Ruth Margraff

Ruth Margraff

RUTH MARGRAFF (playwright)'s recent writing includes six martial arts operas written with composer Fred Ho: DEADLY SHE-WOLF...critically acclaimed by the New York Times and others at Ellen Stewart LaMama Theater in New York City May 16-June 2, 2013 and VOICE OF THE DRAGON 1,2,3 for the Apollo Theater and Brooklyn Academy of Music and several national tours. Ruth’s “Night Wind from Afghanistan” for the play...
RUTH MARGRAFF (playwright)'s recent writing includes six martial arts operas written with composer Fred Ho: DEADLY SHE-WOLF...critically acclaimed by the New York Times and others at Ellen Stewart LaMama Theater in New York City May 16-June 2, 2013 and VOICE OF THE DRAGON 1,2,3 for the Apollo Theater and Brooklyn Academy of Music and several national tours. Ruth’s “Night Wind from Afghanistan” for the play SEVEN has toured Sweden, Argentina, Nigeria, India, Turkey, the Balkans, Jordan, Afghanistan, Morocco, Lithuania, France, Belgium and was introduced by Hillary Rodham-Clinton, directed by Julie Taymor featuring Meryl Streep at the Broadway Hudson Theater (New York City). She received a 2014 NEA Artworks award for her PASSION OF LEYLA; and her PREVIOUSLY BLUE collaboration with Dah Teatar (Belgrade, Serbia) and 7 Stages (Atlanta USA) received TCG Global Connections and TMUNY awards. She devised a new musical FANTASY ISLAND LOWCUT DAYDREAM TOO NEAR TOO NEAR in 2016 with director Kate Hendrickson after premiering their ANGER/FLY for Trap Door Theater in 2012 to critical acclaim (Chicago). Ruth's CAFÉ ANTARSIA ENSEMBLE with composer Nikos Brisco has been represented by Innova Records and toured recently to 2014 Laguardia Performing Arts Center (NYC); 2013 Ardittos Metz Festival June 30: Πάρκο Λογγίνου/Longinus Park στο Μετς, July 3 Τετάρτη, πεζόδρομο Θεοτόκη στο Μετς/Pedestrian Mary Bazaar, July 6 στο Πάρκο Αγίας Τριάδας καφενείο "Λαμπηδόνα/Cafe Lambidona at Trinity Park interview with Στέλιος Αρτεμάκης for 24 Media Group (Athens, Greece); 2013 Pivot Multi-Arts Festival Berger Park Mansion, preview by Chicago Splash) (Chicago); 2012 Istanbul Ikametgah Kadikoy Festival/Halka Art Project (TURKEY), 2012 Performing Arts Forum (FRANCE); 2011 Ice Factory Festival (New York City), 2011 World Music Festival/Navy Pier (Chicago),2010 Azerbaijani National Theater/International Mugham Center (AZERBAIJAN), 2009 Bibliotheca Alexandrina International Summer Festival (EGYPT), 2008 Accidental Festival/Institute for Contemporary Arts (UK), 2008 Festivalul International de Teatru de la Sibiu, National Theater Cluj Euphorion Studio (ROMANIA); 2007 Toronto Junction Arts Festival (CANADA); 2007 Festivale des Concerts a l'Anglicane Holy Trinity de Lakefield (Montreal, QUEBEC); 2006 PreGlej Na Glas!/Wax Factory (SLOVENIA); 2005 Brooklyn Academy of Music/BAMcafe’s “Women in Music” Series; 2005 Pøíští Vlna-Next Wave Festival (CZECH REP); 2005 Festivalul International de Teatru de la Sibiu Festival (ROMANIA); 2005 Karantena Performing Arts Festival (Dubrovnik, CROATIA); 2005 Culturemart at Here Arts Center (NYC); 2004 New York Gypsy Festival (NYC); 2003 Novaja Drama Festival/Moscow Art Theatre, Club B2 (RUSSIA); 2003 Rebetiko Music Festival/Melina Mercouri Hall (Isle of Hydra, GREECE); 2002 Bolshoi Zol/Moskva Contemporary American Series (Moscow, Russia); 2002 Perishable Theater Festival (Rhode Island); 2001 BELEF/Beogradski Letnji Festival, Dah Teatar(Belgrade, SERBIA), etc. Ruth’s other writing has been awarded four Rockefeller Foundation commissions, a McKnight National Commission/Residency, a McKnight Advancement Grant and Jerome Fellowship with the Playwrights’ Center, an NEA/TCG national playwriting residency, a Fulbright new opera award to Greece, a TCG Extended Collaboration grant and several ITI travel grants, awards from Arts International and Trust for Mutual Understanding of New York, two NYSCA awards, an Illinois Arts Council Artist Project award and a CultureConnect envoy for the State Department to Calcutta (India). Ruth’s writings are published by Dramatists Play Service, Kendall/Hunt University of Arizona, Watson Guptill/Backstage Books, Performing Arts Journal, American Theatre, Theater Forum, The Drama Review, Playscripts, Inc., New Village Press, Applause Books, Dramatist, NuMuse Anthology/Brown, Chain/Temple, Epoch/Cornell, Conjunctions/Bard, Autonomedia,Skyhorse Publishing/Teatra V!da, NoPassport Press and she is a tenured Chair and Associate Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. www.RuthMargraff.com

