Prelude.12 Coming Up This Week
Starting Wednesday, October 3, the 2012 Prelude Festival kicks off at the Martin E. Segal Center at the CUNY Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Ave. (through Fri., Oct. 5; free entry space available).
There are many fantastic artists presenting works-in-progress, portions of complete (or near-complete) works, or interactive performative events during the festival, but this year we’re happy to report that the one can’t-miss event is at 9:30 pm Thurs., Oct. 4, when, er, Culturebot presents a work-in-progress showing of a portion of Everyone’s a Critic, a new critical intervention commissioned by and premiering at On the Boards in Seattle in March 2013. We welcome everyone to come check out what we’re working on. We’ll be soliciting responses of some sort following, and we appreciate your support and, well, criticism.
Otherwise, curators Caleb Hammond and Helen Shaw, who continue to refine and develop the structure of the festival have grouped projects into four categories casting wide nets.
First, just because we’re part of it, is “Imitation of Participation.” Roughly speaking, these artists are exploring varied forms of participatory and social practices. 600 Highwaymen I want to specifically call out because of what I saw them do in Austin at the 2012 Fusebox Festival. Embedded in the community for several weeks, they presented a production of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman that I went into thinking I’d hate and left deeply impressed. Employing movement, non-traditional performance methods, and site-specificity, it was, weaknesses and all, one of the most empathetic and affecting productions of that overdone war-horse of a show that I could imagine. Everyone Was Chanting Your Name is, as the press copy notes, “a living portrait of eight individuals spanning six decades in age.” If that doesn’t intrigue you, don’t be dissuaded; I was skeptical too but I would name this as a can’t miss.
Then there’s Sibyl Kempson, who’s showing part of River of Gruel, Pile of Pigs, a multi-year collaboration with members of four of Austin’s finest theater companies. Hoi Polloi‘s Alec Duffy–who, IMHO, is one of NYC’s finest emerging/emergent directors–has collaborated with the festival’s curators for an impersonational exploration of perspective and authority that is the keynote for the series. And then there’s Annie Dorsen, who’s presenting Spoken Karaoke, a participatory event that just debuted at “Truth Is Concrete,” an experimental camp on the intersection of art and politics presented by the Steirischer Herbst Festival in Graz, Austria, which situates participants, karaoke-style, as enactors of famous and infamous oratorical acts.
There’s more but I’m just offering examples. Another series is “The Future of the Cinema Is the Stage,” a series exploring intersections of film, media, and theater. Taking multiple presentational forms, work will be presented by (and featuring) artists as diverse as Young Jean Lee, Nature Theatre of Oklahoma, Daniel Fish, the Wooster Group, Jack Ferver, and Phil Soltanoff. A third series is “Return of the Singspiel,” which explores contemporary artists moving into and coming from but expanding the boundaries of cabaret, including Molly Pope, Bridget Everett, Josh Conkel, and, perhaps most provocatively, Andrew Ondrejcak and Shara Worden.
Finally, and perhaps the most interesting expansion of the programming this year, is the “Manifestos” series. Ranging from Richard Foreman to Miguel Guttierez to Leah Nanako Winkler (whose subject, indeed, we suspect we may know something of), this series, which unfolds over three and a half consecutive hours starting at 6:30 on Wednesday, gives artists a chance to–using diverse methodologies–make unusually direct statements about their concerns about and approach to art-making. As a critic and writer, I can assure readers that this is both the main thing I speak with artists about and yet the hardest thing to get concrete statements on. Prelude is creating a unique and–if not original–historically important platform for contemporary artists to speak directly about their concerns. I’m probably failing to make this properly preview-sexy, but this is a crucial new tool and potentially far-reaching exercise, easily one of the most provocative elements of the festival and the one I most anticipate/dread.
Additionally, I’d be remiss not to name ourselves as not only a participant but also a “critical partner” of this year’s Prelude Festival, by which I mean Culturebot–along with the Contemporary Performance Network–will be embedded in a critical-participatory role. For our part, we’ll providing a platform and support to a half dozen young, emerging, or non-traditional critics: Jessica Applebaum, Kai Tuchman, Eric Shethar, Lydia Bell, Ryan Hatch, and Maxwell Cramer. So expect coverage throughout.