"Inspired, enchanting puppet theater with a punch"
It was through the majesty of the design and Ryan Heffington’s dream-like choreography that the production spoke so eloquently and ardently to the current crisis.The astonishing puppetry and hypnotic original musical (both are credited to Erik Sanko, clearly a genius) were entrancing…
-Charles McNulty, LA Times
"Brilliant 'Memory Rings' encourages an essential reconnection"
“Memory Rings is, to use director/designer Jessica Grindstaff’s description, a “theatrical collage” where marionettes, masks, multi-media, music and movement offer an entertaining feast for all senses. It is, however, much more than that: this work individually and collectively invites us to profoundly reconnect ourselves with the rest of the ever-changing, living Earth."
"Erik Sanko’s puppet design is masterful; the small human effigies brim with life even when they’re not moving. His original music, sometimes searing (particularly when Jeffrey Zeigler’s commanding cello is heard) and sometimes buoyant, works...to create a splendid soundtrack that’s clearly conveyed by Darron L. West’s exquisite sound design."
"A marvelously inventive New York troupe with a magicians touch..."
The astonishing puppetry and hypnotic original musical (both are credited to Erik Sanko, clearly a genius) were entrancing…
"A wonderful gift beyond the price of any ticket."
"There are stark images through Keith Skretch’s excellent video projections that underline the human indifference to natural balance we see throughout the show. But “Memory Rings” doesn’t preach; instead, with references from Gilgamesh to Google (and Little Red Riding Hood too) it offers dramatic food for thought (and heart) while laughing at human absurdities as well. And did I smell some woodland-inspired fragrance in the air? Credit Douglas Little for that nice addition."
"Sadly the environmental care we must take with Earth seems a far-off memory or scattered dream now, but Phantom Limb’s Memory Rings brilliantly reminds us it does not have to be that way."
Phantom Limb Company (PLC), based in New York City, is known for its work with marionette-puppetry and focus on collaborative, multi-media theatrical production and design. Co-founded in 2007 by installation artist, painter and set designer Jessica Grindstaff and composer and puppet maker Erik Sanko, Phantom Limb has been lauded for its unconventional approach to this venerable format. Phantom Limb includes a large rotating cast of friends, collaborators, artists, dancers and puppeteers. In their short career, Phantom Limb has produced The Fortune Teller, Dear Mme., The Devil You Know with Ping Chong, Lemony Snicket’s The Composer Is Dead with Berkeley Repertory Theatre, 69 ˚S. with The Kronos Quartet, and Peer Gynt with Republique Theatre, Copenhagen, Denmark.
PLC is fiercely committed to working with puppetry, a fundamental element in all of their theatrical work. While the company’s founding ideals held realism as the highest attainable attribute in puppetry movement, they have since expanded their inquiry and discipline to include ways in which puppets can communicate in an imagistic and poetic language—much like the poets from the early part of the 19th century; the writings of T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound.
As artists they seek to convey more than the sheer joy of the theatrical spectacle and delve deeply into the content of their subject matter. They are meticulous researchers and use the conclusions drawn to inform their visual work. Presently they are exploring new ways of conveying concern around the topic of ecology. It is this combination of a deep love of performance production coupled with a deeper philosophical inquiry that distinguishes them from other theater makers.
Phantom Limb been commissioned by the Brooklyn Academy of Music and has received grants and awards from the Jim Henson Foundation, the Jerome Foundation, the Manhattan Cultural Council, the National Science Foundation, New York State Composer’s Grant, MAP Fund, New Music USA and others.
Jessica Grindstaff (PLC Co-Artistic Director, Director, Set Designer) is a New York City-based artist who has been known as a creator of haunting, meticulously constructed music box dioramas and paintings in wax and chalkboard as well as a jewelry line/ on-going performance piece of prize ribbons and medals. Within the context of Phantom Limb company she is a creative director that consistently takes a fine art approach to set design and has a strident commitment to making collaborative theatrical work. Jessica has collaborated with such diverse artists as Mark Z. Danielewski, Ulrike Quade, the Kronos Quartet, Ping Chong, and Geoff Sobelle. In 2010 Jessica production designed Lemony Snicket’s The Composer is Dead at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. 69˚S. brought Jessica to a teaching residency in Melbourne Australia, a research residency with original expedition journals at Dartmouth College, residencies at Brooklyn Academy of Music, MASS MoCA, EMPAC, the Grand Theatre in the Netherlands and most dramatically to the continent of Antarctica itself. Last year she was the set designer on Peer Gynt at Copenhagen’s Republique Theatre and is presently collaborating with Tiffany & Co. for their window display campaign for the holiday season of 2015. Jessica engages as Puppetry Choreographer for PLC as well as Director and continues creative engagement with interior set design, installation and fabrication for commercial clients.
