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Unformatted text preview: The New Yorker October 8, 2007 Experimental Journey; Elizabeth LeCompte takes on Shakespeare. BYLINE: Jane Kramer SECTION: FACT; Onward And Upward With The Arts; Pg. 48 Vol. 83 No. 30 LENGTH: 6687 words It was the top of the eighth on a drizzly night at Yankee Stadium-June 6, 2006. The Red Sox were in town, and Elizabeth LeCompte, wrapped in a thin red parka and settled into a great seat, in the seventh row, just to the right of home plate, was balancing a plastic cup of Courvoisier and a greasy carton of ballpark pizza, and studying Joe Torre, a couple of feet away at the Yankee dugout railing. LeCompte is a director, or, as she is often described, a "creator of theatre." In three weeks' time, her company, the Wooster Group, was scheduled to open in Barcelona with a new "Hamlet" that, by her own admission, was "not quite there" (it starts previews at the Public Theatre on October 9th), and LeCompte was wondering how Torre might handle the problem of a video technician notably unconcerned by a stage-right video monitor that didn't track and a Polonius with a memory block. LeCompte thinks of Joe Torre as a mentor in composure, or, you could say, a colleague in art. "I am not just a baseball fan; I am a Yankees fan and a Torre fan," she says. "I like winners, and the way Torre can keep a team together and make it shine, but he doesn't excuse anything when he loses. He says, 'It was just one of those games-you go back and forth in this business.' I wish I could be that way about a play." It looked like one of those games that night. There were two men out, and the Yankees held a 2-1 lead, but the redoubtable Manny Ramirez was strolling to the plate, to loud booing from the Yankee bleachers. LeCompte got to her feet and joined them. ("Ramirez is awful! " she says.) She loves booing at the Stadium. She loves the noise and the ads and the video screens and every bit of the music, from the scratchy old Kate Smith recording of "God Bless America" to the "Y.M.C.A." of the grounds crew. She thinks of a night game in the South Bronx as an inspirational mise en scène, perhaps because it is the only spectacle in town that achieves so naturally the elegant, chaotic harmony of the best of her pop-classical, mixed-genre, technologically and textually tangled Wooster Group productions. Consider "House/Lights," from 1998, in which Gertrude Stein's "Dr. Faustus Lights the Lights" meets a sixties lesbian S & M cult flick called "Olga's House of Shame." Or her newest project, "La Didone," in which Francesco Cavalli's seventeenth-century opera travels to the edge of the galaxy by way of another Italian classic called "Planet of the Vampires." She watches the players as if she were scouting actors for a new production. She can spot the style of a West Indian island or a prairie town in the way each Yankee performs; she thinks about how he would do onstage. "Jeter's a great player, but he's too self-conscious," she said, nodding in the direction of the Yankee captain, who was leaning over the dugout fence, pointedly nursing an injured thumb as Ramirez connected on the second pitch and sent the ball soaring toward the left-field stands. "He could connected on the second pitch and sent the ball soaring toward the left-field stands....
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- Spring '08
- LeCompte, elizabeth lecompte, The Wooster Group