The End is the Beginning Is the End
There’s a certain irony in re-staging seminal performances. The fact that they’re tied fundamentally to the moment in which they happened runs the risk of turning them into museum pieces, since, at first blush, our goal in engaging with them is to understand what it was like to see it back then. Of course done right, as was the case with the Ishmael Houston-Jones/Chris Cochrane/Dennis Cooper piece THEM, they can also be quite astonishing. And companies like the Rude Mechs (with The Method Gun) and Gob Squad (with Kitchen...) have toyed to re-contextualizing the work to capture part of the initial essence of its affect.
Anyway, the point is that anyone who thought the remount of Einstein on the Beach coming to BAM would be the most talked about restaging of the fall season probably hasn’t noticed that buried within New York Live Arts’ season announcement is the news that Austin’s Rude Mechs are returning to restage Dionysus in ’69 Nov. 7-10. That’s right, the seminal Richard Schechner performance piece, arguably the very birth (following the Living Theater and Open Theater experiments) of the very concept of performance as a distinct practice. From what I gather they originally did it in Texas three or four years ago (spoiler alert–people were expecting more nudity than they got).
I have no details on this other than it’s supposed to be faithful to original, based on documentation like Brian de Palma’s 1970 film, which you can watch online here. What this says about the health of the field, I can’t begin to venture yet. A healthy engagement with genealogy is, I guess, good in the sense it forces us to consider whether the forms are progressing; on the other hand, too much focus backwards suggests a dearth of work being recognized in the present. Anyway, something to be further addressed later, otherwise just an interesting tidbit.