Original Theater: Mussmann/Bruce Productions
"...Linda's theater is examining the world around us, in very simple physical terms... it's very simple, very abstract, very strong. The secret of any creative process is that search, that sense of discovery, that excitement." – Merce Cunningham
Since its inception in 1973, TSL has broken through the boundaries of conventional theater, by transcending the confines of narrative and by integrating dance, visual art, light design, language, and sound. Multiple reviews have praised Linda's directorial work and visionaries such as musician John Cage, choreographer Merce Cunningham, and Ellen Stewart, founder of LaMama E.T.C., also have heralded TSL's work.
Using her extraordinary ear for language, Linda Mussmann has become adept at writing for the voices of individual performers and, specifically, for Claudia Bruce who continues to be the central character in all the work. Mussmann's texts, produced by TSL, have been performed in traditional and alternative spaces in NYC such as LaMama E.T.C., PS 122, Merce Cunningham Studio, Marymount College Theater, Museum of Modern Art, Cooper Hewitt Museum, Philip Morris Sculptural Court, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and A.I.R. Gallery as well as spaces in Canada, Denmark, and the US.
Frame Upon Frame- Chapter 1: God's Woods
A Mussmann / Bruce Production
in collaboration with Gerald von Stoddard and John Musall
Written by Linda Mussmann and assisted by Kenji Suzuki. The production features the return of Gerald von Stoddard to work with Claudia and Linda. From 2001 to 2006, Gerald worked at TSL and participated in performances both at TSL and in NYC. Gerald's musical skills are dynamic, especially joined with Claudia's voice and John Musall's accompaniment. Linda's work is not linear. It is outside the realm of "plays" yet it is about "play" in the best sense of the word. It carries the spirit of John Cage and Merce Cunningham's "chance" as key to development. Above all, this work is about what Linda thinks about. Her thoughts travel to China, to God's Woods, to chance meetings with Proust, T.S. Elliott, Robert Frost, General Grant, and more. She dreams of going to Red Square and visiting the Three Sisters or listening to an opera by Stalin or revisiting Adam and Eve as they exchange ribs. Included in the production are clips of past work from the 1980s including some cool moves that show Claudia dancing with paper and light bulbs and more. Join us on this journey and be a part of the theater here at TSL. Welcome and then some.
A Mussmann/ Bruce Production
in collaboration with Ryder Cooley
"When I was a little girl there was a game called 'Cowboys and Indians.'The girls were mostly left out of the picture. The cowboys' manifest destiny rode roughshod and the cowboy became lord of the range.
Our cowgirls, Ryder and Claudia, take on the songs of the wild west that were created to promote the cowboy culture. The duo pick up their ukeleles and rework tunes, old and new - rocking in the saddle on their buckskin cayous and dreaming of the cattle in their chaps and their straps.
As they ride under the western sky, I will create an imaginary world with story-telling, overhead projections, rolling scenery, and silhouette imagery. Join us on the range for a melodic evening with the cowgirls in charge of a dandy cai yai yippi yai yea journey. I will be assisted by ranch hand, Maria Boxill. The show takes place in the big theater where the big screen usually lives. The tents will be pitched and the cowgirls will be coming home from the rodeo." - Linda Mussmann.
Tickets are $10 or you can wrangle.
This Tuesday, we will perform our student/intern project based on a re-write of King Lear act 1 called QUEEN LEARY by Linda Mussmann. It is our Bennington Interns' (Ana-Miren San Millan & Madeleine Owen-Dunow) chance to workshop a production at the TSL Theater. Rounding out the cast, we have Mary Ketz (a home school student) and Maria Boxill (TSL Young People's Outreach Project). Claudia Bruce creates the sound for this experimental and outrageous treatment of dear old BILL S. Join us. We would love to have you see this work.
A Mussmann/Bruce Production written by Linda Mussmann with songs by Claudia Bruce and Ryder Cooley - and with added vocals by Maria Boxill and video from the archives of the 1980's super 8 movies. After the show, you are invited to celebrate Claudia's 66th birthday. There will be cake! "Haywire" is a meditation on hay + wire (from the early 20th century when hay-baling wire was used often in makeshift repairs.)
Mussmann/Bruce Production: Words and Music
Linda Mussmann and Claudia Bruce will be making "Words & Music," a new piece based on texts by Linda and songs written by Claudia over the past 20 years or so. Some texts are based on work from the 6-part series performed during the 1980s called the Civil War Chronicles including "Cross Way Cross" and "If Kansas Goes."
