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theater Theory posterTheorems, Proofs, Rebuttals, and Propositions: A Conference of Theoretical Theater

PART I: September 6, 7, 8
PART II: September 12, 13

Theorems, Proofs, Rebuttals, and Propositions: A Conference of Theoretical Theater is being held to communally research how theorizing is performed. We use the word “the-ater” to frame performance modes that propose a way of seeing, or “the-ory.” We seek to enable serious consideration of the ways that performance constructs ways of knowing, but also ask how dramaturgy and other “theatrical” ways of knowing inform and sometimes restrict discursive and dialogic processes at large.

Therefore, at the core of this conference is performance. The conference begins with four plenary presentations, all in the form of performances, by Amapola Prada, Reality Research Center, Kikuko Tanaka, and Mike Taylor. Each of these will be followed by a moderated discussion. The responses by conference participants will discuss, derail, and embody theater-as-theory.

CONFERENCE REGISTRATION is $50 for full access* to the two public weekends of the conference. Register here: http://theaterastheoryconference.bpt.me/. Entrance to any of the public events individually is $10 strongly suggested donation (or DNA in the form of hair or fingernails at Glasshouse).

*August 31st-September 4th is Acts I, II, and III of the Reality Research Center’s “Symposium.” The piece is a workshop-format performance for 12 individuals during the day. Participation is first come, first served and will occur at Momenta Art. Please note in your registration if you are able and desirous to participate in this aspect of the conference.

Friday Sept 6
5-8pm Amapola Prada / Plenary Performance
(Glasshouse Projects)
“REVOLUTION”
http://amapolaprada.tumblr.com/

8pm Amapola Prada / Moderated Discussion
(Glasshouse Projects)

< dinner break >

10:00-11pm Kikuko Tanaka / Plenary Performance (Panoply Performance Laboratory)
“Poultry Paradise and Its Discontents: Nightshifts”
http://www.kikoworld.net/kikukotanaka-poultry-padise-and-its-discontents.html

Saturday Sept 7
4:00-5:00pm Kikuko Tanaka / Moderated Discussion (Panoply Performance Laboratory)

7:00pm-12:00am Reality Research Center / Plenary Performance Act IV*
Dinner will be provided.
(Glasshouse Projects)

[Note: Only the 12 audience members from Acts I-III can participate in this final, inner sanctum Act IV of “The Symposium”]
http://www.todellisuus.fi/en/periaatteet/

Sunday Sept 8
1:00-4:00pm Mike Taylor / Plenary Performance Part I (Glasshouse Projects)
“IDEA MACHINE”
http://www.mixedmsg.com/

4:30-5:30pm Reality Research Center / Epilogue and Moderated Discussion (Glasshouse Projects)
Public

6:00-7:00pm Mike Taylor / Plenary Performance Part II and Moderated Discussion (Glasshouse Projects)
Moderated by Gavin Kroeber
“IDEA MACHINE”
http://www.mixedmsg.com/

7:30 Casual drinks & wrap-up discussion

In this intervening week, invited conference participants (scholars, artists, writers, and others) construct responses to the four plenary works in the form of performances, dialogues or writing. These works are performed or read on the following two days:

Thursday Sept 12th
7-10pm Participant response panels and performances (Glasshouse Projects)

Friday Sept 13th
7-11pm Participant response panels and performances (Glasshouse Projects)
— In conjunction with a closing party/Glasshouse residency opening —

Glasshouse Projects
246 Union Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
http://glasshouseproject.org/

Panoply Performance Laboratory
104 Meserole Street
Brooklyn, NY
http://www.panoplylab.org/space

BIOS

Amapola Prada lives and works in Lima, Peru. Her practice navigates the intimate spaces within human beings unprocessed by consciousness and expressed by non- rational impulses to create symbolic works resonating the social conflicts of everyday life. Her performance work has been presented by the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, Belo Horizonte, Brasil; Performa 11; the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Oaxaca, Mexico; and the II Bienal Internacional de Performance in Santiago de Chile, Chile. In 2011, as a Franklin Furnace Fund Fellow, her solo exhibition Modelo Para Armar: Rehearsing The City was on view at the AC Institute in New York City. She received a BA in Social Psychology from Pontifica Universidad Católica del Perú.

Reality Research Center is a well-known performing arts collective based in Helsinki, Finland. Their works stem from critical perspectives that observe, question and renew the surrounding reality through performative means. During 2012-13 RRC is creating Utopian Reality, which uses the everyday as an artistic medium and invites everyone to reconfigure it with utopian practices.

Mike Taylor is a writer, director, installation artist, and performer across disciplines. Her projects have been performed, read, and shown at The Kitchen, The Invisible Dog, CUCHIFRITOS art gallery, Dixon Place, La Mama, TONIC, and elsewhere. She has recently collaborated with Ralph Lemon, Lance Gries, and, her primary collaborator in this experiment, Iki Nakagawa; and has worked extensively with Meredith Monk, Yvonne Meier, Sibyl Kempson, John Jesurun, Urban Bush Women, Richard Foreman, Dar-A-Luz, Conway & Pratt Projects, The Wooster Group, The Ridiculous Theatrical Co, and many others.

