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The best in contemporary theatre and dance is available in Easton through the New Horizons subscription package in the 2000-01 Performance Series at Lafayette College’s Williams Center for the Arts.

The New Horizons Series starts with multiple Obie Award-winner Eric Bogosian’s one-man show, Wake Up and Smell the Coffee, at 8 p.m. on Friday, September 8. Wake Up and Smell the Coffee is a meditation on making it to the top of the ladder, on falling off the ladder, and on the exhilarating thrill of the ultimate crash and burn. It is directed by Jo Bonney. The New York Times called Wake Up and Smell the Coffee “irresistibly watchable,” and the New York Post dubbed it “dazzlingly funny,” as Bogosian “displays all the rambunctious energy and rebel spirit of his more youthful works [with] wit as venomous as ever, his material even more devastating and polished than ever.” Those unfamiliar with Bogosian’s writings or performance works should imagine a high-octane brew, mixing equal parts of Jerry Seinfeld, Woody Allen, and the late Lenny Bruce: stream-of-consciousness profiles of American life that are powerfully funny, disarmingly truthful, and irresistibly engaging, both as theater and as essays on the American psychic landscape. “I write about those things I can’t figure out,” Bogosian has said. “Then I slam one character up against the next and hope that some kind of meditation will evolve. Provocation in the guise of a good time.”

Tickets for Bogosian’s September 8 performance cost $15 and may be purchased by calling the Williams Center box office at 610-330-5009. The performance contains adult language and situations, and discretion is advised.

Bogosian grew up in suburban Woburn, Massachusetts, the grandson of Armenian immigrants. He played a variety of roles while attending Oberlin College in Ohio, then moved to New York and settled into the late Joseph Papp’s Public Theatre. There he premiered Talk Radio, a full-length, full-cast play in which he wrote for himself the part of abrasive radio host Barry Champlain. Bogosian has become universally acclaimed both for his theater writings and his bristling performance skills as a solo actor. In addition to Talk Radio, he is the author of subUrbia, for Lincoln Center Theater, and Griller, for Chicago’s Goodman Theatre, as well his three Obie Award-winning solos, Drinking in America, Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll, and Pounding Nails in the Floor with my Forehead. He wrote the screen adaptations of his first two plays, receiving the Berlin Film Festival’s Silver Bear for his work on Talk Radio. As an actor, Bogosian has appeared in over a dozen feature films. He is best known for starring as the misanthropic “shock-jock” Barry Champlain in Oliver Stone’s film version of his own Talk Radio. In the past few years, he has appeared in films as disparate as Jon Robin Baitz’s The Substance of Fire, Woody Allen’s Deconstructing Harry, and the HBO movie A Bright Shining Lie. A live recording of Pounding Nails in the Floor with my Forehead was recently released on CD by the Blackbird Recording Company.

The New Horizons subscription series continues with two performances of the new hip-hop adaptation of Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story by Philadelphia dancer-choreographer Rennie Harris, entitled Rome & Jewels, on October 2 and 3. Staged by Harris’s PureMovement dance troupe and guest artists from theatre, music, and poetry backgrounds, Rome & Jewels features hip-hop, rap, and spoken word. This work also contains adult language. Three other modern dance performances round out the series: On November 3, solo dancer-choreographer Molissa Fenley will return to the Williams Center in a new evening of collaborations, which will include live music by African “kora” phenomenon Foday Musa Suso, poetry by Joy Harjo, and sculptural designs by Carol Hepper, whose work will be featured in a Williams Center gallery exhibition concurrent with the Fenley residency. On February 6, the Garth Fagan Dance Company will present UsAfrica, with music written by Wynton Marsalis, and on March 6, the Guangdong Dance Company of China visits for its East Coast debut tour.

The price of New Horizons is $69, an $11 savings off the total cost of the individual performances.

All performances begin at 8 p.m. Subscribers are given priority seating; those who renew by August 18, 2000 are guaranteed to keep the seats they had for the same series last year. Single ticket orders for any of these concerts will be filled beginning August 21. Tickets for a series or individual event may be ordered by calling the box office at 610-330-5009.

The 2000-2001 Performance Series at Lafayette College is sponsored, in part, by grants from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Mid Atlantic Foundation for the Arts. The four dance performances in the New Horizons series benefit from special underwriting from the National Dance Project, with major funding from the Doris Duke Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, and administered by the New England Foundation for the Arts.

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