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JOCASTA is a 52 minute experimental narrative created by Elise Kermani in collaboration with visual artists, musicians, actors, dancers and filmmakers. It was inspired by Brian Swann and Peter Burian's English translation of Euripides' ancient Greek play "The Phoenician Women" (c. 400 B.C.) JOCASTA was digitally filmed on location at the Great Stone Barn in a Shaker Village in New Lebanon, New York the summer of 2006.

There are many options for presenting the project including multimedia performances, gallery installations and film screenings. For more information contact MiShinnah Productions at info-at-mishinnah-dot-org.


 

THE STORY

In Sophocles' play Oedipus Rex Jocasta hangs herself shortly after finding out that Oedipus is both her husband and son. In Euripides' play The Phoenician Women, Jocasta stays alive a little bit longer to try and reconcile her sons but stabs herself shortly after they kill each other during the war at Thebes. But in Kermani's JOCASTA, Jocasta stays alive after her sons' mutual murders to perform a ritual sacrifice in order to save Thebes, and to satiate Ares' ancient fury of Kadmos' slaying of the dragon. Jocasta chooses the creative act of writing over suicide. Her ritual act re-members that Body is Presence (Plato's 'ousia' and Heidegger's 'Ereignis') and Jocasta reminds us that she (aka Iocasta) is related to Io, the Great Cow goddess of Egypt. The origins of writing are sacred manifestations of ousia/hestia...esti/Being. She reverses the taboo of incest, and reestablishes the holy symbollic image of mother and son. Jocasta's sacrifice was inspired by an ancient Persian ritual of ingesting the holy word in order to cure illness.

JOCASTA might take its genesis from an ancient Greek play, but it displays a contemporary condition of exile and also communicates how ancient wars resonate for modern America. JOCASTA reflects a historical mirror on the tenuous present in which we are living.

On one level, the film is structured as a play within the play. With a voice-over, the actors Marty New (as Jocasta) and Michael Potts (as Oedipus) question their own characters motivations. The playwright, a modern Euripides (also portrayed by Potts), struggles to finish the play. The film shows the playwright in the midst of the creative act of writing and shows him finding an appropriate ending to the play that satisfies his own scholarship. The playwright decides that the traditional version of the Oedipus story must be reversed and that Oedipus, Jocasta and Antigone will be reunited in a dance. Eventually, the proscenium falls and the cast and crew are revealed for who they really are behind the scene: mothers, sisters, sons, friends.

For more information about Jocasta contact MiShinnah Productions at: info-at-mishinnah-dot-org


 

MEDIA SAMPLES

video stills (page with lots of tiny images)

snapshots of the crew during the shoot

composite video stills with sound (QT movie 2.8 MB)

need more info? download the press packet .pdf file


Watch the Trailer


 



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BIOGRAPHIES

 

Elise Kermani - Writer, Director, Producer.

Independent multimedia and sound artist Elise Kermani has completed several original large-scale productions as writer/director, sound designer and collaborator. She has presented her work nationally and internationally at venues such as The Kitchen, P.S. 122, The Roulette, DiverseWorks, The Cleveland Performance Art Festival, Los Angeles Contemporary Arts Exhibitions, Randolph St. Gallery, Texas Gallery, and festivals in Europe including the Turning Sounds in Warsaw, Poland, the Fraunkulterfestival in Regensberg, Germany and the Hor-Fest in Stainach, Austria. From 1996-2001 she was the executive producer of the Electronic Arts Performance Series at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and she has curated and produced several festivals including SonicWorks in Houston, and The dice Project in New York. Kermani has composed many scores for dance including the music for Sacred Spaces and Memory House for choreographer Melli Hoppe and Plum House, Undoing and Repair for choreographer Vicky Shick. In addition to writing scores for dance Kermani has also created several audio designs for visual artist Barbara Kilpatrick including Exuberance and Venus Hum, a DVD installation which was installed at the New Arts Program Exhibition in March, 2006. In the 1990's she could be seen singing with the all women avant pop ensemble TROUSERS, and writing music for riverrun Theater an experimental production company directed by Marty New. Her Book "Sonic Soma" was published in 2009 by Atropos Press.



