[Local events] Reminder: Sat. 5/3: Neo-Benshi Film & Poetry Cabaret

David Abel passages at rdrop.com
Mon Apr 28 00:14:27 PDT 2008

Limited seating -- reserve soon, while remaining seats are still 
available . . .


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), 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 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 to projected films 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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