ralphlemon Photo by Dan Merlo Come home Charley Patton

Photo of David Thomson, Djédjé Djédjé Gervais (background), and Ralph Lemon by Dan Merlo

 

 

Come home Charley Patton

The critically acclaimed multimedia performance Come home Charley Patton (2004) marks the culmination of US choreographer Ralph Lemon’s GEOGRAPHY TRILOGY, “a 10-year project that was a profound self-examination and a sustained inquiry into the social gravities of art, race and identity at the turn of the 21st century.

“…For Come home Charley Patton, Lemon visited charged sites from the volatile history of the Civil Rights period, performed ritual ‘counter-memorials’ at lynching sites, and danced in the living rooms of relatives of early blues musicians from the Mississippi Delta… Come Home Charley Patton investigated how different generations remember the same critical events and places; what kind of narratives do justice to traumatic memories; and what form memories can ultimately take through the aesthetic works of this project. The exploration of these elements contributed to a performance where documentary footage and autobiography shared the stage with the abstraction and fiction of contemporary dance/theater” (MAPP International).

Please note that what we’ll be watching is a video of a live performance, the rhythm of which can be challenging for viewers accustomed to tightly edited movies.

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Come home Charley Patton (93 min)
Thursday, March 29, 7.10pm
Choreographed and directed by Ralph Lemon
A Cross Performance Inc. production
Featuring performances by Djédjé Djédjé Gervais, Darrell Jones, Ralph Lemon, Gesel Mason, Okwui Okpokwasili, and David Hamilton Thomson

Visual design by Ralph Lemon
Scenic design by R. Eric Stone
Installation elements by Nari Ward
Lighting design by Roderick Murray
Original soundscore by Christian Marclay
Sound design by Lucas Indelicato
Video design by Mike Taylor
Costume design by Anne C. de Velder
Dramaturgy by Katherine Profeta
Documentary video by Chelsea Lemon Fetzer and Ralph Lemon
Co-produced by the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts and MultiArts Projects and Productions (MAPP)
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FREE SCREENING OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
University of Michigan Benzinger Library, Residential College
1423 East Quad (701 East University, A2 MI 48109)
Public entrance off of East University, door closest to Willard

Please note that this work deals with subjects of violence and racism.

This free screening forms part of the interdisciplinary course and film series Personal, Present and Immediate*: Making Performance on Socio-Political Questions. Post-screening discussions of each work will be moderated by Artist in Residence and Visiting Professor Eryn Rosenthal.

Co-sponsored by the EXCEL Lab (Excellence in Entrepreneurship, Career Empowerment and Leadership) of the School of Music, Theatre and Dance.

* “Personal, present and immediate”: From Murray v. Maryland (1935), one of the precedents to the Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education (1954).

Selected press on Come home Charley Patton:

A Counter-Memorial on a Northern Lynching (review), by Anna Kisselgoff, NYTimes, 28 Oct. 2004: https://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/28/arts/dance/a-countermemorial-on-a-northern-lynching.html

Dances With Ghosts (The Spirits Move Ralph Lemon), by Christopher Reardon, NYTimes, 24 Oct 2004: https://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/24/arts/dance/dances-with-ghosts-the-spirits-move-ralph-lemon.html

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From Mapp International:

Ralph Lemon/Cross Performance

In 2005, Ralph Lemon completed THE GEOGRAPHY TRILOGY, a 10-year project that was a profound self-examination and a sustained inquiry into the social gravities of art, race and identity at the turn of the 21st century. The Trilogy developed a global performance and visual language that was simultaneously modern and traditional, East and West, light and dark, formal and free form. The primacy of process, and the richness of materials that process uncovered– artistic, emotional, historical– created profound questions for Ralph as to how best to ‘translate’ the process and ‘control’ the materials in order to bring a work for audiences to the stage. The ongoing struggle between process and production created a tension that became a vital element in the Trilogy works, which ultimately included dance/theater performances, books, video journals, web projects and gallery exhibitions.

Part 1: Geography (premiered 1997), began with Lemon’s exploration into apparent African and post-African connections to his life as an African American. The cast included nine men of African descent from Cٴe d’Ivoire, Guinea and the U.S.

In Part 2: Tree: (premiered 2000), Lemon directed his inquiry to Asia, following his attraction to Buddhism and how it might generate an art aesthetic. Tree placed the energy and sound of the “Africa” of Geography next to a perceived Asian “quiet,” while exploring the collision of tradition and modernity through contemporary performance. Performers included male and female dancers and musicians from Cٴe d’Ivoire, China, India, Japan, Taiwan and the United States.

For Part 3: Come home Charley Patton (premiered 2004), Lemon returned to America. Here, he visited charged sites from the volatile history of the Civil Rights period, performed ritual “counter-memorials” at lynching sites, and danced in the living rooms of relatives of early blues musicians from the Mississippi Delta. Lemon also wove ideas from a mix of iconoclastic artists of contemporary literature and performance art, from James Baldwin to Bruce Nauman, into this historically charged research of rural America. Come Home Charley Patton investigated how different generations remember the same critical events and places; what kind of narratives do justice to traumatic memories; and what form memories can ultimately take through the aesthetic works of this project. The exploration of these elements contributed to a performance where documentary footage and autobiography shared the stage with the abstraction and fiction of contemporary dance/theater.

Come home Charley Patton | 2018 | Personal, Present and Immediate Film Series