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The Foundry Theatre
140-142 2nd Ave, Suite 405
New York, NY 10003
(212) 777 - 1444

The Provenance of Beauty


On a bus touring the South Bronx
The Provenance of Beauty is a poetic travelogue, performed on a bus touring the South Bronx. The audience boards the bus in East Harlem, puts on headphones and crosses Willis Ave. Bridge, and for 90 minutes eavesdrops on the voice—live and recorded—of this historic place. Claudia Rankine’s evocative text points out and reflects upon the sites that pass by outside the windows – views that to an outsider might go by unnoticed—a factory dressed up as townhouses, the theatre where La Lupe once held court, now a pentacostal church—these are complicated places that ask what creates a neighborhood in a city in a country in the world. Provenance is a theatrical experience that both responds to and redoubles the landscape, mapping out a poetic cartography of a neighborhood—of any neighborhood— in an eternal state of evolution.

Connected Ideas

Did you know that the ideal cruising speed is thirty miles per hour? Speed limits are just one example of a Traffic Calming Measure that engineers have come up with. Even they realize our hearts race though we sit still.       (excerpt from The Provenance of Beauty)

Rankine’s spellbinding text  reveals itself as the proud yet resentful voice of the Bronx itself, and draws provocative connections between past and present, potential and reality, borough and city, and—most affectingly—the exterior of the bus and the inside of the visitors’ heads.

Provenance makes the bustle outside the bus throb with history, mystery and meaning, as the best of live performances do. An elegant theatrical meditation on a pocket of the city you might never think of exploring.

What is most exhiliarating about the roving stage is the way normally unnoticed urban characters and happenings become a part of the performance – a fresh attempt to realize the conceit of city as theater and theater as city.

Drama Desk Nominee for Unique Theatrical Experience

Full Credits

Written By

Claudia Rankine

Directed By

Melanie Joseph & Shawn Sides


Sarah Hayon
Raul Castillo
Randy Danson

Sound Design

Jeff Abbas

Video Design

Kell Condon

Stage Management

Casey Llewellyn

Bus Driven By

Mary Wallace