There will be selections from "Blind in Time," a 2001 performance which was performed at the LaMama Annex in NYC. Other texts are from earlier pieces like "Room/Raum," the first text Linda wrote that was reviewed by Anna Kisselgoff. It was performed in the TSL storefront on 22nd Street in NYC - a place where people like Merce Cunningham and John Cage attended performances over the years.
Linda & Claudia will also include selections from "Is the Dialogue Read" (originally performed at NYC storefront in the 1980s); "Avoidance & Peculiar"(performed at the Whitman studio on West 19th Street, now known as The Kitchen); "Fast Food," a piece written and performed in Hudson; as well as texts and songs from recent work.
There will be video and some 8mm movies to give you an idea of the early works by Linda and Claudia. And there is always the possibility for some surprises. Linda is working on something new every day.
This performance takes place in the east gallery of the TSL space. There will be some conversation and discussion following. Performances are June 16, 17, 18 at 7:30pm. Admission is $10.
Mussmann/Bruce Production: KOWTOW/China See
A Mussmann/Bruce Production: CHINA SEE in collaboration with Suzanne Helms
During the 1980s and 90s, TSL worked with dancer and performance artist Suzanne Helms in NYC and in Hudson. (Some of you might remember "Let 'em Eat Biscuits"or the first "Mao Wow.") A long-distance conversation has been going on ever since, even as Suzanne has moved between Germany and Mallorca where she lives with her partner and daughter. During all these years, the performances have continued for each of us and now Suzanne will visit TSL and, together, we will construct a new piece called "KOWTOW/China See" There is no telling what the performance will be, but there is no doubt that it will be a memorable reunion.
The Red Container
The Red Container written and directed by Linda Mussman in collaboration with Claudia Bruce. A special theater performance featuring TSL Intern and Bennington College Student, Taylor Morrison. The Red Container discusses a diverse range of topics including China, Walmart, Mao, Mao's Wife, and the geopolitical globe then and now.
Making Macbeth Work
Director Linda Mussmann organized a group of young people, ages 17 - 22, who expressed an interest in exploring Shakespeare's Macbeth, from a non-conventional point of view. Linda constructed and deconstructed the text and re hearsed scenes as participants came and went throughout the summer. The process concludes with a performance by two actresses, Amanda Roberts and Nellie Rustick. Claudia Bruce and Ryder Cooley add musical support.
War & Peace - thoughts and notes
A Mussmann/Bruce Production
With Special Guest Ryder Cooley
This innovative and thought provoking new play is set up in the east gallery space at TSL. Claudia Bruce and Ryder Cooley are the actors, "readers," and musicians (playing accordion, piano, guitar, ukulele, drums, and bugles) who guide the audience. Mussmann wrote the piece and directs it in the spirit of Emerson, letting her passion for history, literature, theater, fact, and fiction spin in front of the audience. Her inspiration comes from Vasily Grossman's Life and Fate and Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace.
This production features the TSL Theater Company, under the direction of Linda Mussmann and Claudia Bruce, in a performance piece constructed during an intensive two-week workshop period specifically for the young people of this community. The group includes nine young people ranging in age from 11 to 17 - some of whom have grown up at TSL under the guidance of Maija Reed, TSL Youth Program Director and Coordinator.
The project has been designed to engage young artists in a complex and playful performance work that reflects the theatrical vision that TSL founders Mussmann and Bruce have developed over their past 33 years of collaboration. At its heart is an "avant garde" approach to theater which challenges children and young adults to explore their creative genius and encourages them to participate in work that focuses on physical and vocal training, following direction, spontaneity, ensemble cooperation, and developing a sense of time and space.
NINE+3 is about journeys - maybe Henry Hudson's discovery of the river or about going to China to buy a doll or, simply, about figuring out how to go from here to there. The cast includes 8 performers - Jenifer Rosete, Cecille Ruiz, Damaris Shakespeare, Ashley Price, Sharece Johnson, Amanda Roberts, Jaber Miah, and Jahed Miah; 2 musicians - Oswaldo Rosete and Maija Reed; 1 musican/director - Claudia Bruce; and 1 writer/director - Linda Mussmann. Special assistants to the directors include interns Cassie Sachs-Michaels and Amanda Roberts.
Her Story: Act 2
Linda and Claudia organize and lead Chapter 2 of Her Story, a Mussmann/Bruce Production using the voices of women - past and present - to witness the struggle that women have undertaken to win respect and equality. The text intertwines poetic musings and the music of Stephen Iachetta. The cast includes Berta Leone, Ashley Price, Claudia and other guests. With visual portraits by Zak Kirwin.