 

Barbara Kilpatrick - Production Design

Barbara Kilpatrick is a visual artist whose recent work has related to dance and performance, where her sculpture functions as set, costume and installation. Her photographs and sculpture have been presented as solo exhibitions at Dance Theater Workshop, St MarkÝs Church, The Kitchen, and most recently in Northampton, Reading and Kutztown, Pennsylvania, as artist in residence in The New Arts Program. Her work has also been included in group shows in museums and galleries, including the Trisha Brown Dance Company benefit exhibition at the Pace Gallery. Her photographs have been published in The New York Times, Dance Magazine, Village Voice, and Time Out New York. She has worked with a number of choreographers through the New York region, and received, with Vicky Shick, a New York Dance and Performance Award (Bessie) for their body of collaborative work. Their work together has been seen at Dance Theater Workshop, The Brooklyn Museum of Art, The Kitchen, Danspace at St. MarkÝs Church, the 92nd Street Y Harkness Dance Project, P.S. 122, and Movement Research at Judson Church. Her work with sound designer/composer Elise Kermani includes the AVA Project (2002), the Aleph Project (2002), Undoing (2003), Repair (2005) and Venus Hum: an imaginary performance (2006).


 

Melli Hoppe - Choreographer, Antigone

Melli Hoppe is the Artistic Director of Susurrus, an Indianapolis based experimental performance group. Melli has lead Susurrus in numerous site-specific productions, including: Sacred Spaces, which was selected as the top dance performance of 1997 by the Indianapolis Star, and most recently, Waterways, presented on the canal in downtown Indianapolis in October 2005. Melli is currently teaching site-specific theatre and stage movement at Butler University where she directed Shades of Sam (five short plays by Samuel Beckett), Yeat’s The Dreaming of the Bones, which toured Ireland in 2003, Memory House, In the Garden and Unreal City, original site-specific performances, and Caryl Churchill’s A Mouthful of Birds. Most recently, Melli was the choreographer for Butler Theatre’s production of Tamer Tamed, Butler University Lyric Theatre’s production of Company, Dido and Aeneas, and Trouble in Tahiti, Indiana University Theatre’s production of Euripides’ Bacchai, and Indiana Repertory Theatre’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

 



Michael Potts - Oedipus, Polyneikes, Eteokles, Scholar

In 2008, Michael is appeared in Grey Gardens, which opened on Broadway with critical acclaim. He also appeared as Lennon on Broadway. Other theater credits include: Oedipus and Highway Ulysses, The Persians, Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet, The Hostage, Cup of Coffee, Loves Labours Lost, Arms and the Man, Mud River Stone and the Rivals, Overtime, Rent, The American Play (Obie Award), Randy Newmans' FAUST, and St. Joan of the Stockyards. His TV credits include: The recurring role of 'Brother Mouzone' on HBO's The Wire, Queens Supreme, Oz, Law and Order, NYPD Blue, Ken Burn's Thomas Jefferson and The West. His film credits include: Conspiracy Theory, The Peacemaker, Diggers, Stonewall, Hackers, and George: A True Story. He has also starred with Rosemary Harris in the BBC radio play Hotel Cristobal. Michael is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama.


 

 

Marty New - Jocasta, Vocalist

Marty New last appeared as the young Rose Kennedy in the television episodic The Kennedys. On stage she created and acted in the one woman show Wild Nights Burning Desire, and Women In History. Her favorite roles include Rosalind in As You Like It, Juliet in R & J, Isabella in Measure for Measure and The Countess in Lulu She has been working as a professional acting coach for the last fourteen years. She trained and received her MFA in Acting at the Yale School of Drama. She has privately coached actors for theater, film and television, and has also worked as a production coach and a media consultant for businesses. Most recently, she taught advanced acting at the University of San Diego, and previously at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts (CAP 21, Stella Adler and Stonestreet studios). She has directed and adapted Philoctetes and several off-Broadway and college productions, and is in the process of completing two documentaries on Master Teachers of American Theater (the first on her own acting teacher Earle Gister, and the second on Ming Cho Lee, the head of design at the Yale School of Drama). Marty also dramaturgs for productions, most recently for the Pilobolus Dance Company's Star Cross'd.


 

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Kevin James - Messenger/Music Coordinator

Composer Kevin James' has received awards and grants from the American Composer's Forum, Jerome Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, and many others. His piece Horobi No Naka Kara was commissioned by the Young People's Chorus of NYC for their performance at the World Choral Music Symposium in Kyoto Japan last summer. Mr. James was awarded the Meet The Composer/New Residencies Program in 1999 which included the commission of Portraits, a 95-minute multimedia "opera-lingua" on the theme of homelessness. He continues his work with this community through the creation of the Portraits Project Mentorship Program, where children living in homeless shelters and highly underserved communities are given the opportunity on an ongoing basis to learn instruments from top New York musicians. Mr. James' music has been performed by the Sirius String Quartet, Meridian Arts Ensemble, Quintet of the Americas, Trio Akkobasso, First Avenue, Glen Velez and Handance and many other acclaimed ensembles throughout the U.S. and Europe. For JOCASTA, James is joined by fellow trombonists Chris McIntyre, Mike Selzer, and Steve Swell.

