Skip to content

Happy 83rd Birthday, Rachel Rosenthal! Congratulations on your new book!

December 15, 2009

According to The Los Angeles Times, “Rachel Rosenthal  bills herself simply as a performance artist. That’s about as accurate as calling the Taj Majal a house. The woman is a monument and a marvel. She is a force of nature…She is timeless, ageless, gutsy, quirky, exotic, potentially poignant.”

Back when I was in grad school at the University of Nevada Reno, Rachel Rosenthal came to visit. I didn’t know what to expect, but attending her performance came highly recommended by my friend Helen Jones who ran the Women’s Center. “Don’t miss it,” she said. And I was glad I didn’t. I can still feel the energy with which she filled the room, even if I don’t quite recall the particulars.

Flash forward many years later when another Helen, this one helen13, invited me to Rachel Rosenthal’s 83 birthday celebration and book release party–just in time for holiday gift giving, a perfect book for all the creative types on your list it looks like, too.

The DbD Experience: Chance Knows What It’s Doing! DbD, or “Doing by Doing” describes her signature method of teaching improvisational theater. In the 130-page book, the Obie winning performer explores improvisational theater and its relationship to life, offering a blow-by-blow account of what happens in her 34-hour DbD weekend intensive workshops (currently still happening on a bi-annual basis in Los Angeles). This mix of memoir, teaching manual, and manifesto was edited by Kate Noonan and is set for US release December 15 2009 by Routledge (ISBN 978-0-415-55102-1, http://www.routledge.com).

“Chance is the core of improvisation,” says Rosenthal when crystallizing the point of her teaching methods, “The DbD Experience is about breaking down borders, opening up to the givens, activating the moment, and paying attention to what is.”

“Wouldn’t miss it for the world,” I told her. “Unless of course I win that wine blogging contest and go to Portugal–haha!” Well wonders will never cease–I did win that wineblogging contest, went to Portugal, and was just too severely jetlagged to go to LA the day after I returned.

Fortunately, helen13 went to Rachel Rosenthal’s 83nd Birthday Bash–and wrote about it for us (with photos by lennyBruce Lee cc):

The press was dubbing it “The Cultural Event of the Year” so I was expecting an over-crowded, stuffy event to honor Rachel Rosenthal’s decades of theater and performance art. All I knew was that Rachel did performance art in the 60’s and had a shaved head.

The hosting gallery, Track 16, in the Bergamot Station, Santa Monica CA, avoided décor with just plain white walls. Half the gallery was dedicated to the works for a silent auction that benefited Rosenthal Company’s TOHUBOHU! This new performance troupe, bills itself as an “Extreme Theater Ensemble” where nothing is scripted, rehearsed or repeated.

The event also premièred her new book The DbD Experience – Chance Knows What it’s Doing!, a mix of memoir, philosophical musing, and teaching manual. Here she explored improvisational theater and its relationship to
life, offering a blow-by-blow account of what happens in her DbD weekend intensive workshops.

Among the 83 pieces were works by John Baldessari, Mike Kelley, Robert Rauschenberg, Lita Albuquerque, Eleanor Antin, Judy Baca, Ed Moses and June Wayne. A Ed Ruska was going for $1,000; a happy celebrant won a large painting by The Unknown Heartist, for only $70, which several us felt was the superior piece. Many of the artists who contributed the art to the silent auction were in attendance.

Balloon sculpture, Pali X-mano, (www. pali-x-mano.com) whose works float around Burning Man and Santa Barbara Soltice, was there in his fun spattered pain over-alls, showing off his portfolio, which included a 20¹x20¹ tentacle
balloon that housed a 4-piece band.

Stand out art came from Photographer Lennybruce Lee, Llyn Foulkes collage “Letters to Rachel,” and metal and glass sculpture by George Herms.

While I never saw the Rauschenberg, I did see Clint Steinhauser’s beautiful necklace, “Rachel’s Head” which really showed the love these artists have for her and her powerful inspiration.

This was turning out to be more of a real Birthday party with people cooing over the birthday girl and chiming about her experiences with her.

There was a big cake from the Cake Divas, towering a top the 20 foot table lined with petit fours, gold sprinkled cookies, Croquembouche and chocolate cookies with handwritten ŒR¹s.

The Bar had a lovely supply of Hogarten Beer, White Cosmos and Bitch Bubbly. While Bitch, a grenache from Grateful Palate Imports, is considered by many a for the “label only” wine, the Bitch Bubbly was a lovely very dry Rose which complemented the desert table.

John Fleck MCed.  Performances of mime, vaudeville, and song included Amy Knoles from the California E.A.R. Unit and Jean Paul Monsché of the Mad Alsacians. All rich with accolades to Rachel, with her concluding, that she hoped we all had a lot of money to spend.

