Kari Margolis and Tony Brown are busy folks. As co-artistic directors of an international touring company based in Highland Lake, NY, the pair has presented theatrical events here in the Upper Delaware valley in the past, but never on such a grand scale as they plan this weekend in their production at the NACL Theatre, “Pulling String.” Margolis and Brown have mounted some of their original productions in a variety of exotic locales, including Barcelona, Berlin, London, Singapore and Narrowsburg, NY.
When asked how the company wound up in Sullivan County, Margolis reminisced about her childhood and summers spent in the region with her grandparents. “The lure of the area has always been in the back of my mind,” she said, “and living here has been a lifelong dream. We felt drawn here and literally fell in love with the river, the area and the people. When the company first took up residency in Sullivan County, we had no idea how integrated we would become with the community.”
As Artists in Residence at the Brooklyn Arts and Culture Association from 1985 to 1990, the Margolis Brown Adaptors Company (MBAC) created four original productions there, and then relocated the operation to Minneapolis, MN in 1993, where they continued to create and produce multimedia theatre productions and trained actors in the Margolis Method for over 12 years. Then they moved the company entirely and established their international training center in Sullivan County.
“There are so many wonderful people here,” Margolis said. “We love being in an area where people are committed to being an active part of the community, and now our ‘Army of Artists’ are everywhere.”
As an extension of the work these actors do while pursuing specialized training at the Margolis Method Center , the website (www.armyofartists.biz/ ) indicates that “along with being reliable, courteous and hardworking, we are highly skilled and can travel anywhere within an hour of Barryville, NY to help with carpentry, pet sitting, house cleaning, yard work and more.”
Meanwhile, the company is hard at work preparing to dazzle audiences at NACL (www.nacl.org ) this weekend with its newest production, “Pulling Strings,” which has been in workshop development for over two years. “We generally don’t have a title until we are months into the process,” Margolis said, “and all of our work stems from a question. This time, the questions presented themselves: why do we, as humans, strive for perfection? Are we being manipulated by outside forces? What is perfection and do we lose a little of our humanity when we lose sight of ourselves? Life sometimes is almost like a human puppet show.”
This show promises to be unlike anything experienced before. “We are committed to develop our skill set to be new, provocative and engaging. Our goal is always to be different and never afraid to be entertaining. We do not create a single thing without taking the audience into consideration. Whether you leave the theatre laughing, crying or even confused, we promise that you will be thinking about the experience for a long time to come. Our shows are designed to be thought about long after it’s over. We can promise that you will not be bored,” said Margolis.
All of the actors in the company live here full time, but “Pulling Strings” is the first opportunity the company has had to collaborate with NACL. “We are thrilled to have this affiliation with our neighbors,” said Margolis. “The interest has always been there and between the theatre’s new grant award, and the timing, everything just fell into place. This production is on a fairly grand scale and we needed the actual space to be large enough for us. We have loved performing at the Tusten in Narrowsburg, but ‘Pulling Strings’ needed even more room than that theatre could provide.”
When asked to sum up what theatre goers can expect from the show, Margolis paused for a moment. “Musical, lyrical, visceral and poetic are words that spring to mind,” she said. With an original soundtrack and six actors in tow, this production promises to be “theatrical, moody and funny” as well. “The NACL is tremendous, and we’re excited to present the work to our community. This piece has been years in the making, and we only get one shot at an opening night. This is fabulous—and audiences are in for quite a ride!”
“Pulling Strings” will be performed at NACL in Highland Lake on Saturday and Sunday, September 8 and 9. For reservations and information, visit nacl.org or call 845/557-0694.