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    Disfarmer

    St. Ann’s Warehouse will present the World Premiere of Disfarmer, Dan Hurlin’s first new object theater work since his award-winning puppet-theater piece, Hiroshima Maiden, which premiered at St. Ann’s Warehouse in 2003. Of that production, The Los Angeles Times said, “Gracefully negotiated eloquence lingers well after the lights come up on this enthralling, sobering shadow play.”

    Disfarmer is inspired by the forty-year career (1917-1946) of portrait photographer Mike Disfarmer, who for decades shunned his family and neighbors while operating the only portrait studio for miles around Heber Springs, Arkansas. Using glass plate photography long after it was obsolete, Disfarmer built a special darkroom to house his camera, so both photographer and subject were alone in the instant the photo was taken. When 4,000 of his negatives surfaced in the 1970s, Disfarmer’s photos were recognized as a stunning achievement, with their exquisite artistry, profound empathy and invaluable documentation of a vanishing way of life.

    Hurlin’s Disfarmer recreates a visceral sense of the photographer’s interior and exterior worlds, illuminating the contradictions in the life of this American hermit whose intimate and revealing portraiture documented an entire community.

    Alone but not despairing, longing but not lonely, Disfarmer is represented in Hurlin’s work by a series of puppets, each an exact reprint of the last, except 2 inches smaller. During the course of the play, Disfarmer shrinks like the rest of rural America, until he is completely gone, and we are left with the quiet and nervous expectancy of standing perfectly still for a long exposure. Using the direct manipulation style of American puppetry known as “table-top puppetry” and antique optical techniques like Magic lantern slides and 8mm home movies, five puppeteers show us Disfarmer in his studio as he categorizes his every possession, barricades himself from the outside world, and compulsively measures constantly expanding distances between things.

    Set to oddly funny music from old Edison Wax disks and haunting Ozark mountain music, re-contextualized by Dan Moses Schreier, and with text by playwright Sally Oswald, Disfarmer is a portrait of a portrait artist.

    Dates:  Jan. 27, 2009 - Feb. 8, 2009
    Schedule:  Tues " Fri at 8; Sat at 2 and 8; Sun at 4.
    Venue:  St. Ann's Warehouse, 38 Water St., DUMBO, Brooklyn
    Price:  $22.50
    Tickets/info:  (718) 254-8779


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