Bourne Again

Tony winner Matthew Bourne returns to New York with 'Theater Stroke Dance'

Also part of Bourne's reformation: a residency at London's contemporary dance center Sadler's Wells. "We have offices there now, a really nice relationship. We can sell out 12 weeks of dance, which is a good length. Most dance can survive for two weeks at most; even then it doesn't sell out. The West End, for a longer run, it's harder. We're commercial, but only up to a point."

So what does that mean for audiences? This year: the debut of Bourne's Edward Scissorhands ballet. "I've given up trying to call it something else," the director says, echoing a familiar theme. "People understand what a ballet is. It's in the style of my other pieces, but I'm not a ballet choreographer. Still, it's definitely not a musical. Actually, Tim Burton and Caroline Thompson, who wrote the screenplay, originally conceived it as a musical."

"I put the idea to do [Scissorhands] onstage to [composer] Danny Elfman first," Bourne continues, "and then to Tim. I was quite open-minded toward a musical, but they wanted it like the other pieces. They were excited by the prospect of non-verbal theater. It came from them, really. We've written the scenario for this version. It's quite different from the 1990 film. Danny's written some more music and it's starting to be designed. We hope to go into rehearsal by September. We're quite far down the road."

Master of twisted fantasy: Matthew Bourne
photo: Richard Mitchell
Master of twisted fantasy: Matthew Bourne

Bourne takes a breath, just long enough that one can't be sure if he's talking about Scissorhands, Play Without Words, or his contribution to the arts in general. Then he exhales. "People aren't quite sure what category to put it in," he laughs. "But I'm selling it as theater." He takes a beat and reconsiders. "Maybe theater stroke dance."

For tickets and schedule information about Play without Words, call 718.636.4100 or visit

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