Public Moves Ensemble Theatre Brings Slapstick, Seduction and Genocide to North County

PUUF-Alpenstock-emailFor Immediate Release
Contact Michael Mufson 760-716-7098

Public Moves Ensemble Theatre will perform the American premiere production of “Alpenstock” by French playwright Rémi de Vos and translated by Gwynneth Dowling, at the Palomar Unitarian Universalist Fellowship on November 22 and 23 at 7:00 P.M. Proceeds from these performances will benefit the fellowship’s Peace Team.

“Alpenstock” is a hilarious provocation that boldly challenges us to confront a variety of national obsessions. It revolves around Fritz and Grete, who live an apparently idyllic, conservative life . . . until Grete buys “foreign” detergent at The International Market to clean their chalet. Suddenly a suave foreigner penetrates their defenses and disrupts their predictable world, leading to seduction, slapstick and genocide.

John Polak as Fritz and Christina Wenning as Grete - emailRecently performed at the San Diego Fringe Festival, “Alpenstock” received a Critic’s Pick. The Union Tribune called it “A zany absurdist romp . . . a bawdy production that doesn’t take itself too seriously, with lots of laughs . . . some political ideas . . . a broad comic free-for-all.”

The circus of “Alpenstock” re-enacts the phenomena of nationalism, racism, sexism, immigration and violence. Although written in France and set within the context of Europe, ”Alpenstock” transcends its original context and speaks volumes to these phenomena as they exist in our own culture and community.

Marcos Martinez first saw a production of “Alpenstock” while teaching the Suzuki Method of Actor Training in Athens, Greece. As he describes, “It was a French play translated into Greek, and even though I didn’t understand a word, the action was hilarious and very clear. I couldn’t wait to see it again the next night.”

Inspired by the Greek production, Martinez commissioned Gwynneth Dowling to translate the play from the original French into English. He shared the translation with director Michael Mufson. “When I read the script I immediately grasped its potential to be a hysterical yet profound provocation to recognize some disturbing truths about our world while laughing our butts off.”

After Mufson and Martinez invited John Polak to play Fritz, they decided to create an umbrella organization to foster new theatre projects that engage communities, subjects, and forms that are ignored by the mainstream, commercially-oriented theatre. All three also share a background and passion for physical theatre. They set about to conceive a name and mission that would encompass these intentions, and arrived at Public Moves Ensemble Marcos Martinez as Yosip and Christina Wenning as Grete - emailTheatre with the mission, “To create theatre for the public good.”

“This immediately raised the question of what is the public good,” said Mufson. “Rather than offering some set answer, we are interested in theatre that provokes this question and stimulates discussion of what is in the public good. According to Christina Wenning, who plays Grete, “We are convinced that, in our current culture of apathy, partisan antipathy, technological disconnection, and pervasive violence, this is the most important question we can ask.”

The Palomar Unitarian Universalist Fellowship is located at 1600 Buena Vista Drive in Vista. Tickets are $10.00. For more information visit http://www.publicmoves.org

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City Beat Article Jul 24, 2013

A thinker’s theater

The new performance group Public Moves makes it for the masses

By Alex Zaragoza

a&cPublic Moves’ Michael Mufson (left) and John Polak spread social justice through theater.
– Photo by Alex Zaragoza

 

“Stay away from my pipeline!” bellows the smarmy Senator Cash in front of the hordes of Comic-Con attendees making their way into the San Diego Convention Center. Dressed in a Wall Street-slickster suit, he’s shilling for the Keystone Pipeline, which would carry Canadian tar sands across the United States for refining.
Senator Cash loves money. You can see it in his eyes— mainly because there are big, glittery dollar signs on the lenses of his U.S.-flag-emblazoned sunglasses. And that’s why Senator Cash loves oil—big, black, juicy oil that will make his wallet nice and thick. He doesn’t give a damn about the environment.Another thing about Senator Cash: He’s a farce. No, not in the accidental way so many ultra-right-wing conservatives tend to be farcical; he’s an actual farce, an activist street-theater character created by Michael Mufson that Mufson takes to protests under the umbrella ofPublic Moves Ensemble Theater.Only 8 months old, Public Moves’ mission and motto is to create “theater projects for the public good.” The company is the brainchild of Mufson, John Polak and Marcos Martinez. They’re theater professors at Palomar College, Mesa College and California State University, San Marcos, respectively, and have been involved in all aspects of theater for 20 years or longer.

“I think, in some ways, [Public Moves] is a maturation of all three of us,” Mufson says. “We’ve known each other for 15 years and we’ve gone together frequently over those years and talked about what we love about the theater and talked about our politics and our points of views.”

Judging by Mufson’s T-shirt, which has an American flag on the chest and reads “Please stand by… our democracy is experiencing technical difficulties,” it’s safe to say some of those discussions were subversive.

“We agree on many things, disagree on some things,” he continues. “But we agree that theater should address the political, social-justice culture that we’re in. And so now, we’re three mature theater artists, three mature teachers who’ve reached a point in their lives where we have the opportunity to make all of those things concrete in the form of a company that engages in the public.”

It was through these discussions that they decided to start making the kind of theater they want to see: didactic performance that borrows from various theatrical forms. Those include Brechtian theater, which calls for repeated breaking down of the fourth wall; the theater-of-the-oppressed method of using performance as a means of political and social awareness; Tina Landau and Anne Bogart’s “viewpoints” technique, an emphasis on movement and gesture; and Jerzy Grotowski’s “poor theater,” which means doing it all on a shoestring budget. But, above all, they want it to be fun—“theatrically delicious and intellectually nutritious,” as Mufson puts it.

The ensemble company takes a grassroots approach, working collaboratively and collectively on projects.

“Public Moves also exists to explore models of theater and explore ways of making, because if you make it with hierarchical power structures, then the product reflects hierarchical power structures,” Polak explains.

“I believe what I see around me is a slave-ish acceptance of the community model of doing theater,” adds Martinez, a master of the Suzuki method of acting, which incorporates martial arts and ancient-Greek theater styles to build an actor’s awareness of his body. He says he’s dissatisfied with what he thinks is contemporary theater’s lack of nerve.

“We wanted to do theater that is about people, real situations and things that are not being covered in the media.”

So far, Public Moves has been able to apply its principles to two productions. Earlier this year, Martinez directed Dreams in the Sand at CSU, San Marcos. Written by Escondido playwright Joe Powers, it tells the story of an immigrant who dies in the desert while attempting to cross back into America after being deported. When it was in rehearsals, the trio decided to make it the first Public Moves production.

Later, at a festival in Greece, Martinez discovered a radical new play by French playwright Remi de Vos that addresses violence and immigration in Europe. The play, Alpenstock, is an absurdist satire of nationalism and xenophobic attitudes in Germany: A lederhosen-clad husband named Fritz fears his good German housewife, Grete, has been corrupted after purchasing foreign laundry detergent. Freedom fries, anyone?

Martinez felt the play’s themes meshed well with current events, particularly border issues in San Diego, much like the way Arthur Miller’s The Crucible—about the Salem witch hunts in 17th-century Massachusetts—made perfect sense in the era of McCarthyism.

“The idea of Public Moves was to do theater that speaks to the human condition in contemporary society, which is what theater is supposed to do,” Martinez says.

He fell in love with the play’s ideas and style, despite knowing zero Greek. So he had it translated. Reading it in English, he loved it even more and decided to share it with his comrades. The men, along with actress and teacher Christina Wenning, staged the play at the San Diego Fringe Festival, which took place earlier this month.

Martinez, Mufson and Polak were so happy with the outcome that they’ve decided to stage the play again, on Sept. 12 at Palomar College. It’ll be a free show, possibly with a postperformance discussion—something that the ensemble very much wants to incorporate in all Public Moves pieces.

“The hope is that we entertain them for an hour, but we’ve given them something that’s interesting, provocative and mysterious,” Mufson says, “that they’re going to leave and still turn it over in their mind and chew on it.”

Write to alexz@sdcitybeat.com. You can also bug her on Twitter.

