Send for The Million Men, a critically acclaimed piece by writer/performer/designer Joseph Silovsky, deals with the controversial trial and execution of Sacco and Vanzetti, two immigrants wrongly accused of robbery and murder in Braintree, MA in 1920.
Silovsky interprets this story as a fever-paced piece of multimedia-infused theater.
Silovsky uses and misuses text, cutout puppetry, and homemade crude machines. The tale of Sacco and Vanzetti, known from history books, is enriched and transformed by an unconventional approach to storytelling. The result is passionate and relevant reflection on marginalized classes, justice, the judicial system, and what happens when this system fails. What emerges at the meeting point of scholarly knowledge and artistic innovation is a portrait of the two men and the divided era in which they lived, as told by a crazed inventor.
Work on the project began in the late 1990s when he workshopped a version of the piece with a group of collaborators in Chicago. He subsequently spent many years conducting extensive document research and visiting places important to understanding events surrounding the tragic injustice to Sacco and Vanzetti.
The show premiered at NYC’s HERE in 2014 and returns in its original form, featuring striking video design by Victor Morales and music by Catherine McRae.
Created and directed by Joseph Silovsky
Performed by Joseph Silovsky, Victor Morales, and Catherine McRae
Associate director: Eric Dyer
Video designer: Victor Morales
Sound designer: Catherine McRae
Lighting designer: Laura Mroczkowski
Electronics designer: Ryan Holsopple
Photo: Cory Weaver
Joseph Silovsky is an object-oriented performance artist known for his odd mechanical creations. Combining his passions for construction, history, and theory, he builds machines, contraptions, puppets, and stages, which he employs in productions that bring to life arcane figures and the minutiae that surround them. His works explore communication, driven by his underlying belief that “nothing is more important than to keep trying to communicate.” An active performer and creator since 1990, he has performed solo work at St. Ann’s Warehouse, PS122, Pete’s Candy Store, Dixon Place, and elsewhere. Silovsky has also been a technical director and performer with companies such as The Builders Association and Radiohole. His awards and residencies include a Lower Manhattan Cultural Council residency (2014); Mount Tremper Arts Center Residency (2013); Axe-Houghton Foundation Grant (2013); Radiohole/Collapsable Giraffe, Collapsable Hole Residency (2012); Project Grant, Henson Foundation (2011); and Seed Grant, Henson Foundation (2010). Through the development of his solo shows, Silovsky created Stanley, an endearing and critically acclaimed robot who has become an integral part of his performances. He has collaborated with designer and performer Victor Morales since 1994.
Send for the Million Men was commissioned, developed, and produced through the HERE Artist Residency Program (HARP). It has received generous funding from the Jim Henson Foundation, the Axe-Houghton Foundation, and The Puffin Foundation. The work also received support from St. Ann’s Puppet Lab, DPI (Digital Performance Institute) residency, LMCC (Process Space), Mount Tremper Arts, The Knockdown Center, and Associated Hole Productions, a division of Radiohole.