Announcing an exciting opportunity to SEE Satie's work performed, including a rare production of Satie's miniature opera for marionettes, "Genevieve de Brabant," and featuring acclaimed pianist Margaret Leng Tan. Be sure to let Satie lovers in the New York area know about this show!!


La Mama Etc. presents:

Great Small Works'
A Mammal's Notebook: the Erik Satie Cabaret
featuring pianist Margaret Leng Tan

December 20-30, 2001
Thursdays-Saturdays 7:30 PM
Sundays 2:30 PM and 7:30 PM

La Mama Annex Theater
74 East 4th Street, New York City, USA
Tickets and information: (212) 475-7710
Group rates available.


"A Mammal's Notebook: The Erik Satie Cabaret" is Great Small Works' new variety spectacle about what it means to make music, art, and theater at the beginning of a new century, in a society marked by constant, destabilizing change. But the show is not about the current new millennium; instead it looks back a hundred years to the life of one of the last century's greatest and most unusual musicians, Erik Satie. A collaboration between New York's Obie Award-winning Great Small Works and internationally acclaimed pianist Margaret Leng Tan, the "diva of the avant-garde," "A Mammal's Notebook" is a montage of attractions featuring Ms. Leng Tan and a changing combination of dance, shadow theater, mask performance, film, bunraku puppetry, and vaudeville performance forms. The project is directed by Great Small Works member John Bell, one of the foremost U.S. experts on popular performance and puppet theater, and a professor of performing arts at Emerson College.

"A Mammal's Notebook: The Erik Satie Cabaret" evokes the spirit of turn-of-the-century French popular performance, that era's fascination with puppet theater, and the fantastic, mercurial life and works of Erik Satie (1866-1925). Satie's music spanned an enormous range: he wrote for Chat Noir Cabaret shadow puppet shows, mystical Rosicrucian theatricals, solo piano, popular song hits, puppet operas, oratorios and Dada spectacles. One of Satie's most well-crafted works of art was his life: he consciously invented himself as one of the first "avant-garde" artists. 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 bring together the disparate worlds of avant-garde art and everyday urban life.

"A Mammal's Notebook" utilizes Satie's acerbic, prescient writings and drawings, as well as words others (including John Cage) wrote about him. Great Small Works members perform the characters inhabiting this turn-of-the-century urban world of new life and new art, combining their skills as puppeteers, singers, monologuists, actors, mask performers and dancers.

The production includes the American premiere of "Genevieve de Brabant," Satie's miniature opera for marionettes. Written for a pantomime destined for the Comedie Parisienne, the manuscript was discovered after Satie's death, behind one of the pianos in his tiny room in Arcueil. Great Small Works sets this rarely-heard operetta with shadow puppets designed by Stephen Kaplin.

In addition, musical selections include the familiar and irresistible ("Gymnopedie" and "Je Te Veux") as well as the unfamiliar and cryptic pieces born of Satie's forays into Rosicrucianism. Alongside music by Satie's contemporary, Aristide Bruant, are eloquent twentieth-century tributes to "le bon Maitre": John Cage's idyllic "In a Landscape" as accompaniment to a preamble through nineteenth century Paris and Toby Twining's "Satie Blues" written for toy piano and piano.

Great Small Works is a New-York based collective of theater artists--John Bell, Trudi Cohen, Stephen Kaplin, Jenny Romaine, Roberto Rossi and Mark Sussman--who draw on folk, avant-garde and popular theater traditions to address contemporary issues. The company creates theater on a variety of scales, from gigantic outdoor parades, circuses and street spectacles, to theater on miniature proscenium stages. Recent Great Small Works productions include The Memoirs of Gluckel of Hameln, directed by Jenny Romaine, the Fifth International Toy Theater Festival at HERE in New York City, Toy Theater of Terror As Usual Episode 10, King George and the Devil for the 2001 Chicago Puppetropolis Festival, The True Story of Charas, and the ongoing Monthly Spaghetti Dinners at P.S. 122. Their collaborators in "A Mammal's Notebook" include choreographer Clarinda MacLow, filmmaker Meredith Holch, and designer/performer Alessandra Nichols.

Margaret Leng Tan is renowned for her performances of American and Asian music that defy the piano's conventional boundaries. The first woman to graduate with a doctorate in music from the Juilliard School, she has created a radically individual style fusing sound, choreography, theater and performance art. Her recordings include The Art of the Toy Piano, Litania: Margaret Leng Tang Plays Somei Satoh; and two definitive albums of John Cage's music:The Perilous Night/Four Walls and Daughters of the Lonesome Isle. She has been named the foremost interpreter of John Cage's music, and is the world's only professional toy piano player. As a Cage student and a pioneer of the avant-garde in her own right, Leng Tan provides fascinating trajectory in "A Mammal's Notebook" from Satie to Cage to contemporary music.

Credits for "A Mammal's Notebook: The Erik Satie Cabaret"
Director: John Bell
Music: Margaret Leng Tan
Peformers: John Bell, Trudi Cohen, Stephen Kaplin, Alessandra Nichols, Jenny Romaine, Roberto Rossi, Mark Sussman and Isaac Bell
Set Design: Mark Sussman and Alessandra Nichols
Lighting Design: Mark Sussman and Boualem ben Gueddach
Costume Design: Alessandra Nichols, Jenny Romaine, Trudi Cohen and Mildred Cohen
Puppet Design: Stephen Kaplin
Movement Director: Clarinda MacLow
Film: Meredith Holch
Projection: Rand Huebsch
Shadow Puppet Text: Burt Porter
Dramaturgical support: Remi Paillard
Technical Director: Dave Overcamp
Stage Manager: Noah Harrell
Music by: Erik Satie, John Cage, Aristide Bruant and Toby Twining
Photos: Orlando Marra
Graphic Design: Sean-Michael for Gotham-USA.com
With generous support from:
Jim Henson Foundation, Scherman Foundation, NYC Dept. of Cultural Affairs, New York State Council on the Arts, Kornfeld Foundation, New York Times Foundation, New York Foundation for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation MAP fund and Florence Gould Foundation.