Playwright and performer Heather Woodbury has forged a unique form which combines the immediacy of performance art with the narrative structure and characterizations of a novel. What Ever (Faber and Faber/FSG, 2003), her critically acclaimed first "living novel," was a ten-hour solo piece which toured the U.S. and Europe and was adapted as a radio play hosted by Ira Glass.
Woodbury's second "living novel" is a collision of life-stories from New York and Los Angeles spun into an epic mix by a young Echo Park DJ named Manny mourning his grandmother's death. Tale of 2Cities (published by Semiotext(e)), incorporates generations of interwoven characters on both coasts, flashing back to 1957 when the Brooklyn Dodgers abandoned one neighborhood and, in LA, another was lost to make way for the transplanted team's new stadium. From the rise of Senator McCarthy to the fall of New York's Twin Towers, Manny's mix vividly summons a lost universe of lives otherwise erased, in a style that owes as much to DJ Shadow as John Steinbeck.
A fully staged version of Tale of 2Cities is currently enjoying a bicoastal premiere. The UCLA Live production (running from Sept. 30 - Oct. 8) has been met with glowing praise. Variety proclaimed it "a reminder of what a vibrant and endlessly inventive thing theater can be -- a phantasmagoria of dramatic and structural ambition," while the Los Angeles Times deemed it "breathtakingly expansive" with "a scale that bears comparison to the titanic undertakings of Anna Deavere Smith and Tony Kushner." Tale of 2Cities will take the stage at PS 122 in New York City from Oct. 12 - Oct. 29.