Erik Sanko (PLC Co-Artistic Director, Composer, Puppet Designer) is best known as a fixture of the NYC downtown music scene, having recorded and toured with John Cale, Yoko Ono, Gavin Friday, Jim Carroll, James Chance and the Contortions as well as being a 16-year veteran of The Lounge Lizards and his own band, Skeleton Key. In 2006, his first complete puppet play, The Fortune Teller, debuted at HERE Arts Center in New York City. The Kronos Quartet commissioned Erik to create music and marionettes for Dear Mme., at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Erik composed music for puppeteer Ulrike Quade's The Wall and in 2007 Erik formed Phantom Limb Company (PLC) with Jessica Grindstaff. With Phantom Limb he scored and designed marionettes for Ping Chong’s The Devil You Know and designed marionettes for the Lemony Snicket production The Composer is Dead at The Berkeley Repertory Theater in Dec. 2010. In 2011 he co-created, wrote the score performed by The Kronos Quartet and made the marionettes for the PLC production 69˚ S. which premiered at B.A.M. and toured the U.S. to great critical acclaim. In 2013 Erik designed puppets for an adaptation of Peer Gynt produced in Copenhagen by The Republique Theater. Together with Jessica he has lectured and taught at The New School, A.F.U.K. in Copenhagen and The Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne. In the spring of 2015 he will begin teaching a puppetry course at The Rhode Island School of Design. He holds a B.F.A. from Cooper Union and has been a closet puppet maker since childhood.
Ryan Heffington (Choreographer) is a performance artist, choreographer, designer and self-described dance guru. Driven by audience involvement and the ephemeral moment, Heffington brings to light multiple bodies in a single choreographed space. Pioneered by artists such as Merce Cunningham, Joan Jonas, Robert Rauschenberg, and Yvonne Rainer, Heffington's approach to dance-as-life-as-art provides space for the play of identities and roles, and explores the essence of diverse bodies, gestures and movements. Heffington has staked his claim in the commercial and underground art worlds. His exhaustive resume includes work in national art galleries, on fashion show runways, professional dance stages, numerous TV shows and at some of the grittiest night clubs around the globe. He has been described as both "a mad Bob Fosse with a sewing machine" and "Martha Graham on meth" by the Los Angeles Times, "A force to be reckoned with" by Huffington Post and "a fucking genius" by Blackbook Magazine. Heffington’s work can be seen at the renowned Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Hammer Museum, Charlottenborg Museum (Copenhagen), and more. Recipient of the 2014 VMA award for Best Choreography, Heffington also received attention for choreographing Muse's "Uprising" performance at the 2011 Grammys and Sia’s 2015 Grammy performance with Kristin Wiig. He has worked on over 10 music videos, including the award winning “Chandelier” by Sia and 2009 UK MVAs Best Video nominee "Tonight's Today" by Jack Penate. More choreographic works can be seen in 2 forthcoming feature films "Vara: A Blessing" and "The East" starring Alexander Skarsgard, Ellen Page and Brit Marling.
Henrik Vibskov (Costume Design) “The Transparent Tongue“, “The Spaghetti Handjob“ and “The Shrink Wrap Spectacular“ are just a few titles of shows Henrik Vibskov has produced lately, each title referring to a different but equally mesmerising world and set of logic. As a fashion designer Henrik Vibskov has produced over 27 mens (and later also women’s) collections since he graduated from Central St. Martins in 2001, and as a member of the Chambre Syndicale de la Mode Masculine he is currently the only Scandinavian designer on the official show schedule of the Paris Mens Fashion Week, which he has been since January 2003. Henrik has frequently been invited to and participated in festivals, contests and talks and throughout his career his designs have won him prizes such as the Becks Student Future Prize 2000, New Name of the Year 2003, the Danish Design Council Award 2007, Brand of the Year DANSK Fashion Awards 2008, an award from the Danish Arts Foundation in 2009, the 2011 Söderberg prize, the highest value design prize in the world, as well as the Jury Prize at the Danish Fashion Awards in 2012. He has exhibitited at PS1 – MoMA in New York, Palais de Tokyo in Paris, ICA in London, Zeeuws Museum in Holland, Kiyomizu-Dera Temple in Kyoto, Japan, Wilhelm Wagendfeld Haus in Bremen, NAI Nederlands Architectuur Instituut in Rotterdam, Holland, The Textile Museum, Washington, USA , just to name a few. He is currently Professor at DSKD and has published four books, including a 2012 monograph of his work to date (published by Gestalten).
