swimming to spalding
written and performed by lián amaris
directed by richard schechner
Named CRITIC'S PICK by Andy Propst from BACKSTAGE.COM, Swimming to Spalding is "a riveting piece of theater" with "some of the most powerful indictments of contemporary warfare that have been on stage in recent memory."
"Under Richard Schechner's direction, the performer brings these [characters] to life ably. With the support of Lucian Ban's continually impressive soundscape and Melissa Mizell's gently atmospheric lighting design, Amaris delivers a terrific companion piece to Gray's original."
As reviewed by Jason Zinoman from The New York Times, Amaris is "an appealing performer who sets out to retrace the steps of 'Swimming to Cambodia'... She ably dramatizes herself and comments on the human effects of war."
"The tricky part of paying homage to Gray is that since he fixated on himself with an intense commitment, the idea of making a show that's not all about him but employs his style seems almost a paradox. Ms. Amaris solves this problem by smartly using Gray as a starting point."
"Carrying herself with beaming enthusiasm and a mischievous sense of humor, she has a flirtatious manner... and more of an interest than her model in the world outside the performer's head."
Molly Marinik for theatreiseasy.com states that Amaris "and director Richard Schnechner (a frequent collaborator with Gray) take the audience on the journey with illustrative descriptions that are both magnetic in the moment and nearly transport the audience to Thailand themselves. Amaris speaks directly to the audience and invites them in; her offer is enticing and hard to resist since she is incredibly intriguing to watch... Amaris pays tribute to Gray and proves her own performance abilities at the same time. She's a killer storyteller; it's a treat to hear her tale."
PERFORMANCE SCHOLARS AND HISTORIANS SAY:
"Swimming to Spalding is at once a memorial to the power of Spalding Gray's work, an elegy for his loss, and an engaging testimony to the ways his voice haunts our imagination, and our lives, today."
W. B. Worthen, Barnard College, Columbia University
"This combination of Lian Amaris, writer and performer, and Richard Schechner, director, provides a rich evening in the theatre. Swimming to Spalding is a young woman's journey in search of self and connection. I grinned ruefully as she plunges headlong and heedless into her first adventure. Was I ever that willfull and foolish? Of course, I was now that I think about it. Ms. Amaris is an attractive and generous performer. We share in her discoveries as they reveal themselves in unexpected ways, in unexpected places. I feel privileged to have been invited to join her along the way."
J. Michael Miller, The Actors Center
"Lian is a riveting presence, and her text is compelling like Spalding's. Although cast in Spalding's mold, the work is as striking for the differences as the similarities. Lian shares Spalding's detached pessimism, but Swimming to Spalding creates the impression, for me at least, that her experience is far worse and that her generation has been even more insidiously infected by the wars of her time than Spalding was by the wars of his."
William S. Niederkorn of The New York Times
"Swimming to Spalding is about a young woman's voyage, while searching to glimpse the ghost of Spalding Gray, to the other side of the planet and to the bottom rungs of her own psyche."
Martha Wilson, Franklin Furnace
"Spalding Gray is best remembered as a storyteller but Lian Amaris observes a
cardinal rule of theater: rather than spelling out his impact on younger generations
of performers, she shows us. Neither history lecture nor nostalgia piece, Swimming
to Spalding pays tribute to Gray's themes and styles with an unflinchingly
contemporary story. It's a startling, powerful production.
"Spalding Gray fans will find rich rewards in the material, but the play doesn't
require audiences to know the frame of reference in order to get the material.
Swimming to Spalding invokes work that's rooted in a really particular time and a
place while also welcoming audiences who aren't familiar with it. That's really
difficult to to do, so seeing it done with such success is awesome.
"Amaris reveals her own biography skillfully, which is to say, when doing so advances the plots of the people whose stories she tells so well. What we know about her comes less from the details she shares of her life than from her confident, articulate presence as a performer, and from the vibrancy with which she describes the people and places she's encountered."
Li Cornfeld of Offoffonline.com
Performance artist Lian Amaris on revisiting Spalding Gray's turf in Richard Schechner's production of "Swimming to Spalding"; Hosted by Janet Coleman and David Dozer. [PLAY SHOW]
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