Alpenstock Description

Alpenstock Detergent promo rev2Experience the American premier of  Alpenstock  by French playwright Remi de Vos.  This outrageous physical-theatre satire exposes the world of Fritz and Grete, who live an apparently idyllic ultra-conservative life, until Grete buy’s “foreign” detergent at The Cosmopolitan Market. Suddenly an enticing foreigner penetrates and disrupts their predictable world. Contains seduction, slapstick and genocide.

Alpenstock is theatrically delicious, intellectually nutritious and just plain funny. It fillets issues of relevance and urgency, serving them in a spicy sauce of visceral, absurd humor rarely seen in American theatre.

Friday July 5th at 8:00 PM, Saturday July 6th at 9:30, Sunday July 7th at 3:30 PM at New School of Architecture and Design, 1249 F Street in Downtown San Diego.

For tickets and more information http://www.sdfringe.org/shows/artists.php?id=292461 the general website for the San Diego Fringe Festival is http://www.sdfringe.org/.

For directions to the venue http://www.newschoolarch.edu/location.html

 

Alpenstock Fringe Press Release

DSC_4058For Immediate Release
June 6, 2013
Contact Michael Mufson mmufson@cox.net. 760-716-7098

New Local Theatre Company Brings Slapstick, Seduction and Genocide to San Diego Fringe Festival

Public Moves Ensemble Theatre will present the American premiere of “Alpenstock” by French playwright Rémi de Vos and translated by Gwynneth Dowling, as part of the San Diego Fringe Festival on July 5,6 and 7 at the New School of Architecture and Design. “Alpenstock” is a hilarious provocation that boldly challenges us to confront a variety of national obsessions.

Fritz and Grete live an apparently idyllic conservative life . . . until Grete buy’s “foreign” detergent at The Cosmopolitan Market to clean their chalet. Suddenly a suave foreigner penetrates their defenses and disrupts their predictable world. This crisis leads to seduction, slapstick and genocide.

 

The circus of “Alpenstock” re-enacts the phenomena of nationalism, racism, sexism, immigration and violence. Although written in France and set within the context of Europe, ”Alpenstock” transcends its original context and speaks volumes to these phenomena as they exist in our own culture and community.

Marcos Martinez first saw a production of “Alpenstock” while teaching the Suzuki Method of Actor Training in Athens Greece. As he describes, “It was a French play translated into Greek, and even though I didn’t understand a word, the action was hilarious and very clear. I couldn’t wait to see it again the next night.”

DSC_3725Inspired by the Greek production, Martinez commissioned Gwynneth Dowling to translate the play from the original French into English. He shared the translation with director, Michael Mufson. “When I read the script I immediately grasped it’s potential to be an hysterical yet profound provocation to recognize some disturbing truths about our world while laughing our butts off.”  When the first San Diego Fringe Theatre Festival was announced, Martinez and Mufson realized that the Fringe Frestival would provide the perfect context for presenting this innovative, international piece of theatre.

After Mufson and Martinez invited John Polak to play Fritz, they decided to create an umbrella organization to foster new theatre projects that engage communities, subjects, and forms that are ignored by the mainstream, commercially-oriented theatre. All three also share a background and passion for physical theatre.  They set about to conceive a name and mission that would encompass these intentions and arrived at Public Moves Ensemble Theatre with the mission, “To create theatre for the public good.”

DSC_3738“This immediately raised the question of what is the public good,” said Mufson. “Rather than offering some set answer, we are interested in theatre that provokes this question and stimulates discussion of what is in the public good. According to Christina Wenning, who plays Grete and is the newest company member,  “We are convinced that, in our current culture of apathy, partisan antipathy, technological disconnection, and pervasive violence, this is the most important question we can ask.”

Performances are Friday July 5th at 8:00 PM, Saturday July 6th at 9:30, Sunday July 7th at 3:30 PM at New School of Architecture and Design, 1249 F Street in Downtown San Diego.  For tickets and more information http://www.sdfringe.org/shows/artists.php?id=292461 the general website for the San Diego Fringe Festival is http://www.sdfringe.org/. Public Move website is http://www.publicmoves.org

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