Persephone's Children: You may be familiar with the myth of Persephone. But what about her children? The Rural Academy invites you to eavesdrop at the table of these three often overlooked siblings as they convene for an annual feast. It is the character of these three that marks the temperament of the seasons and it is in the whim of their conversation and at their table that the human story is revealed. Our collective potential for narrow-mindedness and big-heartedness, for bad puns and surprising wisdom, for startling compassion and unimaginative bigotry are all on the table. The evening was capped off by a screening of Buster Keaton's Cops with live accompaniment by The Rural Academy Orchestra.
Not For Long: In a world defined by consumer choice, our show asked: Is it the things you don't choose that make you who you are? (Where you were born, the contour & color of the land, the thickness or thinness of the air, what you see out the window, the noises you hear in the night.) How would the biography of a geographical feature read? What sort of supporting role would we humans play, if any? Are we not features of our landscape? On a geological timeline, the scale of the human presence shifts and notions of identity & belonging must be re-imagined. The Too Short To Suck Theater presents the Real Reel Small Lap Circus: An audience-manipulated mini-circus-in-a-box full of real life wonders & classic humbuggery. Sure to confound & delight. Observe the Cow: A fast-paced, two-dimensional exposé of North Carolina's pro-fracking legislation & the dairy industry. Le Voyage Dans La Lune: Georges Méliès’ 1902 silent film, appearing in hand-painted color, follows a band of bearded explorers on their destructive misadventures on the moon. Live accompaniment by the Rural Academy Orchestra.
2014 tour documentary: photographs by Nicola Krebill
Photos by Emma Brierley, HERE
The Muck Boot Banquet - 2014 - Park Hill Orchard, Easthampton, MA
A celebration of season & place. Part dance theater, part sculpture installation, part feast. Winding through an apple orchard in the stark but about-to-burst state of early spring, The Muck Boot Banquet was the harbinger of things to come. Vibrant, vivid, sharp, comic & tasty, it took the audience through a walking feast of sensations. Song, scrumptious spring victuals, flowers, extravagant hats, stories & frolicking nonsense were all on the menu! A collaboration with The Royal Frog Ballet.
For photos by Mark Dannenhauer, click HERE
By Candace Hope, HERE
By Jerry Roberts of the Gazette, HERE
The Clown of God: a large-scale toy theater adaptation of the french folk tale & Pied Noir, a wordless whodunit crime thriller as seen from the knees down, followed by a screening of Buster Keaton’s The Goat.
2013 tour documentary: Photos by Nicola Krebill
More incredible photos from the tour HERE
On Second Thought: A layering of puppetry, prose, mathematical instruction, dance & history lesson. It examined the 200- year-old English Luddite uprisings, the scientific/ moral complexities surrounding the work of Nikola Tesla & the invention of the shovel to better understand the human need to create & call into question the value of innovation. Followed by a screening ofBuster Keaton’s The High Sign & Ladislaw Starewicz’ 1912 film The Cameraman’s Revenge as viewed on our very own bicycle powered projector & accompanied by The Rural Academy Orchestra.
2012 tour documentary: photographs by nicola krebill
SUNNU Documental - 2011
Set to be released in in the spring of ’15!!! SUNNU is a feature-length documentary directed by Teresa Camou Guerrero examining the various narratives of maize in Mexico & the role of indigenous farmers in Mexico’s food sovereignty movement. Gabriel & Noah worked with Teresa Camou Guerrero & Aldo Hernandez to create an action-packed, futuristic animated short complete with lasers, explosions & zombie veggies. To be released separately.
For more pictures of this project, click HERE
The Real Reel Small Lap Circus - June, 2011 – Banners and Cranks Theater Festival, HERE Theater – NYC
The Brothers Harrell teamed up with musicians Lily Paulina, Erin Bell & Hannah Temple to present the world’s littlest big top to stunned NYC audiences. Each audience member operated their very own miniature cranky circus accompanied by an intensely complicated instruction manual & set of confounding aural cues.
