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Blessed Are All the Little Snowballs in Hell: Screening and Discussion with John Fleck

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John Fleck in Blessed Are All the Little Fishes

Presented as part of NEA 4 in Residence.

For tickets to the workshop performance of A Snowball’s Chance in Hell click here.

John Fleck’s A Snowball’s Chance in Hell (1992) was a response to the experience of being thrust into the spotlight of controversy as a result of the defunding of his previous work Blessed Are All the Little Fishes (1989) by the NEA. Fascinatingly, neither of these works has ever been performed in New York City. For this program, Fleck hosts a screening of documentation of these notorious works and discusses plans for a potential future premiere of A Snowball’s Chance in Hell in New York City. David Schweizer, the director of the original production of Blessed Are All the Little Fishes, responds.

Blessed Are All the Little Fishes reveals Fleck’s attempts to grapple with the two biggest factors in his childhood: alcoholism and Catholicism. “It’s the story of this man’s binge, which is also society’s binge—man at his lowest point of alienation,” says Fleck, who, in the course of the show, dresses as a mermaid, urinates on stage, hacks up a dead goldfish, talks about bisexuality, and makes a toilet bowl into an altar by pasting a photo of Christ onto the lid. For his drunken character, Fleck says that the toilet is “the center of the universe, a place of miraculous visitation.”

Part Beckettian nightmare, part channel-surfing mindfuck, A Snowball’s Chance in Hell humorously/feverishly addresses the existential horror of trying to sustain oneself on mediated realities while lamenting the impossibility of ever being able to escape such mediation, foreshadowing today’s anxieties around the death of privacy (e.g., social media, smart phones, airport security, internet shopping, etc.).

Also featured in this program will be an excerpt from Kevin Duffy’s forthcoming documentary John Fleck is Who You Want Him to Be.

John Fleck is a performer, writer, and stage, television, and film actor based in Los Angeles. His past body of self scripted solo work includes: Mad Women, Johnny’s Got a Gun, Nothin’ Beats Pussy, Mud in your Eye, Dirt, me, A Snowball’s Chance in Hell, Blessed are all the Little Fishes, PsychoOpera, and I Got the He-be-she-be’s. A sampling of past performance venues includes: the ICA (London), ICA (Boston), the Public Theater, the Guggenheim Museum, Performance Space 122, LaMama Theater, Dixon Place, and Joe’s Pub (NYC), the Getty Museum, Cal Plaza, and MOCA (Los Angeles). Recent theater credits include: Tobacco Road (LaJolla Playhouse), She Stoops to Comedy (Evidence Room, LA), A Perfect Wedding (Kirk Douglas Theater, LA), Applause (Reprise, UCLA), Noises Off (Cape Playhouse, Dennis, MA), On the Jump (South Coast Rep), Small Craft Warnings, Cringe, The Berlin Circle (Evidence Room, LA), The Mystery of Irma Vep (Tiffany Theater, LA) & Tony Kushner’s adaptation of The Illusion (LATC), and The Granny (The Old Globe, San Diego). A sampling of TV/film work includes: True Blood, Criminal Minds, Bones, Weeds, The Closer, Carnivale, StarTrek Enterprise, NYPD Blue, Murder One, Seinfeld, PBS’s Tales of the City. Feature films include: On-Line, Primary Suspect, Falling Down, and Waterworld, amongst others, which enable him financial fluidity to create his, not necessarily for-profit, performance art.

David Schweizer has been developing and directing original theater, opera, and performance work both nationally and internationally for nearly forty years now—beginning with his notorious New York debut inaugurating the Joseph Papp regime at Lincoln Center with Troilus and Cressida in 1974. He has directed in every major American regional theater and extensively in New York City with new plays and musical works such as Charles Mee’s Wintertime at Second Stage, Lisa Loomer’s The Waiting Room at the Vineyard Theater, and Rinde Eckert’s Horizon at New York Theater Workshop. More recently, he has directed in such opera theaters as the Boston Lyric Opera (Emperor of Atlantis, Verdi’s Macbetto), Glimmerglass Festival (Stephen Hartke’s The Greater Good), New York City Opera at Lincoln Center (Sir Richard Rodney Bennett’s The Mines of Sulphur), Long Beach Opera (Powder Her Face, La Perichole, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat), and New York’s Gotham Opera (Albert Herring). He has worked with many notable solo/performance artists including of course John Fleck but also Ann Magnuson, Marga Gomez, Rachel Rosenthal, Sandra Tsing Loh, and most recently with Mike Albo (My Price Point at Performance Space 122), whose new piece The Junket will be presented next fall at Dixon Place. Schweizer has collaborated with such pivotal American experimental theater companies as Mabou Mines (It’s a Man’s World), Theater X (A History of Sexuality), and his own Modern Artists Company (Plato’s Symposium). His Obie Award–winning production of Rinde Eckert’s And God Created Great Whales was revived last season off Broadway to renewed acclaim, and his production of Tennessee Williams’s In Masks Outrageous and Austere was another noteworthy event in New York last season. Currently, his off-Broadway hit, Mark Nadler’s I’m a Stranger Here Myself has been repeatedly extended at the York Theater. Upcoming is Verdi’s Giovanna D’arco at Chicago Opera Theater.

Presented in conjunction with “NYC 1993: Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star.”

Sponsors

This program is made possible, in part, through the support of the New York State Council on the Arts and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

Education and public programs are made possible by a generous grant from Goldman Sachs Gives at the recommendation of David B. Heller & Hermine Riegerl Heller.

Support for the exhibition is provided by the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation.

Additional funding is provided by Martin and Rebecca Eisenberg, the Fundación Almine y Bernard Ruiz-Picasso para el Arte, and the Robert Mapplethorpe Photography Fund.

The accompanying exhibition publication is made possible by the J. McSweeney and G. Mills Publications Fund at the New Museum.

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