Announcing Peak Performances @ Montclair’s 2008/2009 Season: September 19 – May 10

Season includes fifteen music, theater and dance companies performing radically new multimedia works and important classics that span centuries

What does it mean to be alive, thinking and creating in the 21st century?

A series of breakout music, theater and dance works including nine world, U.S. and local premieres that tackle, embody and challenge current social, political and cultural issues highlight Peak Performances @ Montclair’s 2008/2009 season. In all, fifteen dramatically different groups from Belgium, Rwanda, South Africa, Japan, the U.K. and the USA are scheduled to perform at the Alexander Kasser Theater, September 19–May 10.

“First, we searched the world for the most challenging, cutting edge, border-crossing companies we could find. And then, we priced our tickets at $15.00 apiece to encourage a broad and adventurous audience to share the experience,” said Peak Performances Executive Director Jedediah Wheeler. “The cost of a ticket should not deter, but rather pique curiosity and inspire the courage to take a risk.”

What follows are brief descriptions of the scheduled works loosely categorized by discipline, “loosely” because many are category-resistant such as DV8 Physical Theatre’s “To Be Straight With You,” which could arguably be dance and/or theater. Ditto Japan’s Dumb Type’s “Voyage,” which could additionally be considered a work of visual art.


The season opens September 19 with a music spectacular: the World/Inferno Friendship Society’s tri-state premiere of “Addicted to Bad Ideas: Peter Lorre’s 20th Century.” Using Lorre as the archetype of 20th century alienation, “Addicted to Bad Ideas” integrates live, interactive video with memorable moments from Lorre films and the group’s original, driving score to create a multimedia, punk rock operetta that embodies the existential spirit of the last century.

Steve Reich’s music has accumulated a greater and greater following over the years, perhaps none more so than his now-classic, four-part “Drumming,” a hypnotic work for four percussionists. Sõ Percussion, which performs the hour-long piece at Kasser on September 27, recorded the epic score on the Cantaloupe label in 2004. 

The Shanghai Quartet, the Ensemble-in-Residence at Montclair State University, as well as visiting professors at the Shanghai Conservatory and the Central Conservatory in China, presents two programs of classical repertory (Brahms, Schubert, Mozart and Debussy) as part of its Peak Performances concerts (September 28 and February 21). Most notably, however, the Quartet will present the American premiere of Krzysztof Penderecki’s “String Quartet No. 3” on its February 21 program.

Founded in 2002 to attract attention to top-level African American musicians, The Ritz Chamber Ensemble will present two concerts (October 25 and 26). Expect a wide range of sound: from Aaron Copland to Tania León to Schubert to George Walker to Beethoven to David Baker, among others. 

The Grammy Award-winning alternative rock band, They Might Be Giants, presents two shows on January 27: a matinee for kids featuring its award-winning “Here Come the ABC’s” and an evening performance for grown-ups that promises its 1990 classic “Birdhouse in Your Soul,” among other hits. 

Carla Kihlstedt, the California-based violinist and the Japan-based pianist Satoko Fujii make their east coast debut with “Minamo,” a unique post jazz series of free improvisation duets drawn from rock, Bartok and Cecil Taylor. “Minamo” is conceptually based on the duo’s 2007 CD of the same name.

Flip the musical coin and discover “Rebel” (pronounced Re-BEL) which presents “Irregular Pearls: Baroque Music from European Courts and Chambers,” a program of 17th and 18th century Italian, German and French chamber music. Currently in residence in New York City’s Trinity Church on Wall Street, Rebel was founded in the Netherlands in 1991.


Peak Performance’s theater series begins with Dumb Type’s “Voyage” (October 16–19). Brimming with riveting, digitally created imagery, physical wit, technological sophistication and visual surprises, the metaphor-ridden work poses hard questions about present and future life on this planet. Dumb Type’s productions have drawn on dance, theater, and the visual arts in equal measure since the arts collective’s creation at the University of Kyoto in 1984. Three American premieres –– Jan Fabre’s “The Orgy of Tolerance” (January 22–25); Urwintore’s “The Investigation” (February 5–9); and Joji Inc’s “Lolita” (April 3–5) –– promise to provoke in singular ways.

Using musicians, dancers and actors to create a satiric look at our P.C. culture in “The Orgy of Tolerance” (January 22–25), the Belgian director/visual artist/choreographer Jan Fabre creates absurd sketches to bring our “tolerance” down to earth through laughter that chokes.

The Rwanda-based theater company Urwintore makes its American debut with Peter Weiss’s “The Investigation” (February 5–8). Performed in Kinyarwanda (with English subtitles) by Urwintore and directed by Dorcy Rugamba, Weiss’s compelling 1965 play about the German Holocaust takes on universal power as it becomes a conceit for the horrifying genocide that destroyed Rwanda in 1994.

The question of why Joji Inc’s “Lolita” (April  3–5) is described as “an imaginary opera” is also a question of point of view. Although based on the Nabokov classic, Joshua Finneberg (composer), Johanne Saunier (choreographer), Kurt d’Haeseleer (video) and Jim Clayburgh (director) turn tables on the novel’s original themes. The opera takes place entirely within the mind of its narrator, Humbert Humbert, who remains seated on a platform, his back to the audience throughout the show. Cameras record and screens reveal every change in his facial expression as the evening proceeds.


