Poor Herman
by Paper Chairs

May. 12 - May. 28, 2016

Herman Melville (via paper chairs)paper chairs invites you to Poor Herman, a new play written by paper chairs’ co-founder and Austin playwright Elizabeth Doss. Join us at the Off Center May 12-28, 2016 as Doss, Herman Melville’s great-great-great granddaughter, uses the author as a subject to speculate on the line between utter genius and epic failure in us all.
Poor Herman unearths the life of Herman Melville, who arguably wrote America’s best and worst novels back to back in the 1850 and 1851.  The production considers what compelled Melville, struggling to salvage his declining reputation while trying to feed a growing family, to write a virtually unreadable book, Pierre or the Ambiguities, in the aftermath of Moby Dick’s initial failure with critics and readers. What is known about Melville in those years depicts a man suffering from mania and the curse of outrageous ambition. While hindsight now celebrates his achievements, paper chairs will investigate what it cost him to make history.

The play gives voice to the unsung people in his life, chiefly his mother, wife, sisters, and daughters who each contributed to his fame and flourishing, and endured his decline and demise. The ensemble features five women, who play every character in Melville’s life including Melville himself and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Additionally, composer Henna Chou will perform a live original score. By rendering this American icon through the female form, we see the overtly masculine Melville in a whole new light.

Written by a direct descendant of Melville 125 years after his death, Poor Herman invites a dialogue between America’s past and present. What connects one generation to the next? What lingers in the bloodline? What’s bred in the bone?

paper chairs generates this new work from the ground up, exploring Melville’s legacy through the singular possibilities of live performance. Melville himself loathed “well-made” works of literature, so paper chairs will embrace a Melvillian aesthetic by wildly interpreting “the facts” and adapting his “worst” book for the stage.

Feature by Claire Carnavan at Austin Statesman, May 11, 2016
Audio feature by Michael Lee at KUT.org
[Herman Melville, 1861 - photo from Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA]
Poor Herman  
Written by: Elizabeth Doss 
Co-directors: Elizabeth Doss and Lisa Laratta 
Dramaturg: Diana Lynn Small
Performers: Courtney Hopkin, Alexis Scott, Diana Lynn Small, Megan Tabaque, and Rama Tchuente 
Composer: Henna Chou
Costume Design: E.L. Hone
Lighting Design: Kate Ducey
Master Electrician: Edna Rodriguez
Set Design: Lisa Laratta
Stage Manager: Courtney Cales
Co-Producers: Elizabeth Doss, Lisa Laratta, and Spring Karlo
at The Off Center  2211-A Hidalgo St. Austin, TX 78702

Poor Herman
by Elizabeth Doss
Paper Chairs

May 12 - May 28, 2016
Off Center
2211-A Hidalgo Street
near Robert Martinez and E. 7th Street, behind Joe's Bakery
Austin, TX, 78702
May 12-28, 2016:  Thurs, Fri, & Sat performances at 8 pm (Doors open at 7:30 pm.) 
at the Off Center, 2211-A Hidalgo Street (near E. 7th St. and Roberto Martinez)
$15-25 Sliding Scale General Admission & $10 Thursdays!

Info: www.paperchairs.com Or: info@paperchairs.com Or call: 512-686-662

(via paper chairs)