For Immediate Release



(Previews Jan. 16, 17, 23 and 24)

SAN FRANCISCO, CA -- One of the 20th Century's most enigmatic and influential philosophers returns from the grave in Wittgenstein: On Mars, a world premiere theater work written and directed by George Coates opening at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, January 28, 1998.

Wittgenstein: On Mars will be presented on Friday and Saturday evenings at 8 p.m. January 30, 31; February 6, 7, 13, 14, 20, 21, 27, and 28. Previews are scheduled for Fridays and Saturdays, January 16, 17, 23 and 24. All performances will be presented at Performance Works, 110 McAllister Street in San Francisco.

In Wittgenstein: On Mars, Ludwig Wittgenstein examines doubt and certainty from the perspective of a nearby planet. Questions of life on Mars compete with the Austrian born philosopher's (1889-1951) own doubts and certainties about the limits of knowledge and the evolving relationships of culture to value and of science to art. Wittgenstein has fascinated and perplexed for decades, in part because of the paradoxical ways in which his life and work comingled.

The text is drawn from Wittgenstein's writings including: The Tractatus, Philosophical Investigations, Remarks on Culture and Value (transcribed from class notes taken by his former students), letters, notes and diaries and remarks published posthumously as Wittgenstein: On Certainty..

Dramatically staged with a cast of seven characters, the production features the German-born actor Walter Dickhaut; British Punjabi actor Ravinder Gill, on loan from London's Tara Theater Company; and David Fine, Laura Miles, Laura Storm, Milissa Carey. Sound design is by Dave Hoffman and musical direction by Sue Bohlin.

"The Wittgenstein paradoxes are indeed the stuff of legend," states Marjorie Perloff in her book Wittgenstein's Ladder (University of Chicago Press, 1996). He was "A fabulously rich man who gave away all his money so he wouldn't have to bother with it; a man, three of whose brothers committed suicide...; a Jew baptized in the Catholic church, with strong leanings toward Protestant piety; a Viennese exile who made his home in Cambridge, England...; a closeted homosexual who lived an outwardly austere life but was intimate with a series of much younger men; a gentle man who abhorred violence but became a decorated hero in World War I; an intellectual genius who, in his thirties, worked first as a gardener and then as an elementary school teacher in rural Australia; an apolitical man who went to the Soviet Union in his forties in the hopes of becoming an ordinary worker...; a man who had no interest in modernist art movements and lived in Spartan rented rooms but who designed for his sister ...a starkly beautiful ultramodernist house." Perloff concludes, "Wittgenstein comes to us as the ultimate modernist outsider, the changeling who never stops reinventing himself, who never really 'belongs,' and whose presence is nevertheless so overwhelming that we can immediately identify it as Wittgenstein's. 'Language,' Wittgenstein wrote in his notebook, 'sets everyone the same traps...' and 'The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.'"

Wittgenstein was quoted as asking, "Can it be said that a play has a time of its own?' said George Coates, creator and director of the production. "If so, then Wittgenstein: On Mars is time shifted from the 19th century Vienna of Wittgenstein's birth through the 20th century discoveries of an expanding universe at the time of his death and after. Wittgenstein lived between huge shifts of perspective as an age represented by the artistic genius of Brahms (a frequent visitor to the youthful Wittgenstein estate) gave way to the scientific rocketry of Von Braun. During Wittgenstein's life measures of human achievement shifted gradually from the arts to the sciences. In the production, Wittgenstein: On Mars, Ludwig returns to directd our attention to further developments: from karaoke machines to the just-emerging science of

Wittgenstein often invoked Mars and imaginary Martians as examples to help explain his ideas about forms of daily life and how they are often understood. In antiquity, Mars was seen as a warrior god; in the Age of Reason Mars was seen as an astronomical object; with the discovery of its "canalli," the planet was believed to have waterways, in our lifetime Mars attacks (Orson Welles' War of the Worlds), and currently the discovery of a Mars meteorite with fossil evidence of bacterial life, found in the Antarctic, is reframing the story of ancestral life on Earth."

George Coates Performance Works is one of the country's most exciting and innovative theatrical companies, creating works of music and drama by merging theater, music and new media at the ensemble's six-story Neo-Gothic theater in San Francisco's Civic Center. The company's ensemble of collaborating artists are drawn from many different performance and design disciplines. In its theatrical presentations, live actors, singers, dancers and performers interact with film, video and other media to create some of the most imaginative and innovative contemporary performances.

The company most recently presented 20/20 Blake: The Visions of William Blake with world premiere performances in Brazil as the featured United States representative at the International Theater Festival of Scenic Arts (FIAC) in Sao Paulo Brazil. Subsequently in the United States, the North American premiere of the 28-member opera, music, and theater work based on poet and visionary artist William Blake was held over for an extended run at the company's resident theater, Performance Works.

Tickets for performances of Wittgenstein: On Mars beginning on January 28, 1998, range in price from $24 to $36. Preview tickets for January 16, 17, 23 and 24 are $16.

Charge by phone by calling
City Box Office (415) 392-4400.
Visit the company's web site at http://www.georgecoates.org. For further information about George Coates Performance Works call (415) 863-8520.

Wittgenstein: On Mars has been supported by Grants for the Arts of the San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund, National Endowment for the Arts, the California Arts Council, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

George Coates Peformance Works has been supported, in part, by the generous contributions of audience members and local philanthropies, including, The Bernard Osher Foundation, California Tamarack Foundation, James Irvine Foundation, The Andrew Mellon Foundation, The Skaggs Foundation and Phylis Wattis.

George Coates Performance Works
Performance Works, 110 McAllister Street in San Francisco

Created and directed by George Coates
Sound design by Dave Hoffman
Musical direction by Sue Bohlin
Costumes by Coel Winn
Lighting by Ivan Berry

Cast: Walter Dickhaut, David Fine, Laura Miles, Ravinder Gill,
Laura Storm, Milissa Carey

Previews: January 16, 17, 23, 24 at 8 p.m..
Opening Night: Wednesday, January 28 at 8 p.m.
Run: January 30, 31; February 6, 7, 13, 14, 20, 21, 27, and 28 at 8 p.m..

Ticket Prices:
Regular Performances: $24 - $36
Preview Performances: $16
Tickets are available at City Box Office: (415) 392-4400

Visit our web site at http://www.georgecoates.org
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