Marking its first U.S. appearance in 15 years, London’s DV8 Physical Theatre (October 2–5) presents “To Be Straight With You,” a searing, multimedia examination of intolerance, religion and sexuality based on hundreds of hours of audio interviews with people in the U.K. whose lives are intimately affected by such issues. The work, conceived and directed by DV8’s founder Lloyd Newson, is co-produced by Maison des Arts de Créteil, the Festival d’Automne in Paris and the National Theatre in London, where it will have an extended run following its Peak Performances season. 

David Roussève will present the tri-state premiere of “Saudade” (February 12–15), a full evening dance that uses folklore, historical fact and personal experience to examine the single, indescribable moment when joy and agony are fused. In Portuguese, “Saudade” conjures up the complex mixture of sadness, pain, nostalgia, joy and love that is at the core of Fado music, which accompanies the dance. 

While Susan Marshall’s world premiere (March 26–29) is still in its nascent stages, any Peak Performances ticket buyer can access the choreographer’s most recent groundbreaking work via their cell phone. Entitled “Frame Dances,” these specially created performances-in-the-palm-of-your-hand will be available through a special access number that will be given to all 2008/2009 ticket buyers. 

From May 7-10, the Kasser stage will be alive with Johannesburg’s Via Katlehong Dance’s American premiere of “WOZA,” a vibrant celebration of the movement and rhythms of natural forces, wind, trees and animals. Filled with energetic, powerful and aggressive moves amplified by strong stamping feet, hand clapping and loud voices, “WOZA” combines Pantsula –– the South African township urban dance –– and traditional Gumboots dance, mixed with African contemporary dance. The dance is accompanied by vocals and live music played on traditional and untraditional South African instruments. 


All tickets are $15, and are available at the Alexander Kasser Theater Box Office or by calling 973-655-5112 or online at

Van or bus service is available from New York City ($10 per person, roundtrip) from the Maritime Hotel on 9th Avenue and 16th Street to the Alexander Kasser Theater for selected performances. Bus reservations may be made by calling 973-655-5112. 

For train service, available only o weekdays, go online to: or call 1-800-772-2222.

Montclair State University is located at 1 Normal Avenue, Montclair, New Jersey 07043. 

Peak Performances acknowledges the generous support of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.


SEPTEMBER 19, 2008 – MAY 10, 2009

*World Premiere
**American Premiere
***Tri-State Premiere
^American Debut
^^East Coast Debut



Sept. 19 at 7:30pm
Sept. 20 at 2:00pm, 8:00pm
***Addicted to Bad Ideas: Peter Lorre’s 20th Century

Sept. 27 at 8:00pm
Drumming (Steve Reich)

Sept. 28 at 3:00pm
Viola Quintet in G major, Op. 111 and Quartet in A minor, Op.51, No. 2 (Brahms)/Quartetsatz (Schubert)

Oct. 25 at 8:00pm
Oct. 26 at 3:00pm
Works by Donányi/Aaron Copeland/David Baker/Dvorák/Negro Spirituals (Oct 25 Program)
Tania León/Paquito D’Rivera/Alvin Singleton/Schubert/George Walker/Beethoven (Oct 26 Program)


Jan. 17 at 4:00pm, 8:00pm
No!/Here Come the ABC’s (Children’s 4:00pm Program)
Don’t Let’s Start/Birdhouse in Your Soul (8:00pm Program)

Jan. 31 at 8:00pm

Feb. 1 at 3:00pm
Irregular Pearls: Works by Purcell/Aufschnaiter/Biber/Leclair/Handel/Telemann 

Feb. 21 at 8:00pm
Quartet in D Minor, K. 421 (Mozart)/Quartet in G Minor, Op. 10 (Debussy)/**String Quartet No. 3 (Penderecki)



Oct. 16, 17 at 7:30pm
Oct. 18 at 8:00pm
Oct. 19 at 3:00pm


Jan. 22, 23 at 7:30pm
Jan. 24 at 8:00pm
Jan. 25 at 3:00pm
JAN FABRE (Belgium)
**The Orgy of Tolerance

Feb. 5, 6 at 7:30pm
Feb. 7 at 8:00pm
Feb. 8 at 3:00pm
**The Investigation

Apr. 3 at 7:30pm
Apr. 4 at 8:00pm
Apr. 5 at 3:00pm
JOJI INC (Belgium)



Oct. 2, 3 at 7:30pm
Oct. 4 at 8:00pm
Oct. 5 at 3:00pm
***To Be Straight With You


Feb. 12, 13 at 7:30pm
Feb. 14 at 8:00pm
Feb. 15 at 3:00pm

Mar. 26, 27 at 7:30pm
Mar. 28 at 8:00pm
Mar 29 at 3:00pm
*World Premiere

May 7, 8 at 7:30pm
May 9 at 8:00pm
May 10 at 3:00pm
VIA KATLEHONG (South Africa)

Alfred R. Fredel, Media and Marketing Director
Peak Performances @ Montclair State University

Released: July 30, 2008