Jody Christopherson

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The So-fi Festival proudly presents the world premiere of Parlor Poems Conceived, Designed and Directed by Natalie Johnsonius Neubert at Westbeth, Home to the Arts (463 West Street, Room 1209, between Bethune and Bank St) June 8th @ 2pm & June 9th @ 330pm.

So-fi is a festival for cutting edge, low-fi, high concept, multidisciplinary solo work. Westbeth is New York City landmark listed on the National Registrar of Historic Places since Dec 8, 2009, a home to artists and major cultural organizations including the New School for Drama, The Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance, the School for Poetic Computation. The location where Parlor Poems will be performed was the location of Bell Labs’ Boardroom where the first talking movie, the condenser microphone, the first TV broadcast, and the first binary computer were demonstrated.

Parlor Poems is 
a multidisciplinary sound-experience in a Victorian-era parlor hosted posthumously the co-founder of Shakespeare and Company, Dennis Krausnick. Tea served in Victorian china and tea favors (light refreshments), are included with each ticket. 

Parlor Poems plays in rep with Lost My Train Of Thought by Tiny Box Theater,  6/8 and 6/9.

Tickets are currently on sale and will be $25 per single ticket, $36 per two-show double bill ticket. (Please note that Westbeth is handicap accessible with ramps and elevators.) Nearest trains to Westbeth are (1,2,3 to 14th Street). Tickets can be purchased at 692-7878, or in person at the box office 30 minutes prior to curtain (463 West Street, Room 1209, between Bethune and Bank St). Full performance line-up listed below. For more info and a full festival calendar please visit:

Tell us about your show? In your own words, what is it/ what is it/what is it about?

The Victorian parlor was traditionally considered to be the most elegant room in the house, and reserved for leisurely greeting important company. Parlor Poems invites audiences to return to that time. Using projections of and symbolic set pieces, the performance space will be transported to an idyllic Berkshire estate where the audience will enjoy light refreshments (tea favors and teas). Once everyone has settled into their seats, there will be an immersive sound installation of readings from Dennis Krausnick’s final book of poetry, sharing the quick wit and profound wisdom culminated from a life creating theatre in the woods of the Berkshire hills, where he spent many years living at The Mount, the opulent Victorian home of Edith Wharton. Mixing contemporary media (sound and projections) with traditional elements (food and storytelling), the division between time and geography are erased, allowing modern audiences to experience tea time under the same pretense as the Victorian aristocrats living a life of leisure. In doing so, modern audiences are able to focus on the language and timeless humanity of Mr. Krausnick’s poetry. Parlor Poems is truly an escape to a simpler time and place that is engaging to modern audiences.

What multidisciplinary elements does it include and how are they used? How are they unique?

Parlor Poems is a fully immersive experience, utilizing all of our senses from food to sound to visuals, to offer a refreshing respite from the city. Technology plays an important role in creating the atmosphere for the installation. Mixing contemporary media (sound and projections) with traditional elements (food and storytelling), the division between time and geography are erased, allowing modern audiences to experience tea time under the same pretense as the Victorian aristocrats living a life of leisure. In doing so, modern audiences are able to focus on the language and timeless humanity of Krausnick’s poetry.

Why do you make theater? Can you talk about the medium and what it lends to your work?

I like to think of theater in its simplest terms, as storytelling that creates a bond between performers and audience members. In each project, I experiment with mediums to decide which will best tell that specific story, often replacing live performances and/or literal, realistic sets and props, with sound, projections, puppetry, tastes, and smells. Using these unexpected elements, audiences are engaged as active participants, and invited to create the story with me through the lenses of their owns lives.

In choosing the stories to tell, I am very interested in people’s lives, autobiographical storytelling, and the stories we leave behind us. How are we remembered? I am fascinated by the notion that what we leave behind is really only a series of stories. Some may be more factual than others, but all open a window to what our lives are about and what has been important to us. In all of my work, I strive to provide the audience with a window into the souls of real people, people who share a common journey through the loves and losses that it means to be human. These are stories we all relate to, and that connect us to one another.

Having spent my early adult years in New York City, I relocated a few years ago to The Berkshires just a few hours north in Massachusetts. Here, I have found a very rich cultural community with some of the most important arts organizations in the United States right in my own backyard. Places like Tanglewood, Jacobs Pillow and MassMoca are an inspiring escape for artists of all backgrounds. It is a place where artists have retreated for generations – to refresh their creative palette and create new work. Dennis was the co-founder of Shakespeare & Company, one of the largest summer theatre festivals in this country, and an organization I have become closely involved with. Dennis passed away last Fall, and he left behind a beautiful constellation of artists who were touched, moved, and inspired by his life’s work. Used with the permission of his wife (and Shakespeare & Company co-founder) Tina Packer, the poems in this piece are taken from Dennis’s final book of poetry White Flash. They are equally light and entertaining, and deeply moving — snapshots of the moments that we can all relate to in our own lives. Parlor Poems gives audiences a respite to stop, breathe, and reflect on the cycles in their own lives.

NATALIE JOHNSONIUS NEUBERT is a theatre-maker, sound artist, and curator. She has worked throughout New York at such venues as Ensemble Studio Theater, The Ohio Theater, Urban Stages, The Culture Project, Performance Space 122, Galapagos Art Center, Dixon Place, The Brick Theater and with companies including Target Margin Theater and This is Not A Theatre Company, as well as in site-specific pieces created for the NY Public Library and the NY Botanical Gardens. Outside of New York, her work has also been seen and heard at Bridge Lane Theatre (London, UK), The Colonial Theatre (Pittsfield, MA), Belcourt Theatre (Nashville, TN), Chaffin’s Dinner Theatre (Nashville, TN), and at the Miami Light Project as part of the Filmgate Interactive Film Festival.  She is also the subject of a portrait in the Cathedral of the Pines series by internationally renowned fine art photographer Gregory Crewdson.  She studied acting at the British American Drama Academy and Shakespeare & Company; and received her BA and MFA from Sarah Lawrence College where she studied Theatre, Writing, Dance, and Music.  She is a member of the Actors Equity Association and the Screen Actors Guild. 

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Parlor Poems: An Interview With Natalie Johnsonius Neubert