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Artist Statement

An ethos of Performance as Provocative Public Practice informs the work I do.

As a laboratory of existential experiments, I believe theater is one of the most vital civic institutions we have. Theater helps us to reckon with each other, in our similarity and difference, as a citizenry, and as a public. I have long been committed to expanding theater’s “public” mission by examining in performance just what “public” means or could mean. I believe in theater as open workshop, as inclusive process: never (quite) finished, always fleeting, and exploratory. One of the unique gifts of working in theater is the great power of collaboration. As the co-founder of three public performance ensembles, I have learned that ensemble demands commitment, negotiation, openness, presence; it insists on interdependence, not independence. As a director and co-creator, I am constantly working to facilitate spaces of critical generosity and embodied practices of mutual exploration.

Living between Berlin, Berkeley, and New York City over the past fifteen years, I have also been very fortunate to reap the benefits and opportunities performance affords to work across languages and cultures, across diverse communities of artists and thinkers, across different theater worlds and economies of art. This interdisciplinarity is deeply embedded in the work I make. I am invested in exploring modes of performance that de-hierarchize “the story” as the only mode of story-telling. Instead, I understand performance as a productive meeting point of multiple intelligences and media. Performance (through a park, within a protest, at a rehearsal, on a stage) provides an explosive site of parataxis: text and body and environment and music and… Of: simultaneity, dream-image, spectacle, hallucination, intimacy, immediacy, and collage. Of: pop-culture and obsolescence, real and play, aesthetics and ethics. Mine is a theater that is always asking: what is essential about live performance – that television or cinema just can’t tackle in the same way?

The original pieces I create, and the new or existing works I am attracted to as a director, are those which strive to challenge our inherited assumptions: about agency, spectatorship, identity, and community. I am invested in a theater of big ideas: curious, probing, intransigent (when necessary). I believe in the power of performance to promote and provoke controversy, critique, even discomfort and antagonism, just as much as it promotes and provokes exuberance, laughter, amusement, and joy. I believe in the power of irreverence; but an irreverence that serves reverence in an effort to tease out – aesthetically and politically – intangible truths about belonging, collaboration, and civic responsibility. To believe in theater is, for me, to believe in the enduring persistence of radical possibility.