Born and raised in Japan, Kikuko Tanaka is a frantic artist based in New York. She has performed and exhibited in various venues, including Smack Mellon, Momenta Art, NARS Foundation, Center for Performance Research, Amelie A.Wallace gallery at SUNY Old Westbury, Glasshouse, Vox Populi, Arario Gallery and Panoply Performance Laboratory among others. Her work has been reviewed in Art in America, Art Info, and Hyperallergic. She was a nominatee for a Rema Hort Mann Foundation Visual Art Grant in 2010. Her open-ended multi-media tragicomic epic, A Tragic Bambi, is fiscally-sponsored by New York Foundation for the Arts. She has a cross-disciplinary background in her education. She holds a BA in Landscape Design from Chiba University, and has studied fine art at School of Visual Arts, and interdisciplinary study at Hunter College and Graduate Center, New York. She is also a co-founder/ co-director of a not-for profit organization, Agape Enterprise, Brooklyn, New York.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Theorems, Proofs, Rebuttals, and Propositions: A Conference of Theoretical Theater was established by Esther Neff (Panoply Performance Lab) and Yelena Gluzman (Science Project / UCSD / Ugly Duckling Presse). It is sponsored by an Honorary Fellowship for Utopian Practice from Culture Push.

To contact the organizers, please email theatertheoryconference@gmail.com.

After the Conference of Works at University of the Streets this past weekend I feel the need to write some kind of “assessment,” so here it is.  During the Conference, Ben Spatz (Urban Research Theater) used this term, “assessment” in his discussion of technique and transmission/education, as did Dave Thrasher in his discussion of his situational, interactive project, and I think it’s a very interesting word/concept in terms of live performance. Yes, much has been made of performance’s “liveness,” its transient, temporary state and the impossibility of concrete or “scientific” assessment.  Having dissipated several days ago now, how can this Conference of Works, which included around 60 participants (most of us played multiple roles of participant/audience/performer/presenter) over the course of the two days and amassed a multiplicity of concepts and concerns, be assessed? How can its effect be charted or analyzed?

Many artists over the course of the weekend (especially those who hope for socio-political operation in some way) said that they can’t assess how their work is operating, how it’s taken by an audience, assess whether or not it’s been “effective,” and if their choices in terms of Mode, Method, and Medium have been the “right” ones.  Carrie Dashow expressed a desire for documentation and review after a participatory process, notarizing material forms as Yesiree The Notary for the Conference attendees that swore to their self-assigned artistic identities.  Towards additional permanence, Amapola Prada makes haunting videos of her staged actions, which allow the works to travel internationally and last beyond the sunny Lima days on which they are shot. Other artists participating in the Conference expressed a rejection of assessing their work and practices at all, choosing to “feel through” audiences and their reactions in order to determine if and how performance modes are effective. Chance and Melanie of The Nerve Tank said they sometimes measure the success of their work by “walk outs,” knowing that it’s literally affective when individuals can’t handle it in some way. The project Nate Hill shared often produces active responses of offense, as his website selling milk gargled by “pretty white girls” rubs salt into more than one exposed cultural wound.

But do reactions to our work control our practical experiments in the “scientific” sense, or assist any direct cause-and-effect assessment? “Science,” they say, relies on an index, something left behind where there was once the thing, while offense, or amusement, or trains of thought, quickly dissolve into life itself and can’t be indexed at all, other than by the individual to which they belong.   How can we follow through on the research aspects of our practices and put performance research towards the development of our modes and methods?  During the course of the Conference, we experienced Martín Lanz Landázuri, William Bilwa Costa, and dancers researching resonance, embodying the concept and examining  how resonance can be used in performance and performed as such.  We also experienced part 2 of Handan Ozbilgin’s 3-part Maids project,  which jumps off from the “research” text of Jean Genet’s Maids, Hyatt Michael’s  Syb’L Vane piece, drawn from The Picture of Dorian Gray, and  Hector Canonge‘s Immigrant 101, a performance-context lecture on immigration, incorporating found research images and statistics. The idea of “scientific” exploration, research, and “problems” (especially in Lindsey Drury’s intense, improvisational and site-specific dance work and Angela Washko‘s performance in which she attempted to disrupt two men building cardboard boxes), and the place where these intersect with participation and collaboration kept coming up, at times fusing into related concerns, and other times breaking apart into concrete statements about reasons for working in a certain way.