Plays

  • FLIGHT: TORN LIKE A ROSE
    FLIGHT: TORN LIKE A ROSE is an Afro-Asian fusion dance performance by Peggy Choy Dance, a New York-based company. The production is inspired by the 12th-century Persian poet Attar’s poem “Conference of the Birds,” an allegorical tale of the world’s birds embarking on a dangerous journey in search of the Wondrous Rose of Love. A few surviving birds make a surprising discovery that completely transforms them....
    FLIGHT: TORN LIKE A ROSE is an Afro-Asian fusion dance performance by Peggy Choy Dance, a New York-based company. The production is inspired by the 12th-century Persian poet Attar’s poem “Conference of the Birds,” an allegorical tale of the world’s birds embarking on a dangerous journey in search of the Wondrous Rose of Love. A few surviving birds make a surprising discovery that completely transforms them. For more information please visit Peggy Choy Dance.

    FLIGHT: torn like a rose, libretto by Ruth Margraff is presented by Peggy Choy Dance in association with Kumble Theater for the Performing Arts, on January 27th and 28th, 2017, in Brooklyn, New York.

    The performance is co-sponsored by Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, and made possible by generous funding from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Graduate School, Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, and Urban Land Interests.

    Produced, directed and choreographed by Peggy Myo-Young Choy

    Scenario by Peggy Myo-Young Choy and Ruth Margraff
    Libretto by Ruth Margraff

    Music by Graham Haynes, in collaboration with Haleh Abghari, with Mathias Kunzli

    Dancer-Collaborators: Ze Motion, Ai Ikeda, Lacouir Yancey, Briana Butler Victoria Vikström
    Costumes by Andrew Jordan with assistance by Asa Thompson
    Video Collage by Andrew Jordan and Grant Worth
    Lighting Design by Chris Hudacs
    Make-up and Hair by Emanuel Garcia

    "The Beauty Of Flight~
    Peggy Choy has done a remarkable job in capturing the essence of the battle that goes on inside of the Human being. In Sufism we call this Jihad’ul ‘Nafs (The Greatest Battle in Self). The ego (nafs) is the greatest enemy to the highest nature of man that many describe as God. This production highlights that battle and exalts the highest principles of Love. Every one of us have a very specific calling and many times we find unique ways to fulfill that calling. There lies no question in my soul that Peggy Choy was called to do this work in sincere servitude to Humanity

    May the fruit from her Tree of Life continue to bloom…
    —G Sheikh Caliph Muab-El
  • THE PASSION OF LEYLA
    On a moonlit night on the Black Sea, two sailors (Joseph and Sergio) work all night on the quarterdeck of a ship, despairing of the Commander's brutality. The Commander’s wife (Leyla) wakens from a recurring nightmare to watch the sailors. Leyla’s sister Fatima warns her not to sleep exposed to the sea.

