Christian De Gré & Patrick Alberty- Directors

From La MaMa Blogs - October 20th 2014

Are you for real when you say the show "brings together over 50 multi-disciplinary artists?"

Christian: We sure are! We started this project back in 2009 as a partnership with FreeWriteNYC. At the time this was just an exercise to get 18 writers out of their heads and have them write short-stories based on a randomly selected photograph. As the project evolved, we realized that what was truly interesting was how different source materials could be interpreted. We began working on developing a festival that would go from art-form to art-form, re-interpreting the work. When visual artists came on board as the final interpretive stage, we realized we had visual bookends, allowing us to easily chart the movement of the piece in respect to its source.

For this production at La MaMa we have pulled from a mix of new indie artists and some of our past Resident Artists at MTAE. We are excited to have a wide range, including: international filmmakers, poets, playwrights, painters, animators, designers, composers, cellists, actors, dancers, accordion players, hip-hop artists, aerialists, etc, etc, etc working on this project.

Around 25 people will physically perform on the night but their work has been inspired by, and developed from, work done by close to 70 people over the last 5 years. 

What have you learned from creating 

Patrick: Just how easy it is to become stuck in one way of thinking when there is so much variety out there. Normally, when faced with trying to create, most people tend to latch on to a certain thing - a phrase, a sound, an image - and work from there. Then, when you’re finished, you think to yourself, “This is how my creation is supposed to be - it could never be seen any other way." But when you give your creation to someone else to work off of, 90% of the time they will take a hard left and come up with something completely unexpected, usually based off of some throw-away detail that meant nothing to you but struck them in just the right way. And for me, that is the essence of this project - getting a chance to see something through the eyes of another person; to understand what it is they experience that you do not.

How does THE DREAM VAULT CYCLE carry out your mission to create work that is "idyllic, aesthetic, and above all accessible." 

Christian: For us it's all about creating new work that has a purpose, is enjoyable, has a high level of artistry, but above all doesn't an audience. Too often we see work that falls on one side of the 'art'-vs-'entertainment' line, and by taking that path, loses part of its audience. Whether it's an action film based on a toy franchise (thou shall not be named) that makes people have a swell time but it has no meaning or creative message, or a piece of fine art at a museum that makes regular audience goers stand there going "what the hell is this?" we feel that the best and most evocative work bridges the gap between art and entertainment. The best example of this I have seen in recent years is the Italian Film "The Great Beauty." There you have a piece with a strong message (raising questions about decadence in society), a high aesthetic (beautiful stylized imagery and design) that is accessible (a great story with a simple arc that is relatable).

In THE DREAM VAULT CYCLE we strive to do just that: The premise is relatable; "what does an artistic idea retain as it is adapted by different artists?" Living in an an era of adaptations; from Shakespeare re-imaginings (La MaMa's very own Tempest series) to film versions of books (Gone Girl) and musicals (Into The Woods), we, as artists, consistently find people bickering about what is retained and what is discarded and what different artists do (or don't do) with another artist's work. We think that this is something worth exploring and talking about.

Our aesthetic premise is simple; the work has to look good, sound good and be worth leaving your Netflix marathon at home to come see. To this end, we gathered some of the most innovative independent artists we know and threw them together with young artists who are full of original views and ideas. With a strong design team behind them ,and working with visually stunning artists such as The Hybrid Movement Company (aerialists) and illustrators like Mexican Artist Elias "Uva" Diaz, we feel confident this show will have plenty of stimulating spectacle. 

Finally, we feel it is accessible because the show has a wide range of exploration. Traditionally photography and written stories are more easily grasped in concept by a normal audience, while dance and abstract art tend to appeal to the 'high art' crowd. We have a series here that erases that divide and as we quickly transition from one camp to the other you get to see these two worlds collide, merge and separate in waves, leaving behind an artistic smorgasbord for all to pick their favorites from. 

What was the initial inspiration for the show?

 A Thousand Words - 2009 Promo

 A Thousand Words -2009 Promo

Patrick: It was really a number of things... From a chronological stance, as Christian said, it initially went back to our 2009 project, A THOUSAND WORDS. With that as the base, we developed the idea further, including different types of artists and enhancing the 'thread' aspect of the project (a creation based on a creation based on a creation, etc.) The other part of this is that, at Mind The Art, there has always been a drive to do something different - not for the sake of being different, but rather because that is what has always held our interest. THE DREAM VAULT PROJECT is, essentially, a melding of everything we love - a multitude of arts and a variety of pieces all in one convenient place!

What recent productions/performances have inspired you?

Patrick: For me, SLEEP NO MORE has had a huge impact on how I view this project, as well as others in the future. While our two shows are completely different, there are aspects that we share: multiple narrative threads, non-linear story telling, an inclusion of several different art forms to make one coherent production. Oh yes, and a large cast…can’t forget that! From the producer/director side of things, I look at the time it took for them to fully realize their show - a massive undertaking that, understandably, took a very long time. But all of those years that were poured into making it a reality certainly paid off and what they have now is one of the most interesting and immersive theatre experiences anywhere. THE DREAM VAULT CYCLE took us 5 years to get to this point, a stretch of time where there were stops and starts, doubts and, here we are. In theatre and film, there is always a need to hurry to make the next big thing, but sometimes the best things are those that take time and really get it right.

What does working at La MaMa mean to you?

La MaMa Presents: A Mind The Art Anthology Vol. I  in 2010

La MaMa Presents: A Mind The Art Anthology Vol. I in 2010

Christian: La MaMa was, for all of us at Mind The Art, our first artistic home. We have had the pleasure and honor of creating 56 productions in New York City over the last 7 years with over 600 artists, but La MaMa was the first place that opened its doors to us and said "come play." I have always said that La MaMa is a place where an artist can go and truly explore the little ideas buried in the back of their head. Apart from giving you that freedom and inspiration, La MaMa teaches you courage and integrity as an artist.

Above all once you have stepped on the La MaMa stage you truly are family. I only had the pleasure of meeting (founder) Ellen Stewart a handful of times, but the one thing she taught me is to be unafraid while being human. Be assertive, maybe even aggressive with your art, but with humility and kindness to those around you. 

La MaMa has, for us, built three of our most valued principles:

  1. 1) Art is a collaborative and ever evolving medium.
  2. 2) There is great pride in risking all to entertain the few.
  3. 3) Have a strict no assholes allowed policy.

For these values we are eternally grateful.


October 24, 2014 - November 2, 2014
The Club at La MaMa E.T.C.
Exploring the thread of creation & inspiration The Dream Vault Cycle brings together over fifty multidisciplinary artists from opposing aesthetics. Their combined talents create unique multi-media performances exploring the evolution of a creative idea and the interpretation of its seed value as it journeys from art form to art form.