I use the word das to describe my aesthetic. It's a sort of matrix.
"Is this das?" ~~~ "That is not das" ~~~ "Oh this is so das"
During the fall of 2016, my colleagues at HowlRound were describing the performances they saw in Eastern Europe as "so das"... and I mistook it for some sort of academically cannonized word. It seemed to encapsulate everything I was drawn towards, anti-American/anti-Aristotelian drama via fluorescent lights and fake blood. It's now the prefix I've given to a bunch of my projects. I love using it to be simultaneously pretencious (I am making Das Theatre—The Theatre!) but also not serious at all...
To launch das, Riley Fox Hillyer and I created Cabaret Das. The name and form is homage to the Dada Cabaret Voltaire. We meditated in dark earnestness and devised short performances from text, music, and fears. From that documentation I created the above video. We performed Cabaret Das at the Huret and Spector Gallery on Emerson's campus in September 2017.
The second das performance really saught to place "das" in the academic-aesthetic historical-discourse via a performance art lecture. I performed this 3 hour TED talk-esq experiment at Emerson College. It featured lip-syncing, reclamation of play-submission-feedback, sound collages, John Cage-ian boredom, a history of Das' origin, and more. Through this performance I began to realize that das is a reach towards the avant-garde independent European artists I love, but firmly planted in the history and path I have been on as an American.
Subverting the form of gallery spaces (inspired by theories from Inside the White Cube: The Ideology of the Gallery Space by Brian O'Doherty), this piece blurs spectactor/performer roles by handing each visitor a proxy through which they look at the artworks (ranging from photo to painting to video to performance art) and communicate with one another. This was a challenge to create something that could fit into any room or context.
A literal pity party. Different stations are set up for people to visit in order to exorcise pity & fear. Disappointments from life are collected before the audience's arrival, and written on the party hats.
The stations include: "Pin the tail on the map where you've cried", "Spin the bottle, but instead of kissing someone, look into their eyes for 47 seconds", "Draw a photo of an ex you never want to see again (but blindfolded)", and the "Area to just be on your phone and not talk to anyone"
Like Das Art, this is a modular/versatile work that can fit into any space.
Nomi is a theatrical work inspired by the life, aesthetic, and cultural impact of Klaus Sperber, aka Klaus Nomi. I constructed the script and worked with Riley Fox Hillyer to stage it for Theatre on Fire's Cabinet of Curiosities festival. It was performed at the Charlestown Working Theatre in May 2017.
On the website Glitch I've been experimenting with using websites as a form for performance-scripts, rather than using Microsoft Word or Google Docs. I think about how playscripts have looked the same for so long (character names in all caps, stage directions italicised, etc) & how that has shaped the imagination of artists.
Bewildered & in love with devised/experimental groups, I wonder what is the best way to embed the collaborative process, source material, and dramaturgy into a single document. Rather than writing "Four Seasons by Vivaldi plays" in the script, can't I just embed that sound? Can I embed videos, GIFs, emoji, etc rather than having to translate every idea into words?
Ideas for different pieces and scripts and experiments/experiences can be viewed on my Glitch page.
With HowlRound, I helped facilitate Wikipedia edit-a-thons, where a group of people get together and edit articles around a certain topic. I think it's important to remember that one of the most visited websites in the world is completely open for edits and contributions.
My first Wikipedia article was Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' An Octoroon, written in place of a final essay for a theatre history course. I continue to write on Wikipedia because I'm privileged with an education and knowledge of this topic, and Wikipedia is so wildly popular that I think it's important for historically unrecognized artists to be written about with as much detail and recognition as those in "the cannon".