    The following afternoon, Fatima finds Leyla eating a pomegranate, and reports some gossip...
    On a moonlit night on the Black Sea, two sailors (Joseph and Sergio) work all night on the quarterdeck of a ship, despairing of the Commander's brutality. The Commander’s wife (Leyla) wakens from a recurring nightmare to watch the sailors. Leyla’s sister Fatima warns her not to sleep exposed to the sea.

    The following afternoon, Fatima finds Leyla eating a pomegranate, and reports some gossip that Leyla has been watching the sailors. Leyla calls for Fatima to serve a pomegranate to Joseph. Fatima cuts her hand because he is so handsome.

    As the sun is setting, Leyla calls for Joseph to serve her, leading him deeper into the ship through seven interlocking gardens. She begins to undress, pressing closely to his body. He flees from her, tearing his coat of many colors, and collides with the Commander.

    When confronted, Leyla accuses Joseph of assaulting her. The Commander orders Joseph to be shot. As the rifles are aimed to fire, Sergio cries out for justice. He reveals Joseph’s innocence and mutiny ensues in which Sergio is killed and the Commander is thrown overboard.

    At dawn, Joseph takes the body of his friend on a small boat to shore as the ship burns in the distance. Joseph mourns for Sergio in a Takya bazaar. Time is suspended until Leyla touches Sergio’s body. Through her tears, Joseph recognizes all the mystic longing of her soul and falls in love with her.

    Lamentations break into public gardens full of roses, spice traders and sellers of musk. Joseph and Leyla stroll in the moonlight as he interprets her dreams.

    THE PASSION OF LEYLA is inspired by Ta’ziyeh drama and Sufi poetry especially Jami’s 15th C. Yusef and Zulaikha on the story of Joseph in Egypt seduced by a woman biblically known as Potiphar’s Wife. Set on a timeless Black Sea echoing the 20th C. Battleship Potemkin, rebellion here erupts across east and west, class and era. This is a parable of "second" love, second chances, and a mystical Beloved larger than life.
  • PREVIOUSLY BLUE: a poetic summit on the mystery of disaster, resilience and beauty
    The capstone project of a generation of Serbian/American collaboration that yielded four successful productions and three international tours. PREVIOUSLY BLUE is created by director Dijana Milosevic, designer Nesa Paripovic, performer Maja Mitic-Vujovic from Dah Teatar (Belgrade) performers Del Hamilton and Faye Allen from 7 Stages (Atlanta, USA), writer Ruth Margraff and composer Nikos Brisco of the...
    The capstone project of a generation of Serbian/American collaboration that yielded four successful productions and three international tours. PREVIOUSLY BLUE is created by director Dijana Milosevic, designer Nesa Paripovic, performer Maja Mitic-Vujovic from Dah Teatar (Belgrade) performers Del Hamilton and Faye Allen from 7 Stages (Atlanta, USA), writer Ruth Margraff and composer Nikos Brisco of the independent Café Antarsia Ensemble (Chicago, USA), known for leading innovations in devised theater practice that have trained and influenced artists all over the world. PREVIOUSLY BLUE connects the agility of art and nature directly to work and life, in a search for the integrity that emerges from disaster in the interests of common good. PREVIOUSLY BLUE is devised from unique techniques of choreodirection, speak-singing chance arias, and poetic stirrings of scenic emotion into “songlines” of presence. Patterns of water and skies (that were previously blue) transcend daily distress and distraction.