 



 

Vicky Shick - Chorus Leader, Guest Dancer

Vicky Shick has been involved in the NYC dance community since the late 70's as a performer, choreographer and teacher. She was a member of the Trisha Brown Company for six years and has also danced with many other NY based choreographers including Wendy Perron, Stephen Petronio, Susan Rethorst, Sara Rudner and Sally Silvers. For more than a decade she has collaborated with visual artist, Barbara Kilpatrick and for the past five years their work has become a three-way collaboration with performer/composer, Elise Kermani. She has received a "Bessie" Award for performance and another one for sustained creative achievement with Barbara Kilpatrick. In New York she teaches for the Trisha Brown Company, Movement Research and Hunter College. Vicky is a 2006 grant recipient from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts and a 2008 recipient from the Guggenhiem Foundation.



Alan McIntyre Smith - Director of Photography

Alan McIntyre Smith is a New York based cinematographer who worked his way up through production and gaffing on more than fifty feature films, shot throughout America, South Africa and India. He teaches Cinematography in the Film Conservatory at Purchase College, State University of New York and also works as a freelance photographer, showing work in galleries in Newport, Asbury Park, and New York. He approaches shooting from a background in painting, inspired by the lighting of Caravaggio, Vermeer, and David. He is most interested in the collaborative nature of filmmaking and enjoys the challenges each project brings.



 

Jay Stern - Post Production Supervisor

Jay Stern has directed and produced more than 20 theater productions, from classical theater to world premieres, and more than 30 short films. Stern's short films have screened across the U.S. and Canada and have won awards at the Montreal Film Festival and the National Educational Media Network. He is a founder and producer of the First Sundays Short Comedy Film Festival, which has screened monthly since April, 2002 (www.firstsundays.com). Stern also is a founding member of Quicksilver Radio Theater Company, whose award-winning radio dramas have been syndicated internationally. Stern is a Ph.D. candidate at the European Graduate School where he has studied with Jacques Derrida, Peter Greenaway, Claude Lanzmann, Volker Schl÷ndorff, Agnes Varda, John Waters, Krzysztof Zanussi, and Siegfried Zielinski. He completed his first feature, The Changeling, in 2006.



Julie Verardi - Motion Graphics and Design

Judith B. Bass, Esq. - Production Attorney

Matt Bleistein - Production Assistist

Natasha Kermani - Production Assistant

Anya Jaremko - Production Assistant

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Jack the Horse - "Tutor"

Jack is a Morgan Percheron cross - a horse of sturdy build and kindly temperament, with a sable brown coat, a striking white blaze, and long, flowing black mane and tail. His build is reminiscent of the war horse of the middle ages, but he is somewhat shorter, making him easy to ride and to transport. He has been trained in dressage, which is a discipline of riding to supple, strengthen and develop a horse, which has been in practice for over 2000 years. Jack attended Police Horse Obstacle training in the early nineties, proving his equanimity when faced with pop-up targets, firecrackers, smoke bombs, roman candles, and a host of urban obstacles that might frighten the average horse. He has since been in numerous parades and public appearances, and has been the subject of various articles and photo opportunities. His latest accomplishment was an appearance in the 2006 TV series Ten Days that Unexpectedly Changed America a ten part series featured on The History Channel. Jack appears in episode eight The Homestead Strike , produced and directed by Rory Kennedy, where he re-enacts the famous ride that warned the strikers of approaching forces.

 


 

 

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BACKGROUND ON THE LOCATION

The Shaker Museum and Library of Chatham, NY, current owners of the Great Stone Barn, granted permission to film JOCASTA from June through August of 2006. The project was completed in a post production studio with digital editing, audio and visual effects. JOCASTA's presentations will be an international circuit of film and video festival screenings, art television and gallery installations.

The Great Stone Barn is the largest storage dairy barn in America, and is a significant reminder of the Shakers' agricultural prowess. It was designed and built in 1859 by the Shaker Brothers, measures 196 x 50 feet, and towers over four stories high. In 1972, the Great Stone Barn burned, destroying all the timber framed structure, roof and windows. Today the structure is a ruin, with only its masonry shell and a minimum of historic fabric in poor condition. Exposure to the weather has deteriorated the stonework. There are plans to renovate the barn with scaffolding to secure the walls.

