My look into the world of interactive theater, and large scale installation art had exactly who starting points.
The first point was planted, like a stake of a tent, securely into the damp ground of my life a year and a half ago during the month of October. I had never worked on a “run” of any show, let alone a month long run of up to four shows a day, but many cast members had. My good friend Richard Kimmel had asked me to participate as a character in an interactive, theatrical haunted house. The concept was fairly simple – after walking in you are separated from your friends at a staged wake, stuffed in a coffin, spun around into hell, after which you are taken up to purgatory [after which the show was named “Purgatorio”] where I was to escort the guests in with yelling and whips before running to take my place among the performance vignettes or designated go-go dancing areas where we killed time between performances from The infamous Box venue of nyc, after which we would herd the crowd yet another flight up to heaven where there were angel dancers and one performance per show, by one of my favorite voguers and performers, Yasmit. Ok, it was more simple than it sounds, at least after all the wrinkles were smoothed out by inevitable mishaps, poor planning or namely the sponsor’s lawyer who would walk around sending emails from his blackberry to the director with notes on censorship. The brunt of the creative blow weighed on the director and the cast, some of whom were let go and some of whom remained to piece together a very vanilla s&m halloween show. The one stable force was Vance Garrett, the producer of many large events in both nightlife and theater, as well as Purgatorio. Despite being paid a day rate more suitable for a PA, it was hard to be late, knowing you would get a polite inquiry and stern look from the man who was becoming the show’s emotionally unavailable mother X your mildly flirtatious middle school teacher, who was entirely responsible for your check at the end of each week.
The opposite stake of my rather figurative tent was planted this past December of 2010. I had been walking around the Scope show warehouse of regurgitated art when one booth struck me. The wall noted the exhibit [or sculpture] to be titeled A Viking Funeral, by Ryan O’Conner. There was a pile of coal with two beautiful iron gates propped up in it with a metal rod projecting vertically in the middle, supporting a generously reflective chunk of broken glass. I stopped. My two escorts who at the time were wearing body suits of silver material more glaring than the glass shard, were also stopped at the edge of the booth, looking up a ladder at a man teetering at the top, tinkering with a track light. “How’s this?” he asked. Here I stepped forward, no longer being able to hold back my objection [an occurrence more frequent than the inverse], I voiced the opinion that the chair of hammers was much too aggressive to have any business hiding in the back. An hour or two [I obviously lost count after the placement of the 5 foot hourglass shaped structure] I was sipping on Johnnie Black, discussing my choices with Ryan, who was starting to reveal some local Bushwick affiliations and friends. By the end of our chat I had determined him to be a local artist forever on the run from mediocrity as well as a small town / community mindset, despite being inseparable from some ancient staples of Bushwick party culture, mainly the Danger crew [and now Artists Wanted].
I have had a lot of worlds and stories collide, no doubt to my surprise as much as my readers’, but this was one was – as they say- for the books. I was told by Ryan, soon after our return from Basel | Miami | 2010 that I had to see the interior of this old club that had been remodeled into 6 floors of stages, with installations on every floor but the top most, and 22 actors playing out the story of Macbeth. As Vance stepped around the massive columns of the building to welcome our small group of wayward artists and visionaries, I let out a shriek of joy – of course he was producing this show. As he wound us through the tour, spouting facts and figures without much thought, it became apparent how many tours he must be giving privately in order to keep this show away from main stream advertising and press. The rooms were filled with endless stacks paper, whole and shredded, taxidermy, claw foot bathtubs filled with dirt, dirt filled rooms with forests and forests of hanging dolls around cribs and eggs in cribs of filing cabinets filled with shredded paper files. IT WAS INSANE, which I am fairly certain was the production goal. With an estimated budget of $8 million, and $75-$85 / ticket I would hope t0 loose an ounce of sanity, for at least the two hours of my life during which I am lost in a play.
Yours Truly be attending Sleep No More in the next couple of weeks – keep your eyes loosely open for reviews.
Curious Wednesday is a weekly column written and driven by the personality of Ms. Marquise discussing the insides of her head in relation to things around her. New topics can be found on the Bushwick Daily every Wednesday, while you can find her productions listed on False Aristocracy.