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Richard Foreman: Ontological-Hysteric Theater, Vol. 1
Richard Foreman Ontological-Hysteric Theater Vol 1
Genres: Documentary
NR     2009     2hr 3min

Since the late 1960s, Richard Foreman has been writing, designing and directing some of the most important and innovative theatre experiences in the world. Documenting dozens of productions, and replete with commentary and...  more »


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Movie Details

Creator: Richard Foreman
Genres: Documentary
Sub-Genres: Documentary
Studio: TZADIK
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen
DVD Release Date: 03/10/2009
Original Release Date: 01/01/2008
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2008
Release Year: 2009
Run Time: 2hr 3min
Screens: Color,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

So that's what he was talking about...
Greg Dean | Houston, TX USA | 02/05/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I've directed a few of Richard Foreman's plays, but until this arrived in the mail I hadn't seen a Foreman-directed production of any of his scripts. I sort of imagined what the original productions might have been like based on Foreman's essays, stage directions and production photos, but I also had pretty strong personal reactions to the plays, and so was never really at a loss when staging and designing them. And though I've always suspected that my productions of Foreman's plays would probably not delight him overmuch, I'm confident they've at least been honest manifestations of my personal reactions to his work. I'm also uncharacteristically proud of them and consider them the most successful of my directing projects.

What I love about this DVD is I can finally see what happened when "theory" met "practice" at the Ontological-Hysteric Theater -- what Foreman did with those sometimes baffling scripts, how his dense and elusive ideas translated into concrete staging and design. Obviously, it's no substitute for seeing the work live, but as "theater-on-video" goes it's been a lot of fun for me."
A deep look into a powerful mind
Bennett Theissen | Los Angeles | 10/18/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Back around 1983 at the Kitchen in New York, I attended a showing of Ernie Gehr's film of the very early Ontological-Hysteric Theater Richard Foreman production "Sophia=Wisdom Part 3: The Cliffs." The play had been produced in 1972-73 and represents a very early production of Foreman's, back before the work sped up, so this was slow, stately, very formal, funny, and amazing to watch. Theater like Richard's is something almost ineffable. If you don't see it nothing can replace that experience. It was amazing for me, as a theater director myself and a student of avant garde thought, to see this work. It certainly didn't make a lot of sense to me, because my mind was busy trying to interpret what I was seeing rather than just weigh each moment for itself -- and because I doubted I would ever have the opportunity to see it again.

Well, thankfully, I was wrong about the latter. To my surprise and pleasure, Foreman has allowed this DVD to be released. Here you get the full Gehr film in all its 16mm flatness -- if you blow up the images they just blur out. But still here is that very film available to watch over and over. Secondly, you get about 80 minutes of clips from a variety of Foreman productions from the 70s to the current decade, all with a commentary track discussing what was going on in each excerpt. This is totally invaluable. Now people all over the world can see what only certain sophisticated theater goers have been wondering about for ages.

From production photos and the published script, I have always had a special fascination for the 1974 production "Pain(t)" so it has special significance to me to see the brief (four minute or so) excerpt offered here, despite the low video quality in which it is preserved. Kate Manheim, Foreman's wife and lead actress in many of the early works, is certainly a brave woman, allowing herself to be placed in such a strange and grotesque physical position on stage ("Oh Rhoda, try stuffing the word painter up your ass"). It's also exciting to see the late Ron Vawter from the Wooster Group as the President in A Symphony of Rats.

All in all, theater students and people who love to see theater pushed to the very edges will not want to miss this DVD."