    Written by Ruth Margraff in collaboration with devised performances of Dah Teatar, Seven Stages and Café Antarsia, touring in 2015:

    Dah Teatar Fri. August 21 and Sat. August 22, 2015 at 8:00pm (Belgrade, Serbia)

    7 Stages Fri. August 28, Sat. August 29, and Sun. August 30, 2015 at 8:00pm (Atlanta, Georgia)

    University of Northern Iowa playwriting workshop September 3, 2015 (Cedar Falls, IA)

    Coe College Marquis Series, Dows Theatre Sat. September 5 & Tues. September 8, 2015 at 7:30pm; (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)

    Links Hall Fri. September 11, Sat. September 12, Sun. September 13, 2015 at 7:00pm (Chicago, Illinois)

    Full performance script and introduction by Ruth Margraff are published in DAH Theatre A Sourcebook by Lexington Books Rowman & Littlefield Lexington Books 978-1-4985-2714-9 • Hardback • May 2016 • 978-1-4985-2715-6 • May 2016 •
  • FANTASY ISLAND FOR DUMMIES aka FAIRE LA DORVEILLE
    An avant musical inspired by an episode of the iconic TV series FANTASY ISLAND about the pleasures and perils of wish fulfillment. Devised in a collaborative exploration with Trap Door Theater actors, this play is written by Ruth Margraff and directed by Kate Hendrickson,with original music composed by Pink Velvet. A 1980 “Fantasy Island” episode about a ventriloquist and her devious dummy inspires a voyage...
    An avant musical inspired by an episode of the iconic TV series FANTASY ISLAND about the pleasures and perils of wish fulfillment. Devised in a collaborative exploration with Trap Door Theater actors, this play is written by Ruth Margraff and directed by Kate Hendrickson,with original music composed by Pink Velvet. A 1980 “Fantasy Island” episode about a ventriloquist and her devious dummy inspires a voyage into suppressed identities, ancient Babylonian sex goddesses and a”perfect wife” struggling with her defiant side.

    Commissioned by Trap Door Theater (Chicago), directed by Kate Hendrickson,
    music by Pink Velvet, devised with Trap Door ensemble cast. World premiere opening Thursday, September 29, 2016 at 8 p.m. running through Saturday, November 5, 2016.
  • ANGER / FLY
    Inspired by an 8-page film scenario written by Eugene Ionesco, ANGER/FLY deconstructs and expands the story of a perfect little town that erupts in a violent riot set off when all the husbands simultaneously find flies in their soup. The piece is a dark absurdist comedy that explores a Tramp as gypsy, communism as cyclical utopian apocalypse, and marriage as manic ritual. Devised from the contrived innocence of...
    Inspired by an 8-page film scenario written by Eugene Ionesco, ANGER/FLY deconstructs and expands the story of a perfect little town that erupts in a violent riot set off when all the husbands simultaneously find flies in their soup. The piece is a dark absurdist comedy that explores a Tramp as gypsy, communism as cyclical utopian apocalypse, and marriage as manic ritual. Devised from the contrived innocence of bubblegum pop, the exaggerated expressionism of silent film, and the rolling cadence of player piano ragtime rhythms.

    Ionesco’s original film scenario, entitled La Colère (Anger) begins with happy townfolk coming out of church one sunny spring morning and ends with the destruction of the world.Throughout the action, a “lady television announcer” calmly broadcasts good news. ANGER/FLY translates this montage into a hysterically visceral live performance event. The multi-layered piece was adapted and devised by playwright Ruth Margraff, with director Kate Hendrickson and the Trap Door Ensemble, through a uniquely collaborative process that delved into cubist points of view, Ionesco’s use of language, his themes of social estrangement and the absurdly farcical tone of his work.
  • THREE GRACES a panoramic Iliad for the protestors of modern Greece and Turkey
    THREE GRACES is a Greek/Ottoman tavern operetta with live underscoring and songs by Cafe Antarsia Ensemble. THREE GRACES is haunted by the defiance of young rebels and protestors in public squares and epic taverns at the end of the Ottoman Empire and right now in Greece, Turkey and all over the world.

