Elsewhere...: Speeding Motorcycle Plays Austin's Zachary Scott Theatre

Posted by: Staffon 2008/2/15 7:30:00 4244 reads Speeding Motorcycle
Created & Directed By Jason Nodler • Songs & Concepts By Daniel Johnston

February 14 - April 13, 2008


ZACH Theatre and Austin audiences eagerly await rock opera SPEEDING MOTORCYCLE—hitting the stage on Valentine’s Day. This out-of-this-world rock opera takes its inspiration from cult figure Daniel Johnston, a singer, songwriter and artist who first gained recognition in Austin during the 1980s, worldwide in the years since, and was the subject of the 2005 documentary "The Devil and Daniel Johnston." America's most unlikely pop phenomenon and 'outsider' visual artist...

Johnston has spent the last twenty-five years exposing his heartrending tales of unrequited love, cosmic mishaps and existential torment to an ever-growing international cult audience. "I regard him as a universal figure. Though he is relatively unknown, Daniel Johnston is one of our most important and inspirational living artists," says director and creator Jason Nodler. "We all have the conditions that Daniel has; the volume is just turned up for him. His songs are like vitamins for the soul."

From the surprise early success of his poignantly personal homemade cassettes, to accolades such as inclusion in the 2006 Whitney Biennial invitations to show at London's Aquarium Gallery, an invitation from David Bowie to perform at Queen Elizabeth Hall, and a the Lyon Opera Ballet commission set to six of his songs, he has become an underground pop legend. Daniel Johnston ejnjoys the support of many fans, from Matt Groening (creator of The Simpsons) to Johnny Depp to David Bowie and the late Kurt Cobain. A range of artists, such as Beck, Wilco, Sonic Youth, Yo La Tengo, Sparklehorse, Jad Fair, The Pastels, and Pearl Jam have all covered Johnston's music.

SPEEDING MOTORCYCLE, the namesake of one of Johnston's songs, is a quirky, supernatural narrative matching that of Johnston's "Laurie" songs, a collection of more than 100 songs dedicated to the songwriter's own unrequited love of an undertaker's girlfriend. The main character, Joe the Boxer (an alter ego Johnston frequently uses in his art), loses his mind after being rejected by Laurie, realizing his only chance at being in the arms of the woman he loves is to die and have her prepare his body for burial.

"What catches you off-guard is how surprisingly sweet the love story is in Speeding Motorcycle. The innocence of Daniel's lyrics coupled with music that you leave the theatre singing makes this a work that stays with you."
– Dave Steakley, ZACH Artistic Director

Originally staged in Houston by Infernal Bridegroom Productions (IBP) with support from a Multi-Arts Production Fund grand by the Rockefeller Foundation, this quirky love story coupled with Beatles-esque music was a hit among audiences and critics alike. The New York Times said “At a recent performance of “Speeding Motorcycle,” scores of people were turned away at the door. Many moped around outside, hoping someone just might leave at intermission! The Texas troupe's latest work...has won over critics and audience members alike.”

"Sheer fun…A match made in alternative arts heaven…There's something irresistible in the show's blend of madness, sweetness and childlike innocence…You may find ‘Speeding Motorcycle’ funny, touching or just plain weird, sometimes all at once. But you will find it different from anything else you've encountered…Anyone who's ever enjoyed Johnston's work should not miss [this] exuberant celebration of his unique creativity. For those who've never experienced it, ‘Speeding Motorcycle’ makes a fascinating introduction." - Houston Chronicle

Local music legend Kathy McCarty, whose popular album of Daniel Johnston covers “Dead Dog’s Eyeball” generated fresh interest in the artist’s work in the mid-90s, is a featured player in the cast and band. McCarty’s band Glass Eye was instrumental in introducing Daniel’s work to Austin audiences in the 80s and she is prominently featured in “The Devil and Daniel Johnston.” "The play is essentially the dramatization of (Johnston's) psyche, dealing with the iconic figures from his drawings and songs," says McCarty. "It's all pretty trippy."

Joe the Boxer is played mainly by three different actors (Kyle Sturdivant, Cary Winscott and Joe Folladori, who originated the roles in Houston), but at other times he's played by everyone in the cast. The 17 person ensemble, which includes Bill Anderson (Poison 13, Meat Purveyors, Horsies, Cat Scientist), Sheri Lane (Glass Eye, Horsies), Terri Lord (The Jitters, Bad Mutha Goose, Sincola), Adam Kahan (The Invincible Czars, Jazzus

Lizard, Summer Breeze) and Leila Henley (The Invincible Czars); local stage favorites Susanne Abbott, Amy Downing, Adriene Mishler, Scott Shipman and Paul Sanchez; and relative newcomers Hannah Hagar, Adam Smith and Carl Romines..

In addition to Joe the Boxer, Laurie and The Undertaker, Captain America, Casper the Friendly Ghost and Jeremiah the Frog - all recurring characters from Johnston's works - appear throughout the show. SPEEDING MOTORCYCLE includes well-known songs by Johnston including "Living Life,", “The Sun Shines Down On Me,” "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Your Grievances," and a previously unreleased track "Loving Feelings."

"The unqualified success of Nodler's adaptation not only adds another element to the ever-growing legend of the enigmatic Johnston, it also adds another triumph to Nodler's rapidly growing reputation as a playwright and a director. Given the critical and popular success of Nodler's neon Johnston spectacle, an off-Broadway run seems the next logical step." - NoDepression

ZACH THEATRE:
Founded in 1932, ZACH Theatre is one of Austin's most vibrant and innovative arts organizations and Central Texas' oldest professional theatre. ZACH Theatre's mission is to engage Central Texas in a dialogue by producing professional theatre of the highest artistic quality, inspired by a unique artistic vision and to offer a diverse theatre experience which is accessible to the community as a whole. In addition, ZACH Theatre fosters artistic education, expression, and development in children, teens and adults through a variety of outreach opportunities.

Dates & Times:
February 14 - March 23

Ticket Info:
$28 - $43, Discounts for seniors, students, and groups of 8 or more
–$15 Wednesday Night Shows for the Month of March (5 – 26)
Charge tickets by phone at (512) 476-0541, ext. 1

Location:
ZACH Theatre's Kleberg Stage,
Corner of West Riverside Drive at South Lamar


Click Here to Visit Zachary Scott Theatre's Site!