17c is the newest Big Dance Theater ensemble work, built around the problematic 17th century diaries of Samuel Pepys. Pepys danced, sang, strummed, shopped, strove, bullied and groped — and he recorded all of it in his diary, completely unfiltered. From his bunions, to his infidelities, to his perversions, to his meetings with the King, he needed to get his daily life down on paper, or he felt lost. A startling precursor to our own social media culture, Pepys possessed a similar compulsion to assign an almost constant real-time meaning to his daily existence, to examine himself, and obsessively report it.

Using all the data we can find — the copiously prolific diaries themselves, Margaret Cavendish’s 17th century radical feminist play The Convent of Pleasure, three centuries of marginalia, and the ongoing annotations of the web-based devotees at www.pepysdiary.com — 17c dismantles an unchallenged historical figure and embodies the women’s voices omitted from Pepys’ intimate portrait of his life. Big Dance Theater continues its formal fascination with building systems of dance that challenge theater, while allowing the structure of the work itself to bring contemporary meaning to the making and un-making of our subjective past.


November 14 – 18, 2017 *NY PREMIERE*
Brooklyn Academy of Music – Next Wave Festival
BAM Harvey Theater
Brooklyn, NY

November 9 – 10, 2017 *WORLD PREMIERE*
Carolina Performing Arts
Chapel Hill, NC

October 28, 2017
Mass MoCA co-presented by Jacob’s Pillow Dance
North Adams, MA

September 7 – 9, 2017
Philadelphia, PA

January 11 – 12, 2017 (work in progress excerpts)
part of the American Realness Festival
Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center
Gibney Dance
New York, NY


Conceived and directed by Annie-B Parson
Co-directed by Paul Lazar
Choreographed by Annie-B Parson and the company

Sound Design by Tei Blow
Set Design by Joanne Howard
Costume Design by Oana Botez
Lighting Design by Joe Levasseur
Video Design by Jeff Larson

Performed by Elizabeth DeMent, Cynthia Hopkins, Paul Lazar, Aaron Mattocks and Kourtney Rutherford

Producer Aaron Mattocks
Production Manager
Carl Whipple
Production Stage Manager Ilana Khanin
“Elizabeth” Wig Design and Construction David Bova

Associate Sound Designer Eben Hoffer
Associate Set Designer Andreea Mincic
Sound Engineer Tyler Kieffer
Video Assistant/Operator Jorge Morales Picó

Stunningly decadent…a constellation of material…if a Sims game, a high-concept minimalist web series, a salacious ’80s soap opera, and a seventeenth-century boudoir all brought up a child together it might look like 17c.” —thINKingDANCE


Seamlessly executed and wonderfully captivating, 17c lends retrospect on Pepys’ life in a way that forces us to observe our own.” —Phindie


Ambitious….engaging, well-plotted stagecraft…if you don’t finally come to love Pepys the man, I think you’ll love the theater he inspired.” —Broad Street Review


Who but Parson would sleuth out references to dancing lessons in Samuel Pepys’ diaries and be inspired to make The Art of Dancing? The choice of the diaries and the delivery of them are deliciously witty. ” —DanceBeat


17c is produced by Big Dance Theater and co-commissioned by Carolina Performing Arts/UNC Chapel Hill, Brooklyn Academy of Music, FringeArts Philadelphia , the Old Vic/London, The Yard (Chilmark, MA), Anonymous, Virginia and Timothy Millhiser, the Starry Night Fund, Helen and Peter Haje, and the Heimbinder Family Foundation.

17c is supported in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and the National Endowment for the Arts. 17c is also funded, in part, by the Big Dance Theater Creation Circle, individual contributors committed to the development and support of the company’s newest works.

The New York premiere of 17c is supported by the Howard Gilman Foundation.

17c was created with residency support from the MacDowell Colony and the AIRspace program at Abrons Arts Center..