The receiving line was long and diverse: Rosenthal’s fame rose in the 1950s as artistic director and performer in her totally improvised “Instant Theater.” In the 1960s and 1970s, she was a pioneer in animal rights issues, and was a founder of “Womanspace,” a hotbed of feminism. Among the guests were her fellow comrades with the look of past battles in their eyes, while young students knelled down beside her with their glowing faces.

And then magically there was a break in the line. I turned to Rachel and mentioned that I just had turned 50 and it was amazing to see her here at 83. She just held my arm with both her hands, looked at me and smiled. Then I felt this great wave of energy. After a timeless moment I walked back to a chair. I sat and absorbed the whirl of joyous energy, strong enough to alter the Bitch Bubbly in my head. And I thought, Wow! does her art carry this energy across to an audience?

The evening closed with Alberto DeAlmar, playing Flaminco guitar in front of the Dosco Indian food truck, while the last of us danced and clapped.

Like The Los Angeles Times says of Rachel, “Rosenthal  bills herself simply as a performance artist. That’s about as accurate as calling the Taj Majal a house. The woman is a monument and a marvel. She is a force of nature…She is timeless, ageless, gutsy, quirky, exotic, potentially poignant.”

I believe ’em.

Happy Birthday Rachel!

Accounts of Rachel Rosenthal’s Birthday party from the Los Angeles Times and LA Weekly help to illuminate this force of nature:
http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/arts/la-et-rosenthal7-2009nov07,0,499239.story and
http://www.laweekly.com/2009-11-05/stage/rachel-rosenthal-83-and-still-swearing
as do these photos from
ARTinfo’s recent shoot:
https://www.artinfo.com/news/story/33160/rachel-rosenthal-celebrates-83-years-with-a-charity-auction
and these images by lennyBruce Lee from the birthday bash–which are shown above:
http://jalbum.net/browse/user/album/382184/

Watch this space for an upcoming review of Rachel Rosenthal’s new book, the upcoming performance in February and more. Hmmn, I wonder if I could attend one of her workshops and share that experience with you all also!

Advertisements
One Comment leave one →
  1. December 15, 2009 3:03 am

    What a fabulous lady! Happy Birthday!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

What's in that Bottle?

Better Living Through Better Wine!

ENOFYLZ

My humble wine blog

Jenny True

An excruciatingly personal food blog

foodwineclick

When food and wine click!

The Flavor of Grace

Helene Kremer's The Flavor of Grace

The Swirling Dervish

Wine Stories, Food Pairings, and Life Adventures

ENOFYLZ Wine Blog

Living La Vida Vino!

Dracaena Wines

Our Wines + Your Moments = Great Memories

L'OCCASION

a reason for wine

OkieWineGirl

A Wine Drinker Rambling about Wine

Drifting Through

Welcome to the inner workings of my mind

Sonya Huber

books, essays, etc.

THE GRAPE BELT

Drinking, Thinking, Cooking, Eating, Reading, Writing, Traveling, Talking ~ The Essentials of the Wine Life ~

The Weekly Sift

making sense of the news one week at a time

poor mexican gone

Yesterday's stories shed light on the way forward

ROCKIN RED BLOG

A Song in Every Glass

Cindy Ross

Author | Speaker

trailtraveler

Get your copy of Mile 445 today at Amazon.com!

www.KamalaThompson.com

"Where Business Meets Humanity"

Laura Grace Weldon

Free Range Learning, Creative Living, Gentle Encouragement, Big Questions, Poetry, Occasional Drollery

From Insults To Respect

A Guide To Anger And Conflict Resolution

Wes Chyrchel

Consultant · Early Stage Advisor · Project Advisor

Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

Snarky. Cheeky. Grumpy. Dopey. Never Bashful.

L'esprit de Vin

A wine blog with food for thought...

The Wine Wankers

G’day, you’re at the best wine blog ever! We're all about wine; without the wankery.

Wine Verbiage

verbiage about wine & life

Small Epiphanies

A BLOG BY G.P. WAYNE

Paul reflects therapeutically

Thoughts about writing about thinking

the drunken cyclist

I have three passions: wine, cycling, travel, family, and math.

Winehiker Witiculture

Hike. Wine. Repeat! An exploration of life's vinoambulocentricities.

Gabe Feathers McGee

poetry, stories, puffnstuff

New Earth Heartbeat

Rest in the Heart

DEAR HUMAN

These letters are written to remind you just how much you matter, just how important you are, and just how beautiful the gift of life as a human is.

SAHMmelier

Stay at home mom, lover of wine

Talk-A-Vino

Wine, food and life

%d bloggers like this: