‘Fat Skirt, Big Nozzle’ at Antioch
- Published: June 2, 2016
Friends and colleagues for 40 years, Louise Smith and Ellen Maddow know something about female friendship. And the two women, who have spent their lives immersed in theater, also know quite a bit about how to put on a show.
So Smith and Maddow are putting on a show about friendship for the Yellow Springs community. Specifically, they will perform their original collaborative performance piece, “Fat Skirt, Big Nozzle,” Friday and Saturday, June 3 and 4, at 7:30 p.m. at the Foundry Theater.
Because the space is limited, interested persons should make reservations at 937-474-8425. The performances will be free.
Inspired by the work of surrealist painter James Ensor, the piece “is a comic duet between two women who may be old friends or arch rivals or both,” according to a press release. “They sing, dance and try to snooker fate with a game of cards. Their lives are entwined like a tangle of snakes — are they really Edna and Roberta, the characters from a book they are reading? Or the wild-faced figures from a painting that haunts each other’s lives?”
“We want people to come and enjoy it and have a little party with us,” Smith said in a recent interview.
The 40-minute piece includes puppets, original music by Maddow and original masks by Smith. It’s directed by Paul Zimet of the Talking Band and choreographed by John Fleming.
Both graduates of Antioch College in the 1970s, the two women have known each other, and been involved in each other’s creative endeavors, for decades.
Smith was an actor in New York City for 16 years before coming to Yellow Springs to teach in the Antioch College theater department. A solo performer and playwright, she has created 14 performance pieces, has worked with theater icons such as Ping Chong and Julie Taymor, and received an Obie, a Bessie, two Ohio Arts Council individual artist grants and several other awards. She also practices psychotherapy part-time and is currently associate professor of performance at Antioch College.
Maddow is a co-founder of the Talking Band, a Soho-based cornerstone of avant garde theater in New York City since 1974. The company has been referred to by New York Times theater critic Ben Brantley as “one of the boldest and most venerable politically minded companies in New York.” An actor and playwright, Maddow has received a host of awards, including a McKnight Playwriting Fellowship.
“Fat Skirt, Big Nozzle” grew out of Smith’s and Maddow’s desire to create a collaborative piece together, Smith said. The women began setting aside two hours a week to create scenes inspired by a painting by Ensor, whose retrospective Smith had seen at the Museum of Modern Art. They created scenes that they sent back and forth, developing characters in a freeform, associative way.
“There’s so much literalness and point-making that we have to do all the time. We were interested in something different, creating a space for imaginative and dreamlike” influences, she said.
Both Smith, who usually creates solo pieces, and Maddow, who works with a theater company, were trying something new.
“We were both stepping out of our comfort zones,” Smith said.