The filming of JOCASTA took place at the barn before its reconstruction - its decaying condition an apt reminder of the great cultural institutions which have been destroyed and abandoned by war.

Read the interview with Elise Kermani by Gina Myers in the College Hill Review to learn more about the genesis of the film.


DIRECTORS STATEMENT: This film was inspired by the architectural beauty of the Great Stone Barn which was built by the Shakers in the mid-1800s but destroyed by fire in 1970s. When I first drove by the location in 1998 with my husband (executive producer, Sirus Kermani), we felt that the location, which is located in Columbia County in upstate New York, was well suited for a large scale theatrical performance. In 2006, the Shaker Museum was starting reconstruction on the barn, so we had no choice but to make the film that summer! So we did. We got a loan, hired the actors and the technical crew and within a few months we started filming. I had just finished reading The Phoenician Women (written c.410 B.C. by Euripides,translated by Brian Swann and Peter Burian) and knew that this was the perfect location for a modern twist of the Greek tragedy. JOCASTA is magical and charmed not only by the layered narratives of the mythical Oedipus and Jocasta, but also by the real life relationships of the actors, my friends and family, and all the people who have participated in the various stages of the project. I dedicate this film to my father who was an architect of churches and theaters and who taught me his passion for music and art.




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IN GRATITUTUDE

Thank you to the Shaker Museum and Library, Wolfgang Schirmacher, Helene Cixous, Avital Ronell, Mary Hogancamp, John Tintori, Charles Bardes, Marta Jaremko, Dan Schaaf, Norbert and Mary Schaaf, Kevin Cunningham, Elaine Kaplinsky and Charles Kallassy.


MAKE A DONATION

Tax deductible donations for Jocasta (and future productions) can be sent to our non-profit producer: MiShinnah Productions. Please contact Artistic Director Elise Kermani at elise@mishinnah.org for more details or click on the donate button below.



JOCASTA EVENTS

May 8, 2012, 4pm. JOCASTA screens in Athens, Greece at the AGON Film Festival (9th International meeting of the Archeology of the Mediterranean). Elise's blog and festival web site.

February 26, 2010, 6pm. JOCASTA screens in Los Angeles at the Culver Plaza Theater Screen #3, located at 9919 Washington Blvd at Hughes, Culver City, Los Angeles (across the street from Sony Studios). Seats 154. PARKING: Conveniently located free parking in parking lot right behind/under the Culver Plaza Theatre with validation (movie/festival ticket is your validation). Street parking in off (nights and Sundays) hours fairly easy. Download the press release (pdf)

October 24, 2009, 11am. JOCASTA screens at the FilmColumbia Festival, at the Morris Venue, Chatham, NY. Q&A to follow with director and crew members.

June 28, 2009, 2pm. JOCASTA screens at the same location where it was filmed! Celebrate arts and culture on the beautiful Shaker Museum grounds in New Lebanon, NY. Download the post card

June 26, 2009, 4pm. As part of the ReelHeART Film Festival (RHIFF) at Innes College - 2 Sussex Ave, Toronto, Canada. Download the Press Release

May 1, 2009. JOCASTA is now streaming online at ArtFem TV

March, 21, 2009, 10 pm Bring in the Persian New Year with the next NYC screening of JOCASTA at the Village East Cinemas, (12th Street and 2nd Ave. NYC, http://www.villageeastcinema.com)

January 10, 2009 JOCASTA screens on 4 walls with 5.1 surround sound at Monkey Town in Brooklyn (http://www.monkeytownhq.com/1_10_09.html). With live score by Tom Chiu (violin), Kevin James (trombone) and Daniel Goode (clarinet).

September 24, 2008 New York City, Premiere Screening at the Anthology Film Archives/NewFilmmakers, 9:30pm, Performance prior to screening: www.newfilmmakers.com


June 6, 2008 Apex Art Gallery, New York City. A preview of JOCASTA: video installation

May 5-June 5, 2008 JOCASTA at "Independent Features Film Festival"

April 12, 2008 Augusta, Georgia. "First Take Film Festival", JOCASTA preview.

Marty New, Elise Kermani and Michael Potts at the New York Int'l Independent Film and Video Festival. JOCASTA won the "Best Experimental Theater Film" award. Photo by David Zukerman.



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BUY JOCASTA

at amazon.com

JOCASTA is distributed by ITN. For US and international broadcast licenses please contact: Stuart Alson at stuart@itndistribution.com.

Kermani - a Filmmaker to Watch at the Indie Film Quarterly