Stoop is Verb is the culmination of over a decade of Oliver Lake’s creative work and residencies with City of Asylum on Pittsburgh’s Northside. Combining the community’s voices and talent, Stoop is a Verb will feature spoken word, poetry, music, and dance performance that captures the vitality and culture of life on the far side of the Allegheny River.
Saxophonist, poet and composer Oliver Lake‘s artistic vision remains daring, unique and uncompromising, helping him maintain his place as one of the preeminent saxophonists in the progressive jazz scene, a position he has long held during his long and storied career. Oliver continues to work with several brilliant and creative minds, such as his Organ Quartet and Big Band groups, the World Saxophone Quartet, Tarbaby and notable collaborators such as Flux String Quartet, Myra Melford, Roscoe Mitchell, Vijay Iyer, Geri Allen, Meshell Ndegeocello and many others.Oliver has curated and participated in the City Of Asylum’s Jazz Poetry concerts for more than ten years. Lake has been a recipient of the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship, has received commissions from the Library of Congress, and in 2006, was honored to receive the Mellon Jazz Living Legacy Award at the Kennedy Center. Most notably, Oliver was recently selected to receive the prestigious 2014 Doris Duke Artist Award. As such, the coming years promise to be exciting and filled with bold new artistic endeavors.
With a rich history of artistic investigations and performances on Pittsburgh’s Northside, Attack Theatre is thrilled to work with Oliver Lake and City of Asylum on Stoop is a Verb. Acclaimed Pittsburgh actors Monteze Freeland, Adrienne Wehr and Kelsey Robinson with read Oliver Lake’s rich text and lyrics; with dancers Simon Phillips and Michele de la Reza interpreting the ideas and images through movement.
Founded in 1994 as a collaboration between two dancers and a city, Attack Theatre fuses modern dance, original live music, and interdisciplinary art forms to create passionate portrayals of everyday life. Under the artistic direction of Co-Founders and Co-Artistic Directors, Peter Kope and Michele de la Reza, the company has produced over 250 original works in theatrical and site specific settings, collaborating with symphony orchestras, theater companies, and art museums throughout the region. While maintaining a loyal audience in Pittsburgh, they have toured extensively across the U.S. and the world, including at the Avignon Festival (France), the 7th Next Wave Dance Festival (Japan), the Indonesian Arts Festival, Monaco Danses Forum, and the Spoleto Festival.
Whether in theaters, street corners, or classrooms, Attack Theatre believes that movement is an essential part of living and learning. The company conducts residencies in universities, primary and secondary schools, arts festivals and community centers for thousands of students and community members each year. Attack Theatre’s programs focus on demystifying the artistic process and building community. www.attacktheatre.com
Michele de la Reza (Dancer)
Michele de la Reza is Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Attack Theatre, now celebrating their 24th season. Prior to founding Attack Theatre with her partner, Peter Kope, Michele danced with Pittsburgh based Dance Alloy (Mark Taylor, Artistic Director) and was a founding company member of NYC based Perks DanceMusicTheatre (Rebecca Stenn, Artistic Director), creating and touring new works throughout the US with both companies for seven years. Together with Peter Kope, Michele is the recipient of three Pennsylvania Council on the Arts fellowships, Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch” in 2007 and the Hardie Educator of the Year award.
As an advocate of kinesthetic learning strategies in the classroom, Michele is a guiding force behind Attack Theatre’s robust arts education programming, which includes residencies and performances for students and professional development for teachers and administrators.
Michele received her BFA in Dance from The Juilliard School and a Master’s of Science in Developmental Movement from the University of Pittsburgh. She is an Associate Teaching Professor of Dance at Carnegie Mellon University.