WALLS AND WOLVES - 2010 – Juming Sculpture Museum, Taiwan
Built by Gabriel Harrell, Federica Collina, Teresa Camou Guerrero & Jason Hicks, this interactive sculpture installation built during a typhoon on Taiwan’s North shore addressed indigenous land rights & included a 50’ violin, refugee populations hurried along via a bamboo conveyor belt & packs of hungry, business suited wolves, all surrounded by a 100’ back-lit painting.
See the photos HERE
The Tale of the Hungry Mouths: A Soup Opera - 2010 – Washington D.C.
A candlelight observance on six stages. The Brothers Harrell dished up an evening of culinary storytelling following the goings-on in six locations as themes of hunger & affluence were examined & beans were cooked.
Served hot. Bring your own bowl.
Chihuahua International Theater Festival - 2010 - Mexico, with Teatro Indigena de La Sierra Tarahumara
In a rare urban performance, the indigenous farmers’ theater of Northern Mexico joined indigenous performers from across the country to tackle such issues as seed sovereignty, genetically modified corn & cultural stewardship. Done with giant flags, stilting birds, two-dimensional populations & cardboard charisma.
For photos, click HERE
The Too Short to Suck Cabaret - 2009 – Jalopy Theater and The Market Hotel – NYC
A quasi-puppet cabaret of disparate & desperate material, served alongside violinist Craig Judelman’s old- time Appalachian klezmer band. Reeling between Victorian prose, vaudeville schtick & gland humor, the Brothers Harrell staged an evening of ultra low-tech, incredibly janky, lowbrow entertainment. Nothing to write home about. Especially to your mother.
Check out photos HERE
Miniature Luxury Accordion Box Menagerie Peepshow Spectacular presents The Clown of God - 2009-2010
Voice 4 Vision Puppetry Festival, NYC and Great Small Works Toy Theater Festival, St. Ann’s Warehouse –NYC
Two audience members at a time climbed under a black cloak & were privy to a miniature theatre spectacle. The entire show took place within the confines of an old accordion case, where the audience was led into the shadowy world of the show’s twenty-some characters, low-tech theater appliances & janky noise apparatus.
While most theater aspires to grow bigger & bigger, the “Clown of God” seems to get smaller & smaller, taking its audience to a place where scale loses its ordinary significance & perspective ceases to function smoothly. Ms. Camou Guerrero and Mr. Harrell performed the “Clown of God” in living rooms in New York, cloakrooms in Athens, bazaars in Bursa, kitchens in Istanbul, sailboats on the Nile, dining rooms in Alexandria and Cairo, cafes in southern India, basements in Rajasthan, soup kitchens in Prague, bathrooms in Romania & roof tops in the Himalaya.
The show was created in the summer of ’07 by Teresa Camou Guerrero, Noah Harrell & Gabriel Harrell.
See Photos HERE
Sin Maiz, No Es Paiz - 2009 – Parade Design, Mexico City
The Brothers Harrell teamed up with Teresa Camou Guerrero to design & build a rollicking parade through downtown Mexico City to protest the construction of GMO testing facilities across the country. The parade ended in a concert given by Guillermo Velasquez Y Los Leones de la Sierra de Xichu.
See Pictures HERE
Teatro Indigena de La Sierra Tarahumara - 2006- 2010 – Chihuahua, Mexico
For four years Gabriel & Noah assisted this landmark theater in the staging of their original work. Teatro Indigena is an indigenous farmer’s theater in North Mexico, performing original theater in the remote Sierra Tarahumara.
For photos, click HERE
County Lines Old Time Radio Drama - 2007 – 2009 – Burgaw, NC
Who are we? Why are we here? What will be the long-term socio/cultural effects of our dependency on liver pudding & grits? Such was the material explored in COUNTY LINES, an original, live radio drama performed alongside the SAND HILL GOSPEL CHOIR. A quilting together of tales both tall & taller collected from across Pender County in Southeastern North Carolina & brought to life by the diverse cast of characters who claimed to have lived them.
Mother Courage and Her Children - 2006 – Savannah, GA
Woyzeck - 2006 – Bard College, NY
WORKSHOPS & EDUCATION
The Rural Academy Theater has collaborated with the Pender Arts Council to bring puppetry workshops to schools throughout Pender County. They have conducted workshops at Heide Trask, Pender High School & Topsail High School. They also facilitate workshops with communities en route as part of their fall horse pulled tour.