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The Town Hall Affair et Early Shaker Spirituals

Two performances by The Wooster Group (New Settings #6)

Making an exceptional appearance at Paris’s Festival d’Automne 2016, The Wooster Group presents two stage performances: The Town Hall Affair and Early Shaker Spirituals: A Record Album Interpretation. The first recreates a celebrated intellectual debate, the second reinterprets the songs of America’s Shaker religious community, reflecting the broad scope of this iconic New York underground collective.  

Fondation d'Entreprise Hermès - The Town Hall Affair et Early Shaker Spirituals
© Paula-Court

Founded in New York in 1975, The Wooster Group was a protagonist in experimental, postmodern, radical theatre movements of the late 20th century, engaging with multiple creative spheres through a combination of performance, the visual arts, multimedia and textual works to create new narrative forms. Today, the collective brings two projects to Paris, exploring the act of reinterpretation.

The Town Hall Affair is based on a debate filmed in 1971, between the writer Norman Mailer and a panel of feminist thinkers. Digital technology enables The Wooster Group to reappropriate the original film, reassign roles and present a new interpretation of this celebrated intellectual and oratorial jousting match around burning societal issues. Today, as before, the stage becomes a forum for the debate of ideas, with a particular challenge to the concept of ‘living together’.

Early Shaker Spirituals: A Record Album Interpretation is a performance in dance and song, recreating the traditional music and rites of a Shaker community in the American state of Maine. By reinterpreting songs recorded for an album released in 1976, The Wooster Group revisits a practice adopted throughout its history. The Shakers’ terminal decline gives added poignancy to this documentary act of reappropriation. On stage, eight performers (four men and four women) celebrate the joy and simplicity of Shaker work and worship in collective songs and dances of great purity.

Both shows are part of New Settings #6 from the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès, supporting their production and performance in the Paris region, for the Festival d’Automne à Paris.

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At the Centre Pompidou
From Septembre 28 to October 1, 2016 : The Wooster Group, Early Shaker Spirituals: A Record Album Interpretation
8.30 p.m. (Wednesday to Friday), 5 p.m. (Saturday)
Duration: 50 min. In English with French surtitles.
From October 6 to 8, 2016 : The Wooster Group, The Town Hall Affair
8.30 p.m. (Thursday and Friday); 4 p.m. and 8.30 p.m. (Saturday)
Duration 1 h 10 min. In English with French surtitles. 


The Wooster Group
Early Shaker Spirituals: A Record Album Interpretation
With Cynthia Hedstrom, Elizabeth LeCompte, Frances McDormand, Bebe Miller, Suzzy Roche et Max Bernstein, Matthew Brown, Modesto Flako Jimenez, Bobby McElver, Jamie Poskin, Andrew Schneider
The Wooster Group
The Town Hall Affair
with Ari Fliakos, Greg Mehrten, Erin Mullin, Scott Shepherd, Maura Tierney, Kate Valk.
Corealisation : Les Spectacles vivants – Centre Pompidou (Paris) ; Festival d’Automne à Paris • with the support of the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès (‘New Settings’ programme).