Monteze Freeland* (Performer)
Monteze Freeland is a multi-disciplined artist who has made Pittsburgh his artistic home for the past 12 years. In 2017 Mr. Freeland was named the Pittsburgh Performer of the Year by the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Selected acting credits include; Hamlet (Pittsburgh Public), A Christmas Story (Bricolage), East Texas Hot Links, The Piano Lesson and Gem of The Ocean (Pittsburgh Playwrights), Wild With Happy (City Theatre) and Dreamgirls (PMT). Directing credits include; Mark Souther’s Miss Julie, Clarissa and John (Pittsburgh, North Carolina, Edinburgh,Scotland), I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings (Prime Stage), In The Heat of The Night, Christmas Star, King Henley II, Fences, The Gospel Singer, Kalopsia The Musical, Hairspray and The Addams Family for PCLO’s Academy. Up next: City Theatre’s Young Playwrights Festival (Director). *Member Actors Equity Association
Simon A. Phillips (Dancer)
A recent transplant from Atlanta, Georgia, Simon began dancing with Attack Theatre in 2017. Simon graduated from Kennesaw State University with a Bachelors degree in Psychology and Dance. He has worked with notable dance companies such as Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company, Augusto Soledade Brazzdance, Kennesaw State University Dance Company, Bill T. Jones/ Arnie Zane Dance Company, and William Forsythe. His career has taken him all over the United States, including New York, Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, Washington D.C., and now Pittsburgh.
Kelsey Robinson (Performer)
Kelsey Robinson is a Brooklyn-born, rustbelt-reared performance artist. After studying at Point Park University, Kelsey worked a downtown, NYC circuit backup dancing for avant garde sweetheart, Breedlove and international recording artist, Lenka; starring in art videos; workshopping contemporary musicals with Glitter Kitty Productions; lending her voice to experimental operas with collaborator Richard Kennedy; and operating large-scale, bunraku puppets with The Hudson Vagabond Puppets.
In Pittsburgh, Kelsey has joined Bricolage Production Company in multiple immersive productions (DODO, The Forest of Everywhere, The Clearing), as well as a storyteller in Wordplay. She is both an actor and teaching artist with Quantum Theater in Pittsburgh Public Schools and City Theater. As a founding member of FolkLab she co-created Femme and will be leading an end-of-year residency at Aftershock Theater, exploring narratives of multiracial identity through devised theater and fusing ancestral heritages of the ensemble members in music, dance and food!
She is the recipient of an Opportunity Fund grant for her project Talking with Ghosts About Freedom, which sets out to traverse the nation by bicycle along the Underground Railroad Trail. Kelsey is a member of the Kelly Strayhorn’s National Performance Network Host Committee and the Cultural Trust’s Community Leaders Advisory Committee.
Adrienne Wehr* (Performer)
Adrienne Wehr is a multi-disciplinary artist. Her most recent original work—In the Company of Ghosts—a performance art collaboration with Frank Ferraro—received its World Premiere in 2017 at New Hazlett Theatre (http://www.inthecompanyofghosts.com/). She served as producer/performer for the critically acclaimed, award-winning indie film The Bread, My Sweet and web series Dog Bytes, honored as one of the Best Web Series of 2015 at Cannes 2016 (https://www.youtube.com/user/dogbytestheseries). Other film/TV credits found at https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0917606/ including a decade as Associate Producer of Emmy Award-winning Mister Rogers Neighborhood. Theatre credits include: The Angels of Swedenborg (Ping Chong); The Mercy Seat, Death and the Maiden, Without Ruth, Inky (OTW); Chicks with Dicks (Bricolage); Becky’s New Car (The REP); Women Beware Women, Cheapside (UnSeam’d Shakespeare Co); The Ghost Sonata, Camino Real, The Royal Family, Laura, The Skin of Our Teeth (The Acting Company); Dracula (City Theatre); world premieres of Take a Letter, Gravity + Grace. Marathons. She performed/produced theatre productions for La MaMa ETC in NYC and was founding producer/host of long-running theatrical cabaret The Dark Night Series for City Theatre. *Member Actors Equity Association.