AGAINST THE GRAIN:
THE LIFE & TIMES OF LEVI FISHER AMES
BY EDWARD MORGAN &
DANCEWORKS PERFORMANCE COMPANY & THEATRE MXT
Levi Fisher Ames was a self-taught woodcarver, a Civil War veteran who carved a menagerie of real and mythical animals and took his show on the road. This is a story told through theatre, dance and film, imagining Levi on his last day, reliving memories of his homecoming, family, showmanship and his fantastical relationship with the animals he created. Comic and tragic, poetic and strange, Against the Grain explores an artist’s world, a family, mortality and old-time Wisconsin entertainment.
Against the Grain is a Dream-Like Peek into the Mind of an Artist.
"Dance, theatre and film meet in … a play in which memories, fantasies and reality are intertwined. ….John Kishline is brilliant as a dying, delirious Levi Fisher Ames. …The dances are unique and striking…The writing takes a backseat to the dancing most of the time with a few notable exceptions, during which the script truly shines.
– The Shepherd Express
"The inspiration may be the life and home-carved menagerie of a largely unknown Wisconsin 19th century woodcarver …but director Edward Morgan and actor John Kishline looked deeper. … (The play is) illuminated by Kym McDaniel’s rear screen projections in an almost mystical focus-change filtering of words, historic images and modern dance moments. . . . Wherever we look intrigues us. Kishline(’s) intensity becomes a valuable anchoring presence as Ames confronts the demons of living and dying. Choreographer Kuepper, also Danceworks’ artistic director, has concocted a sinewy individualized world of movement and interrupted arabesques, creating group movement but distinctive personalities, with a little clog dancing thrown in."
– Urban Milwaukee
Choreography: Dani Kuepper
Film: Kym McDaniel
Lights: Rick Graham
Costumes: Lynn Kream
Set: John Kishline & Ryan Kuepper
Sound: Edward Morgan & Dani Kuepper