WaxFactory’s “PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER!” Photo by Maria Baranova
What an exhausting few weeks it’s been! I’ve been to Austin, Toronto, and out and about in NYC. This weekend I head to Chicago for a business trip. And in between I celebrated my birthday with a lovely pub-and-bookstore crawl across Brooklyn. So I’m rather tired. But with all that said, I wanted to share what I’d been up to.
The 2016 Fusebox Festival in Austin. I made my second trip to Austin for the annual Fusebox Festival last month, and wrote about the festival for them. This website played host to the project, which included my new friend and acquaintance Christine Gwillim, who helped me cover the events. All of work can be found here on the Deeply Fascinating @ Fusebox page. I also wrote an archival round-up for the festival, published on Storify, which can be found here. And finally, I joined Lindsay Barenz of Maxamoo, a weekly theater and performance podcast, wrapping it up here. So, exhaust yourself with our exhaustive coverage of Fusebox.
Devising Process in the Brooklyn Rail. I made my premier in the Brooklyn Rail this month (May) with a piece on WaxFactory’s latest; you can check it out here. The show, PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER! #montage, at 3LD May 18-19, is the fourth in a series of studies the company is putting forward as it devises a contemporary version of Chekhov’s The Seagull. The article grew out of a dialogue between Ivan Talijancic and me about the relationship of process to art, inspired by a similar project I was involved in with Seattle dance/performance company zoe|juniper, called “No Ideas But In Things,” which you can read part of on the company’s website and a essay-length piece on in Chance 5.
May Previews! I returned to Maxamoo just this week to talk about what’s up in May, touching on the Wooster Group, the aforementioned WaxFactory presentation, Hadestown at NYTW, and finally Jim Findlay’s Vine of the Dead, a piece I was amazed by last fall and am stoked to see at the Invisible Dog May 26-28 at 9 pm. It’s a strange, wonderful, bizarre experience, and I highly recommend it. Continue reading
So there’s two shows that, I think, have become audience favorites for Fusebox 2016: Bronx Gothic and Dickie Beau: Unplugged. Or, at least, that’s the result of my unscientific polling around the hub last night, as well as my own personal experience. I saw Bronx Gothic when it premiered in New York and was wowed by it. Okwui is a fantastic performer who I’d seen several times before in work with Ralph Lemon, and it was exciting to see her tackle her own work.
All of which is to say that I already knew how good Bronx Gothic was, whereas Dickie Beau was completely new to me. Afterward I wound up talking with a curator and a critic from New York who mentioned that we’d all, apparently, missed Dickie Beau as part of the last Queer New York International Arts Festival, from Croatian curator Zvonimir Dobrovic. Which makes me disappointed in myself, because his piece at Fusebox was remarkable.
The show is basically a deconstruction of the devices employed in drag performance–lip syncing, dress up, interpretation of content–but employed in a way I’ve never seen before. Beginning with a lip synced performance to an audio recording of Kenneth Williams–a British comedian whose character on Round the Horne was one of the first clearly gay characters in British media, prior to decriminalization of homosexuality–Beau goes on to offer a truly sincere explanation of what it means to claim someone else’s voice for your own.
I was really struck by the show, which deserves a stronger and more extensive write-up, but the ending was particularly affecting. Having employed the myth of Echo and Narcissus as his frame, he performs the Echo role as the closing. Whereas most drag performance is a camp imitation of celebrity, here Beau takes a found audio love letter (apparently a lost cassette tape on a train) and performs it: The ultimate nobody, in other words. And the tape is fairly banal–a love letter that begins with the humdrum then descends into passionate sexual longing and ends on an ambiguous note. Beau’s performance, far from camp, was sincere and heartfelt. A video recording of his voice box intoning the words he merely syncs onstage added a truly over-the-top note to the performance. There were precious few dry eyes in the house, and it was a wonderful example of the power of simple theatricality.
We’re packed into a shotgun style hall on the second floor of a campy german social club. There are barbies with lederhosen encased in the walls, billowy red ribbons cover the ceiling. The lights are low, drink in hand, I’m peering over bobbing heads to get a glimpse of the neon spandex mesh glued to Christeene’s body. Glistening back up dancer boys bounce in and out of view as she wails away. It’s the type of utopic non/punk that would make Jose Muñoz Esteban proud. It makes me want to reprise the bio queen Trixy that I once played. It makes staying up until 3am for the third night in a row worth it.
Thanks for capturing the moment I was too swept away by to document @pjraval.
Samson Young is considering sonic warfare. Night bombing videos are a thing on YouTube, like how cat videos are a thing. They sound different than you’d imagine, he started wanting to do sound design for these videos. As he continues working on this project he consideres feeling the magnitude of what it means morally to do this for long periods of time; what does it mean when creating sound around bombing videos, when it starts to feel like going to work, much in the same way that drone operators slip into the routine of bombing?
The durational performance, Nocturne, is happening until 6pm today at Big Medium.
Saturday’s chat was the mega-panel of who’s who in festival curating: Karen Farber (Counter Current Festival, Houston), Martin Faucher (Festival Transamériques, Montreal), Gideon Lester (Crossing the Line Festival, NYC), Angela Mattox (TBA Festival, Portland), Mark Russell (Under the Radar Festival, NYC) and, of course, Ron Berry.
These six came together to answer some of the hard questions about balancing the varying and sometimes competing needs of multiple audiences, funding structures, goals and future plans.