Spotlight: Playwright & Director Alex Timbers, Les Frères Corbusier
Everyone’s gleefully discussing the cultural irrelevance of theater in America, but no one is actually doing anything about it,” says Alex Timbers, the founder of New York’s experimental theater company Les Frères Corbusier. Everyone, that is, except Timbers himself, who, at the age of 30, has evolved into one of the country’s most groundbreaking writer-directors.
Take Heddatron, his 2006 re-imagining of Henrik Ibsen’s classic Hedda Gabler—cast with working robots. Or Hell House, from that same year, an exact reproduction of Pastor Keenan Roberts’ cautionary tale, which was designed in 1995 to instill the fear of God into young Bible Belt Christians. There was also 2004’s Obie award-winning A Very Merry Unauthorized Children’s Scientology Pageant, which featured children recounting the story of L. Ron Hubbard and Xenu. Despite threats of litigation lobbed at Timbers, parents of the young cast members and the show’s producers, Pageant was a critical success that continues to draw crowds at performances across the country.
This September, Timbers will skewer the recent economic freefall with HOOVER COMES ALIVE!, for which he took inspiration from Elvis’ ’68 Comeback Special. In it, Herbert Hoover, the president who ushered in America’s Great Depression, “comes back” to save America from its recession.
But how does the unassuming, baby-faced Yale graduate intend to save himself from creative and economic bankruptcy? By embracing, naturally, the apoplectic flashes of light that overwhelm locals and tourists in Times Square. “They consider Broadway the enemy,” says Timbers of elitist downtown theater types. “But that’s not at all true. I think that Broadway might just be its salvation.”
Photo by Janette Beckman; Styling by Wilson Mathews III Sweater by John Varvatos; Jacket by Banana Republic.