neon animation + live action
Interview with Annemarie Hagenaars & Jack Feldstein on their "CARNIVAL OF SOULS neon animation + live action"
DutchCultureUSA had a chance to interview the artists and ask them about their projects and its cultural relevance today.
When asked how the two artists got together for the project, they answered that they met at the Workshop Theater in Manhattan in 2016 where both of them were artist members.
They subsequently worked together on several projects where Annemarie Hagenaars was cast in plays written by Jack Feldstein. In February 2018, Jack approached Annemarie with this particular project, "Carnival of Souls," after having nearly completed the neon animation of the film.
Annemarie accepted the challenges of this visually exciting and pertinent project and was inspired to create the role. Annemarie plays a contemporary woman, taking over the role of the 1960's woman in the film and giving the female protagonist today's pro-active stance.
The original movie "Carnival of Souls" is a known cult classic, but how did it spark your interest and more specifically how did it intrigue you enough to use it for your project?
The original film is a cult masterpiece in the public domain that is not widely recognized.
The idea of relaunching the film as a vehicle for today’s woman greatly fascinated Jack. He stumbled upon the film in the DVD section of his local library and was hooked. He spent nearly 2 years neon animating the movie before approaching Annemarie.
The live re-acting of Carnival of Souls is not an entirely new idea, but the re-rendering of the movie in neon-animation is of course quite unique.
How did you come up with the idea to make this 1962 horror film into a neon animated version, and how does it change the perspective and message of the film by adding a new layer?
Jack hypothesized that the neon animation aesthetic would lend itself well for the psychological horror and musical elements of the film.
The tone of the movie is hyper-natural and neon animation augments that element. The neon animation leaves far more to the imagination, and a person’s imagination is always more powerful than reality. Furthermore, the show is more than a re-enactment, as a live role has been added which is played by Annemarie. It's also funny.
Annemarie reinterprets the female protagonist in a contemporary way, thus the film itself has been re-interpreted. You explain that “[i]n this era, the show re-imagines the cult hit CARNIVAL OF SOULS, as a contemporary statement about women today.”
Do you think the movie was originally (among other things) a statement about women’s role in society? And as a follow-up question, do you think the live performance of the neon-animated version updates or changes this message, and how so?
Originally, in the 1960’s, the film was absolutely not a statement about women.
The female protagonist is often manhandled in the film by men which was totally acceptable in those days. For modern eyes, it’s astonishing.
Our newly created project changes the whole message of the film and allows an audience to see the film from a female perspective especially concerning a woman remembering past trauma. Exploring the film's theme of what a woman can and cannot remember is especially appropriate in today’s world.
And lastly: how does this project fit into both of your careers and the general themes you have tried to address in your work so far?
Jack often creates films and plays about underdogs overcoming obstacles. Jack is drawn to investigate this specific moment in time when women and men’s roles are being questioned.
For Annemarie, this is a solo performance where she interacts with characters in the film. The show both breaks the fourth wall and also immerses her in the world of the film.
After having played a lead role as Harvey Weinstein’s secretary in the award-winning short film HONEYPOT, in which her character enabled a sexual predator, Annemarie can now delve into the other side with her new role where she brings to life a woman struggling with memories of the past.
CARNIVAL OF SOULS
neon animation + live action
About the Artists
JACK FELDSTEIN (neon animator/director/writer) is an award-winning writer and neon animation filmmaker. His almost thirty neon animation films, including The Ecstasy of Gary Green, The Adventures of James Joyce and A Wondrous Film about Emma Brooks have screened worldwide from Lincoln Center and NYC's Angelika Cinema to Rotterdam International Film Festival and Sydney International Film Festival. As a writer, his playscripts including A House Like Any Other, The Confessions of Peter McDowell and The Process have won prizes in Australia, Britain and the USA. His playscript of Three Months with Pook was a finalist in the BBC International Play Competition and winner of the TRU VOICES COMPETITION 2019 in New York. His plays have been staged with many productions in Australia, New York and all over the USA.
Falling in Love with Mr Dellamort, his first foray into the world of musical theater was produced in NYC in December 2017 at The Slipper Room. Originally from Australia, he lives in New York City and developed many of his plays at Workshop Theater in Midtown where he was an artist member.
ANNEMARIE HAGENAARS (script editor) is a Dutch actress and performer. In March 2016 she moved to New York City to pursue her acting career in the United States. She has worked in a variety of theatre productions, film, TV, commercials and industrials. In November 2017 she joined SAG-AFTRA.
Annemarie Hagenaars' original role is now played by Ari Figueroa aka Pussy Willow.
ARI FIGUEROA/PUSSY WILLOW (PERFORMER & SCRIPT EDITOR) is a New York City based performer who acts, writes, and produces shows. Her most recent work was acting in "Merry Wives of Windsor" a Stag & Lion production. She also wrote and co-produced "Charlie's Room", A FigFagFeast play party. Ari resurrected Pussy Willow in the past year and since then her drag has truly taken off. Pussy Willow has performed in multiple venues, including a current regular show "The Pussy Party" at Albatross Bar. She also recently competed in Marti Gould Cummings "Ultimate Drag Pageant" of which she placed third. You can follow her on all social media platforms @willowthatpuss. Both Ari and Pussy are very grateful to be involved in such an exciting and fascinating project. Huge thanks to Jack Feldstein for his unwavering support and direction. Also thanks to Annemarie Hagenaars and Dixon Place for the opportunity to showcase such a piece.