Monday Guests

Please welcome three guests to the blog — of many more to come, I hope! 

First, a bulletin From the Faculty Writing Workshop led by Andrew Sofer:

"Here in the faculty writing workshop, we have been busy delving into each other’s outlines and sample chapters, emphasizing what excites us and what we’d like to learn more about. This weekend we’ve been writing our own jacket copy for our books-in-progress. As part of his campaign to unclog academic prose, Andrew opines: “Consider the lilies of the field. They do not problematize, neither do they negotiate.”

Here are a few handy acronyms growing out of workshop. Feel free to add to the list. 

BTB: Block That Buzzword

CFAV: Can’t Find A Verb

TDTE: Tearing Down The Expert (who will be reviewing me) 

FOLSIO: Fear Of Leaving Someone Important Out

GMCUF: Get My Claims Up Front

JUMTOC: Jazz Up My Table Of Contents 

RDRN: Readers Don’t Read Notes 

TMT: Too Many Theorists

WMBTB: Who Must Buy This Book

WTHAITT: Who The Hell Am I Talking To"

Which acronyms will you have? I’ll take a TMT and WTHAITT, myself.

Meanwhile, Andrew Friedman contributed this account of Marc Robinson’s talk on Thursday night: 

Marc Robinson’s lecture, “Pieces: Excavating American Experimental Theater,” offered a glimpse at a pivotal moment in the history of New York’s experimental theatre.  Robinson focused on the “afterlives” of Robert Wilson’s Einstein on the Beach and Lucinda Child’s Dance, both of which are seminal, formalist works emerging from the anarchic impulses of the 1960s.  Importantly, the two productions have been granted a series of afterlives in the form of what Robinson called “reperformances.”  Video documentation of their original and ensuing iterations reveal the history of previous performers and technological limitations.  Key to this archive is the ways in which its material voids—the degraded video recording of Wilson’s work, the absence of Child from her own restaged choreography—express a larger inability to capture any performance whole-hog.  In some sense, these absences in the official record help to mark our own.  As Robinson illustrated through Wilson’s use of video from his Deafman’s Glance (1972) in his Shakespeare’s Sonnets (2009), these fragments operate as both “mile marker” and “tombstone,” pulling our focus in two competing directions at once. Rather than express a nostalgic longing, Robinson suggested that gaps in memory and material might be endemic to the experimental theatre’s aesthetic.  Robinson noted that the theatrical offspring of this moment—the Wooster Group to Elevator Repair Service to Nature Theatre of Oklahoma—now document their own work by embracing a partial view.  The documentary of ERS’ Gatz, for example, is a film of only the backstage action during performance.  For the following day’s discussion, Robinson contextualized the Wooster Group’s video recreation of Rumstick Road.  An assemblage of archival video, audio, and photography, the film at once recreates the show while revealing its dangling threads.  These material lapses offer a medium in which to consider the performance and how it moves forward into history.  As experimental theatre and performance nudges its way into the larger cannon of theatrical history, Robinson reminds us that the archival forms it takes in the cannon and our relationship to them is of increasing importance.  

Finally, and very importantly, this weekend will become synonymous for many of us with Crossing — that is, the American Repertory Theater’s commissioned Civil War-themed opera “Crossing,” written by Matt Aucoin and directed by the ART’s artistic director, Diane Paulus. Here is what we looked like before we went to the show.

To imagine what we looked like after the show, consider the question "Was the civil war about gay white people?" and (before you start fuming) read Elizabeth Tavares’ pointed critique here. Racism in the theater -- it never seems to get old.

Check out other excellent entries in Elizabeth's "playgoer’s notebook," too. 


See also: Ania Aizman