SAN FRANCISCO, CA, April 30, 2004 – American Conservatory Theater’s Young Conservatory (YC) presents Ladies of the Canyon: The Music of Joni Mitchell, created and directed by YC Director Craig Slaight, with musical direction by Krista Wigle and musical arrangements by Naomi Sanchez. Ladies of the Canyon is made possible by a major grant from the SBC Foundation. This world premiere production will open June 5 at 7:30 p.m. and run through June 19, with two preview performances June 4 at 7:30 p.m. and June 5 at 2 p.m. All performances will be held at Zeum Theater at Yerba Buena Gardens, located at the corner of Fourth and Howard streets in San Francisco (parking is available at the Fifth and Mission garage). Tickets are $7.50–$15, and are available by calling 415.749.2228, online at www.act-sf.org, or at the door.
Ladies of the Canyon features an all-female cast performing 24 classic Joni Mitchell songs, including “Both Sides Now,” “Big Yellow Taxi,” “Help Me,” “Woodstock,” “Free Man in Paris,” and “The Circle Game.” Singing solo and in full ensemble, the cast will address some of Mitchell’s most emotionally complex work. The piece contains no spoken text, and each song constitutes its own dramatic scene.
"I was drawn to Joni Mitchell by her immense skills as a musician and poet,” says Slaight. “She takes her listeners on a youthful journey of exploration and reflection, all the while infusing her songs with an intense, compact emotional life. Her music is universal, ageless, and the perfect source for dramatic interpretation.”
Slaight and Wigle developed Ladies of the Canyon with special permission from Joni Mitchell as part of the YC’s New Plays Program. This program has focused on creating theatrical explorations of the works of contemporary composers with the goal of creating pieces that look at the world through youthful eyes. Prior works created for this series include Dangling Conversations: The Music of Simon and Garfunkel and last season’s Forever Young: The Music of Bob Dylan, which was staged at Zeum Theater and at London’s prestigious National Theatre.
Joni Mitchell has remained at the forefront of singer/songwriters since the 1960s. Born in Fort Macleod, Alberta, Canada, she taught herself the guitar and became a favorite on the regional folk scene. After marrying Chuck Mitchell in 1965, Mitchell moved to Detroit, Michigan. There her marriage soon fell apart, but her career took a giant leap forward, taking her to New York City and the top of the Greenwich Village folk scene, along with her contemporary, Bob Dylan. In 1967 she recorded her self-titled debut album, produced by David Crosby of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. She followed this up with Clouds, Ladies of the Canyon, and her landmark album Blue. Commercial success eluded her until the 1970s when she recorded her first hit single, “You Turn Me On, I’m a Radio.” A string of successful albums followed, including Court and Spark, Miles of Aisles, The Hissing of Summer Lawns, and Hejira, considered by many to be her masterpiece. The next stage in her career found Mitchell developing a style that included not only folk but also jazz, rock, and world music. While many fans disapproved of her migration away from her folk roots, she won a new generation of admirers with her 1994 GRAMMY®-winning album, Turbulent Indigo. Mitchell has won a total of five GRAMMY® awards, was the recipient of the 2002 Recording Academy® Lifetime Achievement and the Billboard Century awards, and is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. A multi-talented artist, Mitchell has focused increasingly in recent years on her painting.
The ensemble of Ladies of the Canyon features both seasoned Young Conservatory performers and those making their Zeum Theater debut. The cast includes Dillan Arrick of San Francisco, a freshman at San Francisco University High School; Adde Bigelow of San Francisco, a junior at French American International High School; Hannah Finnie of Berkeley, a sophomore in the Berkeley Independent Studies program; Lucia Grahamjones of Berkeley, a junior at Berkeley High School; Sarah Grandin of San Francisco, a sophomore at San Francisco University High School; Emily Iscoff-Daigian of San Francisco, a junior at The Urban School; Scout Katovich of Oakland, a freshman at College Preparatory School; Julia Mattison of San Francisco, a freshman at San Francisco University High School; Rachel Rubenstein of San Francisco, a sophomore at Lick-Wilmerding High School; and Charlotte Ubben of San Francisco, a freshman at Drew College Preparatory School. The set design is by Dean Shibuya; the lighting design is by A.C.T. Lighting Design Associate Kimberly J. Scott. Charles Filipov is the assistant director.
The A.C.T. Young Conservatory offers a broad range of theater training for young people aged 8 to 19. The four sessions offered throughout the year are designed to develop talent and creativity, as well as communication and cooperation skills for young people with all levels of theater background. Working professional actors and directors lead students in a spectrum of classes, including acting, directing, voice and speech, musical theater, audition, and improvisation. Call 415.439.2444 for applications and information.
A.C.T.’s second stage at Zeum Theater, a venue distinct from the Geary Theater, is dedicated to the development of new works, new forms, and new artists. A.C.T.@Zeum was launched in October 2001 with the A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) Program’s first-ever staging of Marc Blitzstein’s No for an Answer, directed by A.C.T. Artistic Director Carey Perloff. This unprecedented community partnership gives A.C.T. an additional stage for readings, workshops, rehearsals, and other aspects of new play and production development and is the current home for the Young Conservatory New Plays Program.
PHOTO EDITORS, PLEASE NOTE: New images of Joni Mitchell are now available on the A.C.T. Web site, www.act-sf.org. Thank you.
CALENDAR EDITORS PLEASE NOTE:
THE A.C.T. YOUNG CONSERVATORY PRESENTS
Ladies of the Canyon: The Music of Joni Mitchell
Created and directed by Craig Slaight
Musical direction by Krista Wigle
Music adaptation by Naomi Sanchez
June 4 at 7:30 p.m. and June 5 at 2 p.m.
June 5 at 7:30 p.m.
June 6, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 16, 17, 18, and 19 at 7:30 p.m.
June 6, 12, 13, and 19 at 2 p.m.
Audience exchange to follow all matinees.
Location: Zeum Theater at Yerba Buena Gardens, at the corner of Howard and Fourth streets. (Parking is available at the Fifth and Mission garage.)
Tickets: $15 general admission; $12 A.C.T. subscribers; $10 students, full-time teachers, and seniors, with valid ID; $7.50 for student rush tickets, available at the door on the night of the performance. Tickets can be purchased in advance through the Geary Theater Box Office, 405 Geary Street, 415.749.2228, or online at www.act-sf.org (no discounts available online). Cash-only tickets can also be purchased at the door on the night of the performance.
Scott Walton (415) 439-2362; firstname.lastname@example.org
Jon Wolanske (415) 439-2418; email@example.com
Copyright © 2004 American Conservatory Theater. All rights reserved.
(Contributed by Mike in San Francisco)