    Presented as work-in-progress June 24-28, 2014 by the LAGUARDIA PERFORMING ARTS CENTER Little...
    THREE GRACES is a Greek/Ottoman tavern operetta with live underscoring and songs by Cafe Antarsia Ensemble. THREE GRACES is haunted by the defiance of young rebels and protestors in public squares and epic taverns at the end of the Ottoman Empire and right now in Greece, Turkey and all over the world.

    Presented as work-in-progress June 24-28, 2014 by the LAGUARDIA PERFORMING ARTS CENTER Little Theater (Astoria/NYC) directed by Handan Ozbilgin, video design by Stephen de Castro; set design by Andreea Mincic; lighting by Melody Beal; featuring: Ahsan Ali, John Cosentino, Marisol Demonte, Julio Trinadad. Live music by Café Antarsia Ensemble Asst. Stg Mgr: Cassandra Lynch; Event coordinator: Khan Razzaque

    Developed by the 2013 PIVOT MULTI-ARTS FESTIVAL and VINTAGE THEATER COLLECTIVE (Chicago) June 20-22, 2013 at the Berger Park Mansion on Lake Michigan directed by Kate Hendrickson,
    featuring: Anya Elsbeth Clingman, Chris Popio, Bob Wilson, David Steiger,
    Ruth Margraff, Nikos Brisco, Rami ElAasser and Jason Toth
    Dramaturgy: Tanya Palmer
    Choreography: Lyndsay Roxe Kane
    Stage Manager/Assistant Director: Skye Fort
    Costume design: Irina Kruzhilina & Nevena Todorovic

    First presented by the 2011 ICE FACTORY FESTIVAL/3LD/OHIO THEATER (New York City) July 20-23, 2011 directed by Marcy Arlin,
    featuring: Tony Naumovski,* Mariana Newhard, Newton Pittman, Nadia Sepsenwol and Lucie Pohl with live music by Café Antarsia Ensemble: Nikos Brisco, Ruth Margraff, Ron Riley, Rami El-Aasser;
    Costume Designer & Set Consultant: Irina Kruzhilina;
    Lighting Designer: Christopher Weston
    Projection Designer: James Daher
    Sound Engineer: Tito Ladd
    Stage Manager: Samantha Fremer
    Scenic Construction: Phoenix Lee, Thijs Beuming
    Lead Draper: Aileen Lowe, Drapers and Crafts: Eric Bradley, Elias Charalambidies, Valentina Charalambidies,Talia Elinoff, Jong Kim, Jennifer Ming-Yu Wang
    Production Intern: Eoghan Quinn

    Research supported by a Fulbright lecture/research All Disciplines: New Opera fellowship to Thessaloniki, Athens, Paros and Crete (GREECE). Readings directed by Raphael Parry Dec/Jan 2012 at Centraltrak Gallery/Project X (Dallas); and Act I at Here Arts Center for the Culturemart Winter Festival (NYC). An early draft was translated into Slovenian by the RedEye playwrighting exchange with the Wax Factory/PreGlej Theater of Ljubljana and published by Mentor Magazine, a project of the Republic of Slovenia Public Fund for Cultural Activities (Ljubljana, SLOVENIA). Songs developed through concert performances by the CAFÉ ANTARSIA ENSEMBLE at festivals and venues, and recorded by Innova Records.

    THREE GRACES is inspired by Nikos Kazantzakis' novel FREEDOM OR DEATH on the 1889 Cretan failed rebellion and Kazantzakis’ SPIRITUAL EXERCISES; and haunted at times by the 17th Century epic poem EROTOKRITOS by Vitzentzos Kornaros from the Cretan Renaissance during Crete’s Venetian occupation of the mountains and monasteries surrounding Sfakia, facing the Lybian Sea.
  • THE STATE OF GRISTLE
    First produced by Baca Downtown, the Public Theater/New Works Project, Armory. Published by