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Andrew Dawson's Award-Winning 'Absence and Presence' Makes Its Los Angeles Premiere at UCLA Live Oct. 11-15
Photo by Steven Smith

Andrew Dawson's Award-Winning 'Absence and Presence' Makes Its Los Angeles Premiere at UCLA Live Oct. 11-15

English director, dancer and mime artist's intimate elegy to his father, whose body lay undiscovered for 10 days after he died in 1985, reflects on grief, regret and the unique emotions wrought by the death of a parent.

This article was first published by UCLA News.

Date: August 24, 2006
Contact: Holly Wallace ( )
Phone: 310-825-5202

UCLA Live presents the Los Angeles premiere of internationally celebrated English director, dancer and mime artist Andrew Dawson's award-winning "Absence and Presence," an eloquent and often wry meditation on his father's death. This powerful autobiographical piece uses sculpture, video, mime and his father's letters to create a vivid production that is both emotionally captivating and life affirming. Realized and performed by Dawson, the solo 60-minute performance, with no intermission, will be presented at 8 p.m. Wednesday–Friday, Oct. 11–13; at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 14; and at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 15, at the Macgowan Little Theater on the UCLA campus. For tickets visit, call (310) 825-2101 or contact Ticketmaster.

Winner of the prestigious Total Theatre, Herald Angel and Carol Tambor awards at the 2005 Edinburgh Festival, Dawson's acutely intimate elegy to his father, whose body lay undiscovered for 10 days after he died in 1985, reflects on grief, regret and the unique emotions wrought by the death of a parent.

"What I really like about the piece is that actually it's quite uplifting," Dawson said. "And that people feel very positive, some people feel very moved. It's quite a positive experience; it's not grim in any way because it's dealing with death. Sometimes it's hard, until people see it, to realize that."

Conceived by Dawson in collaboration with Jos Houben, Graham Johnston and Fabrik Potsdam, "Absence and Presence" was created in 2002 with a grant from the London Arts Board and received its world premiere at the Fabrik Potsdam theater in Germany, along with a companion art installation which echoed the theme. Marking the 20th anniversary of his father's death, "Absence and Presence" took the 2005 Edinburgh Festival by storm. In January 2006, it moved to the London International Mime Festival before making its U.S. premiere in New York in April.

"Absence and Presence" is a groundbreaking exploration into working with movement and imagery. Andrew Dawson originally studied dance with Merce Cunningham in New York and co-founded the Mime Theatre Project. Articulated by his signature graceful, fluid movements, "Dawson has an astonishing eloquent physical presence," proclaimed The Observer (U.K.).

He tries his father's pipe and glasses, wears his shape like a costume, walks his walk, but it seems only to underline the distance between them. Sardonic letters, a powerful yet insubstantial wire sculpture, and a television monitor help create poignant imagery, punctuated by thoughtful lighting and an evocative score by composer Joby Talbot ("The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"). "Talbot's original, emotionally wide-ranging music adds significant depth to Mr. Dawson's performance," wrote The New York Times.

In addition to his dance studies with Merce Cunningham, Andrew Dawson studied theater in London and Paris with Desmond Jones, Philippe Gaulier, Monika Pagneux and Jacques Lecoq. As co-founder of the Mime Theatre Project in 1984, he established an international reputation with the award-winning "Thunderbirds FAB," which toured the world and had six seasons in London's West End. His interest in movement led him to become a practitioner of the Feldenkrais Method, graduating in 1994. In 1997 he wrote and directed the stage show of "Wallace & Gromit." Dawson won three awards at the 2003 Edinburgh Festival for directing "Pandora 88," including a Fringe First, and recently completed a new piece for the Fabrik, "Come Die with Me," inspired by the letters of writer and dramatist Heinrich von Kleist. Dawson is a cultural ambassador for the 2012 Olympics.

Tickets for "Absence and Presence" by Andrew Dawson are available for $32

at the UCLA Central Ticket Office at the southwest corner of the James West Alumni

Center, online at and at all Ticketmaster outlets. For more information or to charge by phone, please call (310) 825-2101. UCLA students may purchase tickets in advance for $12. Student rush tickets at the same price, subject to availability, are offered to all students with a valid ID one hour prior to showtime.


UCLA Live's 2006–07 Fifth International Theatre Festival

·        Friday–Sunday, Sept. 29–Oct. 1. The Suzhou Kun Opera Theater of Jiangsu Province, in its Los Angeles debut, performs "The Peony Pavilion," the 400-year old Chinese kunqu opera epic of love, beauty and marriage. Book I: "The Dream of Love," (Sept. 29); Book II: "Romance and Resurrection" (Sept. 30); and Book III, "Reunion and Triumph" (Oct. 1).

·        Saturday–Sunday, Sept. 30–Oct. 8. Playwright and performer Heather Woodbury's world premiere of "Tale of 2Cities" is a time-traversing, two-part saga that looks at the Brooklyn Dodgers' move to Los Angeles from New York in 1957 and the lasting effect it has had on three generations of characters from both locales.

·        Wednesday–Sunday, Oct. 11–15. L.A premiere of Andrew Dawson's "Absence and Presence."


·        Tuesday–Sunday, Nov. 7–12. The Gare St. Lazare Players Ireland usher in the Samuel Beckett Centenary Celebration with their performance of "Access All Beckett: Five Dramatic Recitals of Prose and One Late Drama," featuring celebrated actor Conor Lovett.

·        Wednesday–Sunday, Nov. 15–19. The Beckett Centenary continues as the Gate Theatre Dublin returns to Los Angeles with their definitive version of "Waiting for Godot," an encore engagement featuring the original director and most of the original cast.

·        Tuesday–Sunday, Nov. 28–Dec. 10. Mabou Mines' "DollHouse," in its West Coast premiere, is an OBIE Award-winning adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's original text, directed by the iconoclastic Lee Breuer. Set amid furniture of dollhouse-sized proportions, men (portrayed by actors less than 4-and-a-half feet tall) dominate women (played by actresses nearly 6 feet tall) in a surrealistic feminist anthem.

·        Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 12, 14, 16 and 17. Canada's acclaimed experimental theater company STO Union unites actors, writers, architects and video artists to cultivate new forms of theatrical expression. "Revolutions in Therapy" is a multimedia work questioning psychoanalysis, religion and capitalism.

·        Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 13, 15, 16 and 17. STO Union's "Recent Experiences" is the story of a family's four generations and their journey through the 20th century, performed with the audience intimately seated at a large table surrounding the actors. Very limited seating available.

The UCLA Live International Theatre Festival is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes that a great nation deserves great art.


UCLA Live is an internationally acclaimed producer and presenter of music, dance, theater and spoken word, bringing hundreds of outstanding and provocative artists to Los Angeles each year.


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