in 2004 by Andy Arden Reese and Jessica Bess Lanius, Theatre LILA is
dedicated to challenging the audience’s experience of theater
by fusing theater, dance, music, and multi media into a total theater
experience. Based in the European tradition of ensemble and through
their unique rehearsal process of integrating physical storytelling
with text, LILA bridges the gap between what is visually exciting
and emotionally alive.
Reese and Lanius met while in the Graduate Acting Program of Mason
Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. They found in each
other a kindred vision of a theater vibrantly alive with heightened
physicality, emotional depth, and imaginative storytelling possibility,
and worked together on numerous projects. Upon graduation, MFAs
in pocket, they went on their individual ways exploring their visions
in their own theater companies.
Lanius’ theater company The Wake Up Artists was born out of
Lanius’ passion for combining text with movement; developing
the collaboration between modern dance and theater. In 2003, after
a year of an investigative exploration process with her company,
her original work Shakespeare’s Women: Under the Corset was
produced at the American Theater of Actors in New York City. At
the same time, Andy Arden Reese’s theater company JOS was
created with the vision of exploring the power and form of theatrical
storytelling in all its incarnations – finding the innovation
and poetry between movement, words, images and emotions. What began
as an actor’s lab of experimentation grew into a full-scale
production of Goethe’s Faust in 2003 at the Blue Heron Arts
Center in New York City.
the process of developing these two projects, Arden Reese and Lanius
became confidants – conversation became collaboration –
collaboration became collusion! And with it, the realization that
what could be done individually would be more powerful as a team.
Arden Reese and Lanius merged their individual companies and Theatre
LILA was born.
Theatre LILA launched its inaugural season at the American Theater
of Actors with a rotating repertory featuring Arden Reese’s
sexy interpretation of August Strindberg’s Miss Julie and
Lanius’ new dance theater exploration of American consumerism
in The Waltz of Elementary Particles.
LILA is dedicated to creating a working laboratory to explore, experiment,
and expand a diverse theatrical vocabulary to bring its productions.
To this end, along with the LAB series, LILA holds annual retreats
for company development. These extended retreats take place in collaboration
with the Mystic Paper Beasts Theater Company who donates their rehearsal
space - the Dragon’s Egg - to Theatre LILA in the countryside
of Ledyard, CT. These retreats have given company members the opportunity
to come together and develop seed ideas and projects in a deeply
LILA is also committed to stimulate and excite modern audiences
in the theater. LILA has therefore established a symposium series
in conjunction with Rutgers University. Through this series, university
students attend performances and talk back sessions with the artists
involved in the work. Through these intimate conversations, keener
insights are made about the nature of theater and its potential
with contemporary audiences. In 2006, these symposiums expanded
to include high school students, and LILA expects they will continue
to expand to involve as wide an audience demographic as possible.