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Richard Foreman: Ontological-Hysteric Theater, Vol. 1

5 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

  • Richard Foreman: Ontological-Hysteric Theater, Vol. 1
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  • Ontological-Hysteric Theater, Vol. 2: Astronome - A Night at the Opera
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Editorial Reviews

Since the late 1960s, Richard Foreman has been writing, designing and directing some of the most important and innovative theatre experiences in the world. Documenting dozens of productions, and replete with commentary and interviews, this first release in a series of DVDs from the Ontological Archives is an inner view into the mind of one of the world’s greatest and most acclaimed theatrical geniuses. This special edition contains a retrospective of three decades of work, and a document of one of Richard’s earliest plays, complete from beginning to end.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: Italian (Stereo), English (Stereo), French (Stereo)
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Tzadik
  • DVD Release Date: March 10, 2009
  • Run Time: 123 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001NH4CJ4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #154,315 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

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Back around 1983 at the Kitchen in New York, I attended a showing of Ernie Gehr's film of the very early Ontological-Hysteric Theater Richard Foreman production "Sophia=Wisdom Part 3: The Cliffs." The play had been produced in 1972-73 and represents a very early production of Foreman's, back before the work sped up, so this was slow, stately, very formal, funny, and amazing to watch. Theater like Richard's is something almost ineffable. If you don't see it nothing can replace that experience. It was amazing for me, as a theater director myself and a student of avant garde thought, to see this work. It certainly didn't make a lot of sense to me, because my mind was busy trying to interpret what I was seeing rather than just weigh each moment for itself -- and because I doubted I would ever have the opportunity to see it again.

Well, thankfully, I was wrong about the latter. To my surprise and pleasure, Foreman has allowed this DVD to be released. Here you get the full Gehr film in all its 16mm flatness -- if you blow up the images they just blur out. But still here is that very film available to watch over and over. Secondly, you get about 80 minutes of clips from a variety of Foreman productions from the 70s to the current decade, all with a commentary track discussing what was going on in each excerpt. This is totally invaluable. Now people all over the world can see what only certain sophisticated theater goers have been wondering about for ages.

From production photos and the published script, I have always had a special fascination for the 1974 production "Pain(t)" so it has special significance to me to see the brief (four minute or so) excerpt offered here, despite the low video quality in which it is preserved.
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I've directed a few of Richard Foreman's plays, but until this arrived in the mail I hadn't seen a Foreman-directed production of any of his scripts. I sort of imagined what the original productions might have been like based on Foreman's essays, stage directions and production photos, but I also had pretty strong personal reactions to the plays, and so was never really at a loss when staging and designing them. And though I've always suspected that my productions of Foreman's plays would probably not delight him overmuch, I'm confident they've at least been honest manifestations of my personal reactions to his work. I'm also uncharacteristically proud of them and consider them the most successful of my directing projects.

What I love about this DVD is I can finally see what happened when "theory" met "practice" at the Ontological-Hysteric Theater -- what Foreman did with those sometimes baffling scripts, how his dense and elusive ideas translated into concrete staging and design. Obviously, it's no substitute for seeing the work live, but as "theater-on-video" goes it's been a lot of fun for me.
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If you're interested in the avant-garde, this is going to make you happy.
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