Our work lives between experimental performance, installation, and popular media. We ponder questions of gender, nationality, and race through images of ethnic ambiguity and the juxtaposition of unexpected points of cultural reference. The body is the central focus and speaks in multiple theatrical languages about power, love, time, and cities. Our own writing mingles with texts from others.
Theory is an integral part of our process; we are informed by scholarship as we work and in turn, our performances seek both to delight and to provoke reflection.
We also teach. We guide performers in imagining multiple relationships between text, body, rhythm, and space. Our teaching is inspired by our performance work and our performances are nourished by our dynamic experiences with students.
A lecture-demonstration goes haywire when the colonial object of inquiry refuses to cooperate with an eminent authority’s bombastic pontificating about traditional Indian theater. Multiple performance codes and genres intersect and collide when the scholar and the practitioner veer off into a romp through academic politics. Questions about the validity of art and the business of higher education emerge as the two experts grapple – literally – with the gendered, raced, and sexual assumptions that construct knowledge. The audience finds itself a protagonist at the center of a performance that continuously slips across boundaries of theater and “reality,” and naturalism and the absurd. And by the time the requisite “Q and A” starts, the spectators have become collaborators in artistic exploration and cultural critique. To the Academy lasts anywhere between 45 minutes and however long the audience determines it should last. It is a work that transforms any studio, gallery, classroom, or lecture hall into a performance space using familiar objects available on site and practical lighting.
To the Academy has been performed at California State University at Long Beach, the University of California at Los Angeles, Brown University, and the Roski Talks public series at the University of Southern California.
This work-in-progress examines what it means to love in the knowledge that all things are impermanent. Through many hours of physical improvisation with two suitcases, we explored the meeting of two people constantly on the move. We found ourselves reacting to what was happening with our own words and with preexisting texts from dramatic literature, tabloids, and music lyrics. Characters that straddled autobiography and fiction spontaneously appeared. Through repetition of the same texts and gestures with different intentions, a narrative emerged in which two people experience various moments in their relationship at the same point in time. Now we can say that our project has arrived at a question. How do relationships shift if we allow ourselves to experience them as beginning and ending all at once?
This summer institute, hosted by Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design, was dedicated to experiments in collaborative performance practice. As invited artists-in-residence we began work on our current piece, In Transit, and led a group of undergraduate and graduate students from multiple artistic disciplines in workshops on using everyday gestures and spatial relationships to build theatrical physical scores.
This production of Jorge Cortiñas’ play was staged at the Department of Theatre Arts at California State University at Long Beach. The themes of youth, displacement, and self-discovery resonated with our own experiences as children of immigrants. And we saw the opportunity to use the play’s construction of the landscape of memory and its playful treatment of the tropical bird characters as an ideal context to introduce dramatic principles drawn from traditional forms of Indian theatre. The actors were on stage the entire performance and moved between the “neutral” embodiment of self, witnessing the stage action on one hand, and the playing of characters engaged in those actions on the other. The playwright’s specifications for a “pared down style of staging – no blackouts, no costume changes and no attempts to achieve naturalistic illusion” were impetus for the actors to create time and place through action. The use of only a few props in multiple ways suggested a variety of objects. Working with a physical score that moved between gestures of heightened theatricality and realism, the actors embodied both an illusory world of memory and a world anchored in the present.