HER STORY: The Majority Reports
Her Story is both historical and hilarious, a chaotic landscape of voices blended into a collage of different mediums and performed live by Claudia Bruce, with a set designed by Linda Mussmann, images painted by Zak Kirwin, video images by Dolly Madison, and live music by violinist Stephen Iachetta. Through the melding of these different mediums, a picture of women's progress in the past, present, and future emerges. Her Story explores how women have arrived where they are today, and where they are going in the future. A panoramic journey reported to you by the majority, Her Story is both broad and intimate, entertaining and thought provoking.
EVACUATE! Week 2
Week 2 of LMCB performance:
Claudia sings some of her favorite tunes and Linda talks about how TSL came to be and plan for the road show.
"How I learned to stop worrying about the small stuff and moved on to major catastrophes"
Written and directed by Linda Mussmann in collaboration with Claudia Bruce.
The multimedia productions of Linda Mussmann often seem to occur in theatrical worlds all their own. Yet they are not totally sealed off from reality. "EVACUATE!" is a meditation on the present and future where things have been pushed beyond reason - where cheap toys, cheap labor, and cheap donuts co-exist with extreme climate, extreme news, and extreme shopping.
With no preparations for the catastrophes that are predicted, the main protagonist, Clover, looks for a plan to move from here to there. Armed with a small boat on bicycle wheels, a sail made of sheets, and her movie projector, Clover and her Aide de Camp, Percival, are heading south and looking at the moon as a place to get away from it all. Sound familiar?
Here's the deal. She could buy one or she could buy two. If she bought two, she would get one free. But - she didn' t want a bargain. She wanted the real deal.
everywoman: every now & then
In the final piece of every woman: everynow & then (which has been presented over the past two months as a work-in-progress), writer and director Linda Mussmann looks at ideas for the 21st century – which point to the fact that women are leading the way toward local and global solutions. The text raises questions about our world by following a quirky journey with SHE – what SHE is doing while SHE eats donuts at the donut shop and what SHE is thinking while SHE hangs text on the line and waits for it to dry.
Centered on the elusive Jiang Qing, former actress and third wife of Chairman Mao Tse Tung, Mao Wow! explores the iconography of American conceptions of China and communism ? from Mao?s little red book to General Tzo?s chicken, posing the question: What does revolution look like? The setting is Madame Mao?s cell where she performs scenes from plays ranging from Hedda Gabler to Hamlet and orates on subjects from Hegel?s master-slave theory to the refreshing taste of Coca-Cola. A fast-paced, boundary-blurring romp written by Linda Mussmann, featuring Claudia Bruce, Hannah Jarrell, Sarah Davis, and others with sets by Jun Maeda.
Back to Kansas
Yes, she thought, as she saw what was before her
Yes, she thought
This is how I see
This is how I see IT
and not how IT sees me
Yes, this is how I see IT
and not how IT sees me
In 1987, TSL produced "If Kansas Goes," the first in a 6-part series called "The Civil War Chronicles." Now Mussmann and Bruce take another look at that text and adapt it to another group of performers including Chloe Monahan and Hannah Jarrell (last seen as Alice and the White Rabbit in TSL's A.L.I.C.E.). Chloe wanted to know if she would play Dorothy and would the house be on stage and would there be a storm and would she be spinning out of control. Chloe wanted to know more about Kansas. She was interested in finding out the truth in fiction. Was Kansas a red state or a blue state? Was Kansas in turmoil? Was Kansas about corn or chaos? And what about Toto? Was Toto in the show? And what about Aunt Em? And who cares anyway? any more? any less?
Now & Then: An Evening with Claudia Bruce & Linda Mussmann
Linda and Claudia talk and sing about their lives and the ideas they have shared and how this becomes theater and how theater is life. And how "time passes" has played as a theme through their work for the past 30 years.
During the evening, Claudia (the voice of TSL) will sing songs from her stock repertory including a few tunes written by Jacques Brel whose romantic lyricism is bitter and ironic and is a perfect fit for Claudia's sardonic style. Over the years, she has been rewarded with fans who love to hear her sing and this evening offers a rare opportunity for everyone.
In addition to the songs, Linda will talk about and read from some of her early writing, sampling texts that she and Claudia have worked on together including Room/Raum, the Civil War Chronicles, Avoidance & Peculiar, Is The Dialogue Read, and M.A.C.B.E.T.H.
The Mussmann/Bruce Theater Productions are made possible, in part, with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency.