The History of Empires Starring Marcus McGregor to Make World Premiere at La MaMa | Playbill

Classic Arts News The History of Empires Starring Marcus McGregor to Make World Premiere at La MaMa

McGregor returns to the stage after a 15-year hiatus in this newest work from Dan Safer and Witness Relocation.

Marcus McGregor in The History of Empires Christopher L. Hicken

Longtime resident dance-theatre company at La MaMa Witness Relocation returns to La MaMa’s Downstairs Theatre with the world premiere of Dan Safer's The History of Empires. Performances will run October 27-November 6 for the evening-length piece.

The History of Empires features a solo dance performed by Marcus McGregor which was co-choreographed by McGregor and Safer. The latter directs the performance which will also feature McGregor and Daniel Pettrow in a duet. McGregor returns to performance after a 15-year hiatus. He previously danced with Dance Theatre of Harlem and Feld Ballet. Pettrow is known for his previous work with The Wooster Group and John Heginbotham.

With text by Chuck Mee (Big Love), and text spoken by Kevin Mambo (Fela), Angela Winkler (The Tin Drum), and McGregor, The History of Empires explores the rise and fall of them frmo the historical and political to the contemporary and personal. Music is composed by Christian Frederickson (Palissimo), projections by Tom Kalin (Swoon) lighting design by Jay Ryan, and set and costume design by Deb O.

Development of the piece originally began in September 2020 when Safer, McGregor, and eventually composer Frederickson began to work together in a pod at Safer’s home and studio in upstate New York.

“We started Empires over the pandemic," Safer said, "with the goal of simply finding ways to make something. We really dug into our isolation and fear, and in the process discovered beauty, joy and friendship. I think about this piece like an ongoing exorcism, going through the rough stuff to come out better, and remembering that if you wait for everything to be okay before you can be happy, you’ll never be happy.” 

The History of Empires marks Witness Relocation/Dan Safer’s eighth production at La MaMa since 2006. Safer founded Witness Relocation in 2000, and has also choreographed productions such as Ubu Sings Ubu with Tony Torn, Salzburg Festival’s recent Jedermann, and Dom Juan at SummerScape.

For tickets and more information, visit


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