SUNY Potsdam’s Department of Theatre and Dance will host a “one night only” performance of “Love, Isadora,” by Rick Foster, a play about the early modern dancer Isadora Duncan, at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 21 in Dunn Theater.
The play’s namesake, Isadora Duncan (1877-1927), began formulating her own philosophy of dance after being introduced to the philosophy of Frederick Nietzsche as a young woman. She argued that “the dance of the future” would be similar to the dance of the ancient Greeks—natural and free. Believing that ballet deformed the body, Duncan advocated its abolition. She considered any art that was not religious to be “mere merchandise.”
Playwright Rick Foster first wrote “Love, Isadora” for San Francisco’s Xoregos Performing Company in 1978. It was widely performed in California and Nevada until 1980, at which point he shelved it, until in 2005 Lori Russo and Janis Stevens—the director of this production—persuaded him it was still viable.
In this production, actress Lori Russo portrays Isadora Duncan—a role for which she won the 2008 Elly Award from the Sacramento Area Regional Theatre Alliance for best actress in a drama. Tracy Eisenberg, the choreographer of “Love, Isadora,” is an alumna of SUNY Potsdam’s Department of Theatre and Dance, where she completed her degree in Dance and English Writing in 2001.
Theatre critic Kel Munger wrote of the play: “‘Love, Isadora’ has all the elements that make a one-person show work: a fascinating subject in a life that lends itself to drama, a director who knows how to build that drama and an actress with the range and depth to pull it all off. Lori Russo takes on the life of manic, tragic genius Isadora Duncan without a trace of reservation, using her entire body as a tool that gives us the physical impression of the woman who, for all practical purposes, invented modern dance. California Stage playwright-in-residence Rick Foster has written an original script that moves back and forth through Duncan’s life, emphasizing the poetic approach she used to describe her work. Russo lightly dances (both literally and figuratively) throughout so that the darkness is gathered into a sense of foreboding, even for those who are not familiar with the life of this California-born citizen of the world.”
Russo holds a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree from the University of Southern California. She is a founding member of Strike Repertory Theater in Los Angeles and has her own production company in New York City called Catwalk Productions. Russo has performed with Broadway touring companies in productions of “42nd Street” and “Meet Me in St. Louis,” as well as such dramatic productions as “The Seagull,” “Crimes of the Heart” and “Comedy of Errors.”
In addition to “Love, Isadora,” Foster has written such one-person plays as “Vivien,” about “Gone with the Wind” star Vivien Leigh; “The Heroes of Xochiquipa,” which won a Bay Area Theater Critics Award for outstanding original script; “Gunpowder Man,” about the Taiping Rebellion, the building of the Central Pacific Railroad and the violence of anti-Chinese racism in the 1880s, and “Fastened to a Dying Animal,” in which Foster played poet William Butler Yeats.
SUNY Potsdam alumna Eisenberg excelled as a student, and was presented with the Dance Performance Award upon her graduation from the College in 2001. She has since made her home in Brooklyn, N.Y., and has choreographed, performed and produced many multimedia events in the New York City area. Her work has been presented in a number of theaters, including Merce Cunningham Studios, Williamsburg Art Nexus (WAX), Teatro La Tea, Studio AIR and Galapagos Art Space. Her first full evening of work, “Back and Forth,” was presented to sold-out audiences at Triskelion Arts in Brooklyn in October 2008. Eisenberg is also a performing and recording vocalist, singing lead for the blues pop band The Possessions and providing backing vocals for popular area bands such as Robbers on High Street, Frank Schiazza and The Kimballs. She is currently starting production on her second full evening show of original choreography, while continuing to perform and teach modern dance.
Director Janis Stevens won a 2008 Elly Award for best direction for her work on “Love, Isadora.” She is a 2006 Drama Desk Award nominee for outstanding solo performance for her portrayal of Vivien Leigh in the one-woman show “Vivien,” also by Rick Foster. Stevens is an associate artist with Capital Stage in Sacramento, Calif., where she will be directing “Reasons To Be Pretty” by Neil LaBute this coming season. She is an adjunct professor of theatre arts at American River College and a member of the Actors’ Equity Association.
Additionally, Tracy Eisenberg and Lori Russo will teach masterclasses in the Department of Theater and Dance during their week in residence at SUNY Potsdam.
Tickets are $12 for general admission, $10 for SUNY Potsdam faculty and staff and senior citizens and $5 for students with ID. Tickets will be sold at the door beginning at 6:30 p.m., and can be purchased in advance by calling Leslie Delosh at (315) 267-2556 or visiting the Department of Theatre and Dance Office in Satterlee Hall Room 238. For further information, please call (315) 267-3394 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about SUNY Potsdam’s Department of Theatre and Dance, visit www.potsdam.edu/academics/AAS/Theatre/.
Founded in 1816, and located on the outskirts of the beautiful Adirondack Park, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America’s first 100 colleges. SUNY Potsdam currently enrolls approximately 4,350 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its handcrafted education, challenging liberal arts and sciences core, excellence in teacher training, and leadership in the performing and visual arts.