New York Times: Raja Feather Kelly ’09 gives ‘Dog Day Afternoon’ a multilayered makeover
Dancer and choreographer Raja Feather Kelly ’09 was a student at Conn when he first saw the 1975 film “Dog Day Afternoon,” he told The New York Times. The film—and Kelly’s reaction to it—inspires Kelly’s new live dance-theater documentary, “Wednesday,” which opens this week at New York Live Arts.
“I was captivated by the performance and also very upset by it,” Kelly said of the film, which is based on the true story of a bank robbery committed by the partner of Elizabeth Debbie Eden, a trans woman, to pay for her gender-affirming surgery. In the film, Eden is depicted as a man named Leon.
“What’s interesting is that it seems that this whole movie is about this character, or hinges on this character’s need. But Leon is only in the film for four minutes.”
More than 40 years after the film’s debut, Kelly’s dance, theater and media company The Feath3r Theory, explores the true motivations and outcome behind the bank robbery and dismantles the film, while simultaneously chronicles the complexity of story-telling, representation, community, and, ultimately, the search for self.
Writes New York Times dance critic Gia Kourlas, “Kelly’s multilayered, conceptual, sharply funny and visually arresting retelling, he has immersed himself in Eden’s life. Kelly breaks apart ‘Dog Day Afternoon’ and puts it back together as a meditation on his connection with Eden, whom he sees as being erased from popular culture.”
In addition to the performance piece, Kelly plans to release a long form essay, “Who Gets To Tell Whose Story,” in which he contemplates and criticizes identity politics in performance culture and a fear that his particular and specific identity has no place in popular culture, and produce a film documentary, “Any Given Wednesday,” which chronicles his company’s struggles with the pandemic, which postponed the “Wednesday” premiere by a year.
“Any Given Wednesday” will be directed by Kelly and his video collaborator, Laura Snow ’09, who serves as the director of media at New York City Ballet and has been filming Kelly’s company since 2012. It’s an especially fitting collaboration, since just as Kelly was first introduced to “Dog Day Afternoon” at Conn, it’s also where he first met Snow.
Learn more about “Wednesday” in The New York Times and on thefeath3rtheory.com.