Naivete - I believe in, powerfully believe in -- that witnessing a piece of theatre should be a naïve experience. It’s kind of like the Grand Canyon. You come upon it, and it grips you. You don’t require any explanation or guidebook. Being an expert isn’t necessary. But if you are, say, a professional geologist, the experience can be richer because you’re tuned into a specialized knowledge. I feel similarly about theatre. This doesn’t mean dumbing
it down, by the way—I cringe when someone describes a work as “accessible.” Complexity, ambiguity, gray areas - all should be part of the experience. But the theatrical thought, what I like to call clarity of gesture, should be in every moment of the work. Great rigor is applied to every instant and this makes for a clarity of performance that anyone can taste. If a person chooses to enter the work, then they can. Admission doesn’t require anything more than eyes, ears and a willingness to engage. I like to say that I make theatre for anybody, but not everybody. There are certain people who prefer to sit home and drink a beer. That’s fine. But if they choose to come to the theater, then the theatre is there for them - and they possess the capability to take it in.
The Everyday/Infinite - I have made many pieces. And, for better or worse, I will continue to make many more pieces. Ideas and questions from one piece carry over and extend themselves into the next. Making work is a kind of itch that constantly needs scratching. It’s not about approval(although that’s always nice) or money (I would do it anyway). It’s about something else. It’s poetic. With each piece I leave what I like to call my
fingerprints ---sometimes I don’t understand them, but they always eat at me. Why did I do that? Why do I like that? Why must it go that way…and not that other way? I always seem to keep returning to a story: the relationship between the everyday and the infinite. PLAN B, for instance, is performed by four nondescript, ordinary guys in rumpled business suits. They’re everyday. But they’re performing on a huge, moving geometric plane: the set is a sign of the infinite. The plane is mathematic, perfect, flawless -- and four imperfect, human guys totally take it on. The Everyday and Infinite coexist and the project is made out of the dialogue between the two. I’ve made many pieces that continue that conversation.
The past couple of pieces I’ve made - I call chamber pieces. They were conceived and rehearsed in my apartment. Why? The cost of real estate (and consequently rehearsal space) in NYC has skyrocketed. My ideas, however, continue to blossom, so I just switched scale without compromising my artistic pursuits. But my ambition is to build large pieces with lots of performers, big spaces, and big themes that concern all of us. I’m currently on a
tear examining how people and technology interact. My interest isn’t concerned with the morality of the question (is that a good or a bad technology?) I’m determined to examine how our relationship to technology changes us. In other words, who is leading whom? What is this changing world that people and machines occupy and how has it altered our consciousness? To that end, I’ve worked with a collaborator and designed a system whereby opera singers sing a phrase into a speaker. The speaker is connected to a computer which chops the phrase and sends it back to the singer. The singer (now hearing the chopped computer version) then responds to the computer - and voila, a conversation of people and machines singing to
each other! When several of these people/machine loops are set up, a large choral work emerges.
To many people, Mondrian’s paintings give them a headache. But, I learned how to stage from him. A blue square is above the line, then it moves below the line and becomes larger, etc. etc. The interplay of minimalist changes is infinite. And then there’s the lines —the power that lives where two lines intersect or exist in close parallel. Mondrian taught me how to see a whole space and the changes within it. He makes me wonder, too: at what point does a line become thick enough to become a form? He turned me on to the aesthetic of pure art.
I believe I walk by the first moment of a masterpiece every day. Art comes from noticing it and doing something with it. I like to take everyday objects and places, things I’m familiar with (a sidewalk, plastic bags, a video image, street traffic, water bottles etc.) and make
the everyday into something unfamiliar, so it becomes awake and present again. Remove it from the perceptual junk pile, so to speak. This is harder than it sounds. Habit is habit-forming and perceiving something with a clean eye (absent from past and future associations) takes practice. But when it happens, what I’m looking at or listening to awakens. And I must share that awakeness with an audience - in all its humor and pathos. I find that wonderfully poetic.