GREAT SMALL WORKS: PRODUCTIONS


The Rapture Project
Flier design: Sean-Michael Fleming Photo: Orlando Marra

The Rapture Project is a serio-comic epic spectacle about fundamentalism and American culture and politics. Inspired by rough-and-tumble Sicilian marionettes, current events, popular End Times literature, and day-to-day anxiety, with visual motifs from the Cockettes and 1920’s Christian iconography.

Alternately ridiculous and terrifying, The Rapture Project brings together tabloid newspaper stories, popular literature about Armageddon, and fundamentalist iconography to create an epic spectacle following an unlikely cast of characters from the USA to The Middle East and beyond.

See the Creationist tour of the Grand Canyon and learn the history of the world through Bible-based science.!
Enter the world of Muslim squatter punks in Buffalo where young believers try to redefine Islam for the 21st century.
Marvel as the spirit of Susan Sontag debates the Devil.
Be awed as regular American citizens confront the growing power of fundamentalism over their lives and institutions.
Wonder if The Rapture is upon us!

Inspired by classic Sicilian puppet theater’s Orlando Furioso cycles, which performed the epic clash of Christians and Muslims in the 1800’s, The Rapture Project examines the influence of religion in American culture and politics today.  In an age when so many Americans believe in the imminent arrival of The End Times, what does it mean that these believers have the ear of their highest ranking politicians?

Created and performed by Great Small Works members John Bell, Trudi Cohen, Stephen Kaplin and Jenny Romaine, with performers Shane Baker, Andrea Lomanto and Jessica Lorence, and musician Jessica Lurie.


A Mammal's Notebook: The Erik Satie Cabaret
Poster design: Sean-Michael Fleming

A MAMMAL'S NOTEBOOK: THE ERIK SATIE CABARET recreates the life and work of French modernist composer Erik Satie. Directed by John Bell and featuring pianist Margaret Leng Tan, the production showcases the American premiere of Geneviève de Brabant, Satie’s miniature opera for shadow puppets. The production uses Satie’s drawings and his acerbic, prescient letters and speeches, as well as words others, including John Cage and Jean Cocteau, wrote about him. Great Small Works members perform the variety of avant-garde and everyday characters inhabiting this fin de siecle world. The play is staged with dance (by guest choreographer Clarinda Mac Low), shadow theater, mask performance, film, bunraku, and cabaret acts – a variety spectacle about the meaning of music, art, and theater at the beginning of the last century in a society marked by constant change.

Erik Satie's music spanned an enormous range: he wrote for Chat Noir Cabaret shadow plays, mystical Rosicrucian theatricals, solo piano, popular song, puppet operas, oratorios, and Dada spectacles. One of Satie's most well-crafter works of art was his life, as he consciously reinvented himself. A Mammal's Notebook examines, recreates, and celebrates a crucial period of his life (1893-1914) , when Satie plunged into the social and commercial life of working-class Paris and emerged a confident and determined composer, able to fuse the disparate worlds of the avant-garde and the everday.

John Bell is a foremost expert on popular performance and puppet theater, and he is Professor of Performing Arts at Emerson College in Boston. A protégée of John Cage and a pioneer in the vanguard of American new music, pianist Margaret Leng Tan represents an unbroken trajectory from Erik Satie through Cage to the present. She is well known as a virtuoso of the toy piano as well as for performances that defy the piano's conventional boundaries. The company also includes GSW members Trudi Cohen, Stephen Kaplin, Jenny Romaine, Roberto Rossi, and Mark Sussman, along with Alessandra Nichols, Aya Kanai, and Isaac Bell. Scene design by Mark Sussman and Alessandra Nichols; lighting design by Mark Sussman; costume design by Alessandra Nichols, Jenny Romaine, Trudi Cohen, and Mildred Cohen; puppet design by Stephen Kaplin; film by Meredith Holch; and dramaturgy by Remi Paillard.

Support for the production comes from the Jim Henson Foundation, the Scherman Foundation, the Kornfeld Foundation, the New York Times Foundation, the MAP Fund of the Rockefeller Foundation, the Florence Gould Foundation, the Emerson College Stearns Distinguished Faculty Award, and the NYC Dept. of Cultural Affairs, the New York State Council for the Arts, and the New York Foundation for the Arts.

More images from this production
can be found in our Archives.

The Memoirs of Glückel Hamelin

THE MEMOIRS OF GLÜCKEL OF HAMELN (1999-2000) tells the story of an independent Jewish woman of the 17th Century, bringing her memoir to life in a theatrical form belonging to the streets, markets, and fairgrounds of her day -- Bänkelsang, or picture recitation, with Glückel herself recounting vivid tales of survival to a 21st Century audience. Born in Hamburg in 1646 during the Thirty Years War, Glückel gave birth to twelve children before her widowhood at age 44, at which point she took over the family businesses, and began writing her memoir. Glückel's writings portray an able, courageous, and opinionated woman prevailing in an environment of antisemitism.

The production is a collaboration between director and performer Jenny Romaine, Adrienne Cooper, the foremost interpreted of Yiddish vocal music in America, and composer Frank London, who is music director of The Klezmatics, as well conceiver/composer of Haisdic New Wave and Les Miserables Brass Band. Musical sources vary from German Jewish liturgical modes, Yiddish ballads, and the sound collages of Kurt Schwitters.
GLÜCKEL was been performed to a sold-out run at the LaMama Annex in New York City, and at the Ashkenaz Festival in Toronto, the Yiddishkayt Festival in Los Angeles, at the Jewish Theatre of New England, Newton, Mass., A Traveling Jewish Theater in Berkeley, CA, and at festivals of puppetry and new Yiddish culture in Chicago, Antwerp, Amsterdam, and at Swarthmore College.

More images from this production
can be found in our Archives.


The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare

THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY: A NIGHTMARE (1997-1998) is adapted from G.K. Chesterton's 1908 novel, in which an elite corps of undercover police pose as anarchists to infiltrate the Great Anarchist Conspiracy of Europe. A meditation on political paranoia and present-day obsessions with Law, Order, and Chaos, the play uses masks, projections, music, and choreography to explore the thin blue line - and the mimetic attraction - between criminals and cops.

Adapted, designed, and directed by Mark Sussman, the play is performed by GSW members John Bell, Stephen Kaplin, Jenny Romaine, Roberto Rossi, and guests Roderick Murray, Laura Helton, and Gretchen Till. First presented in installments at the Monthly Spaghetti Dinners in 1996 and '97, the piece premiered at Performance Space 122 in December, 1997. With original music by Jon Nichols, masks by Meredith Holch, choreography by Clarinda Mac Low, and costume and accessory design by Alessandra Nichols, and with additional texts by Jean Genet, Jack Smth, Emma Goldman, Vera Figner, Horst Bienek, and George Orwell.

More images from this production
can be found in our Archives.

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