A Letter Compiled from All Letters (2019)

Second Harvest
New Hazlett Theater
Pittsburgh, PA
June 13–15, 2019 (premiere)

A Letter Compiled From All Letters (ALCFAL), an evening-length, contemporary dance work merging live performance and video projection, began with letter-writing. Collaborators Maree ReMalia (director/choreographer), Gigi Gatewood (multimedia artist), and Lillian Cho (performer) wanted to investigate connection and communication in an era of digital media. So they asked friends and acquaintances to write them letters sharing moments of significance and the impacts of digital communication in their lives. The answers were profound, mundane, and hilarious. Aspects of the letters influenced the initial development of improvisational scores to generate movement and conduct early experiments with video, music, sound, text, and set design for the work. Since these early stages, the work has evolved in unexpected ways.

The collaborative team works with cross-disciplinary cast members David Bernabo, Joseph Hall, Moriah Ella Mason, Jil Stifel, and understudy Sarah Friedlander. In a moment in which we often perceive scarcity of time and the ability to be in constant contact and simultaneous distance, the artists consider the currency of attention and experience of intimacy. While feeling into the physicality, pace, and content of analog letter writing alongside the fleeting communication that exists in virtual spaces, they question what we hold dear and what is disposable. The performance migrates between minimalist moments and amplified scenes and movement that is almost-pedestrian and semi-virtuosic. Dancers vocalize and visual artists move. Stop-motion videos and oversized projections help magnify what is compelling and toy with the distance between carefully-curated selves and true realities. Live and recorded sound rove between hymn-like vocalizations and sparse tones indicating spaciousness and fullness of time. The performers activate a mobile, wooden set designed by visual artist, Natalia Gomez and are costumed by designer, Emily Vallozzi. Wood, paper, pencil, devices, objects, movement, sound, and text collapse and meld and affect each other as human bodies try to resist, succumb, absorb, utilize, control, and react to them. The creative team invites audience members to experience the resulting abstracted portrayals that are tender and unpredictable, offering escape from, and new angles into our dialogue with each other and our ever-evolving technologies.

Concept Maree ReMalia, Gigi Gatewood, Lillian Cho
Director/Choreographer Maree ReMalia
Movement generation and composition the performers, Natalia Gomez, and Susan Kuo
Performers David Bernabo, Lillian Cho, Gigi Gatewood, Joseph Hall, Moriah Ella Mason, Maree ReMalia, Jil Stifel
Understudy Sarah Friedlander
Projection Design Gigi Gatewood and David Bernabo
Soundtrack Design David Bernabo
Live Music David Bernabo and Joseph Hall
Text for Performance Moriah Ella Mason
Set Design Natalia Gomez
Costume Design Emily Vallozzi
Lighting Design Forrest Trimble
Q&A Facilitator Adil Mansoor
Video Documentation, Teaser, Trailer David Cherry
Photo Documentation Renee Rosensteel
Promotional Photography Gigi Gatewood
Grant Writers Maree ReMalia and Lisa Ferrugia Atkinson
Administrative Assistant & Stage Manager Ally Tayag Ricarte
Contributor to Text for Marketing Adil Mansoor
Artistic Advisors Adil Mansoor, Bebe Miller, Krista Miranda, Michael J. Morris, Staycee Pearl
Letter Contributors Alaina, Ann, Anna, AnnaJo, Candace, Courtney, Dee, Ditty, Donnie, Heather, Huirong, Jenn, Jim, Jose, Keri, Lorenzo, Lynn, Megan, Michael, Pam, Paul, PinLing, Rachel, Sarah, Taylor, Will, Zac

This project is presented in partnership with New Hazlett Theater through a new pilot program aimed at helping artists who are shifting from emerging to established status. Funding for the project “A Letter Compiled From All Letters” was provided by the A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation and the Investing in Professional Artists Grants Program, a partnership of The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments, Choolaah Gives, Opportunity Fund, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (a state agency), The Heinz Endowments Small Arts Initiative, donors Susan Kruman Gillis and Courtney Harris, and has been supported by Amherst College Guest Artist Series, Kelly Strayhorn Theater Fresh Works Residency, and PearlArts Studios PearlDiving Movement Residency.

Excerpts of the work-in-progress were also performed at Bates Dance Festival (2018), Lion’s Jaw Performance + Dance Festival (2018), and LSDT Wine, Cheese, and Dance (2018). Elements of this work have informed the development of Shimmer at Point Park University (2019) and Phasing at Appalachian State University (2019).

“People have been predicting the death of hand-written letters at least since the birth of the telephone. And over the past couple of decades, the rise of e-mail and social media hasn’t done any favors for the art of the epistle. But Maree ReMalia – herself a life-long writer of letters – is curious what that latter change has meant. Along with New York-based multimedia artist Gigi Gatewood and Washington, D.C.-based performer Lillian Cho, the Pittsburgh choreographer has created A Letter Compiled From All Letters, a multi-disciplinary dance work that explores the issue.”
– Bill O’Driscoll, WESA

Guest Artist Series WIP Showing and Rehearsal Experiments
Amherst College Theatre and Dance Department
November 16, 2018
original photos Maree ReMalia
Fresh Works Residency WIP Showing
Kelly Strayhorn Theater Alloy Studios
December 1, 2017
original photos Nancy Andrews and Maranie Rae