Several artists expressed during the conference that they consider the analysis and assessment of our work, and the choices we make during the process of creating work, a completely subjective task, which can’t be performed in a scientific or even articulable manner, as no unified or communicable, objective analysis or set of decision-making criteria can be constructed.  On this note but in a different key, J.J. Lind of Immediate Medium spoke during the Sunday round-table about how his collaborators, coming from varying mediums, backgrounds, and fields, working immediately and in the moment together, can build a stronger aesthetic and conduct powerful experiments. This idea perhaps suggests that collaboration is inherently a form of constant analysis that negates the need for formal assessment. Collaboration across disciplines seems to provide an anodyne in this way to the “problem” of subjective analysis, as multiple artists can walk away from a collaborative with something subjective learned or explored, or they can create a kind of “meme-plexic” index, that pools subjective responses outside of the individual selves involved. Jason Andrew, founder of NORTE MAAR for Collaborative Projects in the Arts has found that co-creation between artists from different disciplines produces new modes of expression and experiment, as have experimental music ensemble thingNY’s Paul Pinto and Gelsey Bell. With collaborative and participatory processes in mind, I believe that the inherent “subjectivity” of an analytic process does not make such a process of assessment or analysis less useful; “subjective” sometimes becomes a buzz-word that means we don’t have to talk about it in public, but perhaps it means that when something is seen as subjective, we simply must perceive it in a different way, through the convergence  of a wide range of subjective perspectives.  Perhaps we need to collaborate on experimenting with analysis itself.  In my mind, this was the task of the Conference, to get a multiplicity of subjectivities out of a private sphere and into an analytic public one.  In the organization of the conference, the attempt to combine a number of subjective perspectives and analyses wasn’t about getting closer to “objectivity” by finding the similarities/common denominators between subjective perceptions, rather it was about gathering and being able to see more than one perception at a time, gathering perceptions outside one’s own, and considering them as a range of assessments.  Perhaps one could also say that this goal (of seeing more than one subjective perspective) is one of the primary operations of performance arts, performance research, and the subsequent experimentation that these modes catalyze.

I can only say for certain that the experience overall with this conference, for me, was consuming, overwhelming, at times confusing, and powerfully moving, and that the plethora of subjective goals, assessments, tasks, and conclusions took me closer to knowing how to research, through my own practice, the multi-dimensional reality that we all experience from such difference angles. I am incredibly grateful to all who participated, for their generosity, articulation, expression, communication, recognition, organization.  Thank you to those I mentioned here, and to the many others who came, participated, performed, perceived, and practiced (esp. Paul Pierog, who was the only person other than Brian and I who attended the entire conference, both days, first to last).  I hope we do it all again soon!

You are cordially invited!

May 21st and 22nd 2011 at University of the Streets.

This conference, MODE, METHOD, MEDIUM brings together artists and cultural organizers who work between disciplines both in terms of medium and in terms economic/field-based distinctions. We hope to take a step towards dialectic and artistic solidarity between the independent and ‘avant-garde’ communities in dance, performance art, theater, and music, and to share our vocabularies and methods.

Presentations will include performances, project presentations, artist talks, papers, and interactive workshops.

Inherently and formally political, often interactive and/or participatory,  always startling and deeply considerate, artists, curators, scholars, and cultural organizers will share their work, discuss their practices, and participate to two open round-tables about what “medium,” as a mode of transmission, means to us now.

Saturday, May 21, 2pm-6pm
Sunday, May 22, 2pm-10pm

Public round-tables at 4pm both days

University of the Streets
130 East 7th Street (between 1st Avenue and Avenue A)
New York, NY 10009-6164

Open to the Public
Free

Participating artists and companies include:

Handan Ozbilgin, showing part three of her MAIDS project, members of experimental music ensemble thingNY, Ben Spatz/Urban Research Theater, JJ Lind and Liz Vacco of Immediate Medium, Peruvian artist Amapola Prada and her Lima New York Project, participatory performance art-ist Carrie Dashow, cultural organizer/icon Jason Andrew, sound and movement researchers William Bilwa Costa and Martin Lanz Landazari, Ashley Kelly-Tata of Enthuse Theater, the pyromaniacs from Aztec Economy, Melanie Armer and Chance Mueleck of Nerve Tank, GoGoVertigoat’s Lindsey Drury, and interdisciplinary practitioners Sarah Maxfield, Angela Washko, Rebecca Patek, Nate Hill, Hyatt Michaels, Gelsey Bell, Dave Thrasher, and many others!

SCHEDULE:

Saturday, May 21

2-3:00
Handan Ozbilgin (MAIDS)
3:15pm-3:25
Dave Thrasher
3:25-4:00
Hyatt Michaels
Carrie Dashow
4:15pm-5pm: round-table 1
medium, mode, method (emphasis on participation)
5-5:30
Amapola Prada
5:30-6pm

thingNY

Sunday, May 22nd

2pm-3:15 pm
Hector Canonge
3:15 -4pm Nate Hill
4pm-5:00pm: round-table 2
medium, mode, method (emphasis on discipline)
5:00 performances
Angela Washko
5:30-7pm: presentations/artist talks

Jason Andrew
Gelsey Bell
Sarah Maxfield
The Nerve Tank
7:00
William Bilwa Costa, Rebecca Patek, Martin Lanz Landazari
8pm
Lindsey Drury
8:45-9pm (clean up and short break)
9:00pm

Ben Spatz/Urban Research Theater
10pm
Aztec Economy
STRIKE
11-end

This conference is organized by Esther Neff of the Panoply Performance Laboratory, with advice from The Nerve Tank! Thanks to all participants, who have created the form of this weekend.

Contact: panoplylab@gmail.com