINK’s Fun House Tour and, most recently, to one of Asia’s top pop stars Jolin Tsai on her world tour, directed by Travis Payne.
Zhang Jun, Martial Arts Choreography
Zhang Jun began his martial arts career at an early age in Anhui Province, China. In 1999, at the age of 11, he began practicing Kung fu in Shaolin Temple, where we won first place in Cudgel play in the junior’s class at the International Shaolin Martial Arts Festival of 1999. A year later, he won the first prize in Shaolin boxing in Henan Province for the Wushu Association Cup. In 2001, he won the second prize at the 63kg level in the Shaolin Free Combat Competition. It wasn’t until 2002, after gaining such a reputation in the martial arts scene that Zhang began performing for film and theater.
Between 2010 and 2014, Zhang choreographed martial arts for “Soul of the Sea” (2010), “The Last Supper” (2011), “Assassin’s Night” (2012), “Blood Wind of the Black Fox” (2012), the TV show “Burning” (2013), the TV play “The Land of the Country” (2014), and more. In 2015 he undertook the position of action instructor in the movie “Xuanzang of Tang Dynasty.” Zhang Jun served as martial arts choreographer for Shi-Zheng’s “Monkey: Journey to the West” in 2013.
A.C Orange/A.C Orange International, Production
A.C. Orange/A.C. Orange International is one of China’s largest theater management, performance and ticketing agencies based in Shenzhen, and is under the management of Chairperson and C.E.O Geng Jun. Now expanding beyond it’s core theaters in China, A.C. Orange has recently inked a partnership deal with Opera Australia. The company is weighing future collaborations with companies from the West End and Broadway.
Dates: November 24, 2015 – January 17, 2016
Tuesday, November 24 through Saturday, December 5
Tuesday and Sunday evenings at 7pm
Thursday through Saturday evenings at 8pm
Saturday matinee at 3pm
Sunday matinee at 2pm
Please note: The press is invited to the following preview performances:
Thursday, December 3 at 8pm
Friday, December 4 at 8pm
Saturday, December 5 at 3pm
Sunday, December 6 at 7pm
Opening Night and Season Performances:
Opening night is December 6 at 7pm
Tuesday and Sunday evenings at 7pm
Wednesday through Saturday evenings at 8pm
Saturday matinee at 3pm
Sunday matinee at 2pm
There will be no performances on Thursday, November 26 – Thanksgiving Day – Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day.
Tickets, which begin at $75 with discounts available to students, are available at OvationTix.com or the Baruch Box Office at 212-352-3101. The Baruch Performing Arts Center is located at 55 Lexington Avenue, entrance on 25th street between Lexington and Third Avenues.