[Local events] Saturday, May 3: Film and Poetry -- Portland-San Francisco Neo-benshi Cabaret

David Abel passages at rdrop.com
Mon Apr 21 13:55:56 PDT 2008

*Spare Room and kino21 (San Francisco) bring the first Neo-Benshi Film & 
Poetry Cabaret to Portland*

/Writers/performers from San Francisco and Portland turn down the sound 
and talk back to the movies, updating the lost art of "film-telling."

Spare Room (Portland) and kino21 (San Francisco) copresent The New 
Talkies: A Portland–San Francisco Neo-Benshi Cabaret. Inspired by the 
film-tellers, or benshis, of the silent era in Japan, neo-benshi invites 
contemporary artists to turn off the sound and perform their own scripts 
to brief scenes from films of their choosing. Previous installments of 
The New Talkies have brought together diverse audiences of poetry, 
performance, and film fans in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.


Saturday, May 3
7:00 pm

Admission $10 / $5 students

Due to limited seating, advance reservations are required:
email passages at rdrop.com or call 503-233-4562 to reserve tickets and for 
venue details

Performers include Portland-based writers and artists Leo Daedalus and 
David Abel, Maryrose Larkin and Eric Matchett, Kaia Sand, and Rodney 
Koeneke, joined by Bay Area poets and performers David Larsen, Mac 
McGinnes, Cynthia Sailers, and kino21’s Konrad Steiner.

For more information, visit the Spare Room web site at 
and kino21 at www.kino21.org.


Performer Bios and Curator's Statement

scene from Logan's Run (Michael Anderson, 1976)
Larsen is a visual artist, writer, curator and teacher, living in San 
Francisco. He co-curated the New Yipes reading series in Oakland with 
Cynthia Sailers in 2005, and solo from 2006 to January 2008. He is a 
scholar of greek and arabic literature and the author of "The Thorn" 
(Faux Press, 2005), whose first benshi performance to a scene from 
"Troy" in 2005 earned wide praise.

scene from The Passion of Jeanne D'Arc (Carl Dreyer, 1928)
Larkin is the author of Inverse (nine muses), The Book of Ocean (i.e.), 
and Whimsy Daybook 2007 (FLASH+CARD). She is coeditor (with Sarah 
Mangold) of Flash+Card, a chapbook and ephemera press. She lives in 
Portland, and is a member of the Spare Room collective. Matchett's 
recent projects include Nest and Milk Crate Madness. Labor Day, an album 
made during August 2007, can be found at www.archive.org. He is member 
of The Taken Girls and Turkey Makes Me Sleepy. Eric is currently 
creating a glitch dub album with Tape Mountain's Jake Anderson.

scene from Solaris (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1972)
Daedalus, who works in every medium except needlepoint, is the director 
of Helsinqi, a Portland design/media startup. He dons his videographer 
and performer hats for his first neo-benshi turn, and lives online at 
www.leodaedalus.com. Abel is a Portland wordsmith and gadabout, and one 
of the founding organizers of the Spare Room reading series, now in its 
seventh year. A dyed-in-the-wool Hollis Frampton fan, he was also a 
member of the Four Wall Cinema collective.

scene from Mary Poppins (Robert Stevenson, 1964)
Koeneke moved to Portland from San Francisco in 2006 and is the author 
of two books of poems, Musee Mechanique (BlazeVOX, 2006) and Rouge State 
(Pavement Saw, 2003). He has performed neo-benshi pieces for Guru Dutt's 
Bollywood weepie "Pyaasa" (1957) and Paul Wegener's silent classic "The 
Golem" (1921). He co-curates The Tangent Reading Series in Portland with 
poets Kaia Sand and Jules Boykoff.

home movie footage by William Cheney, Pacific Northwest inventor and 
machinist (ca. 1935–45)
Sand is the author of interval (Edge Books 2004), selected as a Small 
Press Traffic Book of the Year 2004, and several chapbooks through Dusie 
(www.dusie.org). She co-authored with Jules Boykoff the recently 
released Landscapes of Dissent: Guerrilla Poetry & Public Space (Palm 
Press 2008) and co-curates with Rodney Koeneke & Jules Boykoff the 
Tangent Reading Series in Portland, Oregon, where she lives.

scene from Minority Report (Stephen Spielberg, 2002)
Steiner is a filmmaker and independent curator living in San Francisco. 
His films have shown in off-multiplex screens around the world. He has 
been involved in the production of many live film narration events since 
2003 in SF, New York, and Los Angeles. He was a film programmer at SF 
Cinematheque for four years (2003-2006) and currently with Irina 
Leimbacher he co-curates the kino21 screening series in San Francisco.

scenes from The Passion of Anna (Ingmar Bergman, 1969)
Sailers lives in Alameda, California, is the author of Lake Systems 
(Tougher Disguises, 2004), and currently serves on the board of Small 
Press Traffic in San Francisco and is a former co-curator of the New 
Yipes reading series in Oakland. She is currently writing a dissertation 
on narcissism and perversion in pathological group organization for the 
Wright Institute in Berkeley, CA.

scene from "Judex" (Georges Franju, 1963)
Cole is a poet, translator, visual artist and teacher, painter living in 
San Francisco. She is the author of many books of poetry, including the 
CD-ROM "Scout" (Krupskaya, 2004) and "Collective Memory" (Poetry Center 
and Granary Press, 2006). McGinnes lives in San Francisco and has been 
involved in theater as a director and actor for many years, most 
recently working with Poets Theater productions in San Francisco. Cole 
wrote the script for the scene chosen by McGinnes, who performed it 
first in July 2005 in San Francisco.


The "benshi" is the name for the accomplished actor/writer who wrote 
scripts to narrate live film in Japan, where the profession reached its 
commercial and popular apex in the 1920s, more than in any other 
country, mainly because of a prosperous and prolific Japanese film industry.

There have been many variations of talking during a movie over the 
global history of film. The long tradition behind this current wave of 
interest in the form includes hecklers in theaters, dads in living rooms 
with their home movies, professional narrators of silent documentaries, 
the reknowned film-tellers in Europe and Asia, right up to TV shows like 
Jay Ward's "Fractured Flickers" in the 1960s and "Mystery Science 
Theater" in the 1990s.

The task of accompanying silent film is usually left to musicians. It 
becomes the task of writers to silence the talkies and revive the image 
whose meaning has been controlled and even restricted by the corporate 
culture of mass entertainment and mass profit. The benshi can take back 
the cinema, and anyone with a DVD player and a remote can give it a shot.

Konrad Steiner

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