Brian H. Scott (Light Design) a Lighting and Scenic Designer based in New York City, is resident designer for Austin TX based Rude Mechanicals, where he designed Stop Hitting Yourself at Lincoln Center, Now Now Oh Now, Method Gun, I’ve Never Been So Happy, How Late It Was How Late, Lipstick Traces, Requium for Tesla, and Matchplay. With the Park Avenue Armory he created lighting for Douglas Gordon’s Tears become…Streams become, Oktophonie, and Ann Hamilton’s The Event Of A Thread. He designed lighting for Laurie Anderson and Kronos Quartet’s Landfall at University of Maryland. As a SITI Company member he designed lighting for Steel Hammer with Bang on a Can All Stars, The Persians and Trojan Women with the Getty Villa, American Document with the Martha Graham company, , Cafe Variations, Under Construction, WhoDoYouThinkYouAre, Hotel Cassioepia, Death and the Ploughman, bobrauschenbergamerica(Henry Hewes Design Award 2004), Radio MacBeth and War of the Worlds Radio Play.
Darron L West (Sound Design) is a TONY and OBIE award winning sound designer whose work for theater and dance has been heard in over 500 Productions nationally and internationally on Broadway and off. His many accolades for sound design include the Bay Area Theater Critics Circle Award, the Lucille Lortel the AUDELCO and he is a two time Henry Hewes Design Award winner and a proud recipient of the 2012 Princess Grace Award Statue. He is a founding member of Anne Bogart’s SITI Company. Former Resident Sound Designer for Actors Theater of Louisville his directing credits include Kid Simple for the 2004 Humana New Play Festival, Big Love for Austin's Rude Mechs (Austin Critics Table Award Best Director) and SITI’s National Tours of War of the Worlds Radio Play and RadioMacbeth.
Keith Skretch (Projection Design) designs video for performance and installation. His theatrical designs have been seen across North America and Europe, and include collaborations with such artists as Palissimo, Big Dance Theater, Mallory Catlett, and Jay Scheib. In his own work, Keith frequently explores genre tropes through meticulous deconstruction. His installation LOOK/KILL (Bushwick Starr and Automata) reconfigured the final duel of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly into a 3-channel living stasis, while Display Replay (CalArts New Works Festival) exploded the media spectacle of professional football. He has created devised performance work, adapted and directed texts, VJ-ed on hotel rooftops, and toured with companies ranging from downtown’s Radiohole to WNYC’s Radiolab. His experimental animation Waves of Grain screened at festivals internationally and was featured in Huffington Post, Creators Project, Gizmodo, and Colossal. Keith holds a BA from the University of Chicago and an MFA from CalArts, where he was one of the inaugural graduates from the School of Theater’s Video for Performance specialization. He’s been nominated for Craig Noel and LA Weekly Design Awards, and received a StageSceneLA award. His work on the Obie-winning This Was The End earned a 2014 Bessie Award and a 2014 Henry Hewes Design Award. www.keithskretch.com
Janice Paran (Dramaturg) is a New Jersey based dramaturg and a senior program associate for the Sundance Institute Theatre Program. She spent 14 seasons as the director of play development at McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, N.J., and she has worked closely with numerous writers and artists, including Annie Baker, Nilo Cruz, Christopher Durang, Steven Dietz, Beth Henley, Emily Mann, Dael Orlandersmith, Polly Pen, Regina Taylor, Stephen Wadsworth, Tracey Scott Wilson and Doug Wright in the development of new work for the theatre. Paran is a Civilians associate artist, an artistic advisor to the Weston Playhouse Theatre Company in Weston, Vt., and a site visitor for the Philadelphia Theatre Initiative. Paran has taught at Princeton University, Drew University and New York University, and she holds M.F.A. degrees from Catholic University and the Yale School of Drama - See more at: http://actorstheatre.org/cast-crew/janice-paran/#sthash.adDOFjUt.dpuf