Seth Eisen, a Bay Area-based teacher, choreographer and chronicler of LGBT artists, has created “Rainbow Logic,” a performance piece that tells the story of the late gay Jewish artist Remy Charlip
The late dancer and artist Remy Charlip was known for his many contributions to the art world, whether writing and illustrating picture books, choreographing or performing avant-garde dance or founding a children’s theater group. Now he is the subject of another artist’s imagination, someone who learned from the master.
Seth Eisen, a Bay Area-based teacher, choreographer and chronicler of LGBT artists, has created “Rainbow Logic,” a performance piece that uses dance, video, music, dialogue, projected images and puppetry to tell Charlip’s story. Three actors portray scenes from his life, the people he encountered and his relationships with men. The piece, co-presented by the Contemporary Jewish Museum, has its world premiere Nov. 4-20 at CounterPulse in San Francisco.
“His way of seeing the world was very unusual and really nuanced, so I use the visual media to try and tell the story in the way he might have told it,” said Eisen, who considered him a mentor. Charlip died in 2012 in San Francisco, where he had lived for over 20 years.
According to Eisen, Charlip’s story is an important one among gay Jewish artists, whose stories, he believes, generally go untold.
“It’s a very fascinating story from the point of view of our history, and dance history, and theater history,” he said.
As Eisen began preparing the piece, he interviewed 30 people across the country about the late artist and studied his archives for a year before starting to write. He describes the finished work as being about “a queer Jewish kid who discovers himself and finds his family.”
Charlip was born Abraham Remy Charlip in Brooklyn, New York, in 1929 to Russian Jewish immigrants; his father was a house painter and his mother a grocer in their family store. He earned a fine arts degree from Cooper Union, studied dance at Juilliard and was a founding member of what became the Merce Cunningham Dance Co.