Phantom Limb

Friday, September 23, 2011

Inspired by Sir Ernest Shackleton's harrowing expedition to Antarctica in 1914, Phantom Limb unites puppetry, dance, film, history, and photography with contemporary music to create a stunning vision of the great arctic continent—past, present, and future. Dim light plays across a lunar terrain dotted with icebergs. Shackleton’s crew, played by half-life-size puppets, struggles to survive in this vast landscape, putting into stark relief the power of endurance and camaraderie and the price of knowledge. With sound that combines the junkyard dog aesthetic of the band Skeleton Key playing live, a score recorded by the Kronos Quartet, and glacial field recordings, 69˚S. mines the inherently bittersweet and complex nature of the Shackleton experience and what the future may hold for this fragile environment.

Following a two-week residency at EMPAC with the entire cast and crew, these performances are the final workshop showings before the piece officially premieres at Dartmouth College.

A look inside the creative process in the making of 69°S.

Conception, writing + design: Phantom Limb
Conceived in collaboration with David Harrington/Kronos Quartet
Director: Tony Taccone
Composer: Erik Sanko
Recorded performance: Kronos Quartet
Live performance: Skeleton Key
Choreography: Christopher Williams
Production: ArKtype / Thomas Kriegsmann in association with Beth Morrison Projects

Hélène Lesterlin

The New York City-based Phantom Limb Company, founded by composer and marionette maker Erik Sanko and visual artist Jessica Grindstaff, is critically acclaimed for its reinvention of traditional theatrical forms, incorporating marionette puppetry, music, and large-scale installation in order to probe issues of contemporary life. Since the success of their first marionette play The Fortune Teller in 2006, Sanko and Grindstaff have collaborated on numerous original theatrical works with such diverse artists as Ping Chong & Company, Ulrike Quade, Geoff Sobelle of Pig Iron and rainpan 43, and Mark Z. Danielewski.

Jessica Grindstaff is a multimedia artist. Known for her tiny Victorian taxidermied shadowboxes, wax and chalk paintings, she has most recently taken her micro-universe macro through the medium of installation and set design.

Erik Sanko is a lifelong musician, and has played with The Lounge Lizards, John Cale, Yoko Ono, They Might Be Giants and his own band, Skeleton Key. Erik also has always made puppets, first for his own amusement, then for art collectors, and now for theatrical productions.

Running time: 70 minutes
September 23, 2011, 8PM
September 24, 2011, 8PM
Return to Quote Unquote

69°S. is an ArKtype project produced in association with Beth Morrison projects in co-production with Grand Theatre Groningen/Noorderzon Performing Arts Festival en Noord Nederlands Toneem, and co-commissioned by Hopkins Center, Dartmouth College; Arts Centre of Melbourne, Australia and Victoria College of the Arts; and EMPAC / Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Additional residency development provided by MASS MoCA and Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Additional funding provided by The MAP Fund, a program of Creative Capital supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation. Production design support provided by the Edith Lutyens and Norman Bel Geddes Design Enhancement Fund, a program of the Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York (A.R.T./New York).


“When I look back at those days, I have no doubt that divine providence guided us... it seemed to me often that we were not alone.”
—Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton

EMPAC 2011-2012 presentations, residencies, and commissions are supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Dance Project of the New England Foundation for the Arts (with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; additional funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Community Connections Fund of the MetLife Foundation, and the Boeing Company Charitable Trust), and the New York State Council for the Arts. Special thanks to the Jaffe Fund for Experimental Media and Performing Arts for support of artist commissions.

Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation
National Endowment for the Arts
NEFA - New England Foundation for the Arts
State of the Arts - NYSCA