Bill Castellino talks about a nightclub cantata

BWW interview: Bill Castellino talks about a nightclub cantata

nightclub cantata recently came to New York’s Cell Theater, fusing literature and song into a unique theatrical experience like no other.

We spoke with the director and the choreographer Bill Castellin about the show, the choreography involved, and more.


What do you think was the inspiration behind nightclub cantata?

Writer and producer of the show Elizabeth Swados was strongly impacted by the “world tour” she did with Peter Brook. Through nightclub cantata, there are global influences: Latin and Brazilian rhythms, raga-inspired scales, American jazz and pop, Hebrew, African and invented languages ​​- a surprising combination of sophisticated and ordinary. Additionally, Swados was looking for storytelling that invites and challenges the listener in a new way. She avoids what she calls “easy” emotions and looks for “deeper but looser” expressions. Plus, Liz was both an activist and a visionary – a big motivator of the choices here. I believe these things have inspired Nightclub Cantata.

Why was this an important show to reveal today?

Cantata’s Nightclub the organizing theme is “survival”. This cycle of songs inspires us with precise movements, exotic sounds and poetic stories. The challenges may seem daunting – but we prevail (and perhaps thrive) by engaging our collective minds and common tenacity. nightclub cantata affirms it. Given today’s reality, this positive message seems particularly timely.

What do you think audiences will take away from the show? How will this impact them?

nightclub cantata remainder singular; there really is no such thing. We invite the public to “lean in” and listen with new ears. It encourages us to look at our situation from both a broad and personal perspective – both global and personal challenges. The show offers a special insight into many visions of the human condition. This unique experience uses words, sounds and images to uplift the spirit, challenge the spirit and lighten the heart.

Can you explain the process behind the choreography?

Language and music are carefully chosen. These elements are both minimal and complex. The choreography is designed to support this: scattered images illustrate big meanings. The disciplined unison of movement and dance strives for power, access and understanding. Everything is dedicated to precision. This is the path to visual choices. Swados’ layered score inspires choreography.

The show is said to combine “the seriousness of a cantata with the frivolity of a nightclub”. Can you say more? How?

This is Swados’ description of the show: “serious” and “frivolous”. As nightclub cantata tackles deep topics, it balances that ambition with seemingly silly topics. This provocative juxtaposition invites the viewer to experience life as a glorious balance between the profound and the ridiculous. Swados’ understanding of this makes nightclub cantata dignified and truthful and fun.

What excites you the most about this show and why?

I was enthusiastic about nightclub cantata since I met Liz who was working on the Boston production many years ago. Raw emotions, sophisticated words, grand concepts and overall storytelling impacted my entire career. Watching this young cast engage in this song cycle, learning the style, processing the ideas, finding their own understanding and giving this gift to the audience thrills me beyond description. I have good hope.

Photo courtesy of Cantana & Carol Rosegg Nightclub

Jerry C. Greiner