Aaron Schroeder is a very fine young actor who directs and performs in a theatre art collective called, Unidentified Artist Sightings. He's been very busy organizing for the Dumbo Arts Festival, 'The Map Is Not The Territory', an exhibit that will feature the work of over 30 artists from around the world spanning different artistic disciplines.
ML: Tell us about what you're doing for the dumbo arts festival.
AS: I will be performing a portion of my one-man show "Box Theory" during the festival. The piece itself will be interesting because it is taken completely out of context from the rest of the show (this is the final part in the 5 section work). The reason I chose this work was because in the arch of the piece the character devolves and fragments until he is basically spewing out a kind of post-modern poetry with pointed subconscious resonance. When writing it I gave specific attention to the sound of the words and its musicality. I truly tried to craft a new form of theatrical monologue forcing the audience to negotiate between participation and complete submission. That may be really heady...but basically the final section straddles the line between performance art and theatre in a way I have yet to see, so I thought I'd try it out in a gallery setting. It may still be too "conventional" but we will see. The show is about my involvement with the program, so I think it's a perfect opportunity.
ML: It's a group of artist actors performers you're working with?
AS: I am performing as part of an exhibition called The Map Is Not The Territory. This exhibition is being presented by the group of mentors/mentees involved with the 2009 NYFA Immigrant Mentorship Program. The exhibit will feature the work of over 30 artists from around the world spanning different artistic disciplines. I am a part of the performance component for our Friday night opening.
ML: I'm curious, is their a distinction in performance in work that is performance art or work that is theatre? Is there a distinction there or a different approach for you or does it all blend it? You work in a lot of venues, formats.
AS: As far as the distinction between performance art and theatre I think more and more those lines are blurring. At least for me it has a lot to do with context and maybe the focus of the artist. For instance, out of context my piece could be considered more performance art because it doesn't really tell a story or have a narrative, it is more about witnessing this unraveling. However, there is very little attention in this new context of the gallery to the visual elements which I think often play a large role in performance art. What I will be doing is simply performance. Art or Theatre, Poetry, whatever I'm not sure. I do perform in many types of venues: bars, galleries, theatres, cabaret spaces. I think each space has its own code of conduct in a way that shapes the relationship to the work you're seeing. I think it's in the interest of the performer to think of their work with that fluidity and embrace the distinctions in venues. Unless of course you're making a point about it. But otherwise, art at least in performance is about audience. So you've always got to bring them along.
ML:Tell us about some of your own work and what you've been doing lately.
AS: I have this underground theatre movement called Unidentified Artist Sightings that I am constantly working on. We're sort of a cult, with a cult following, a pledge, a secret website and guerilla advertising. Their is a degree of anarchy to the idea. We basically put up theatre in bars and other unconventional spaces--this theatre however is always created in a 24 hour period and about taking risks, being experimental and exploring impulse. We're trying to bring the hype of a rock concert and the excitement and energy of an improv show together in a true-to-the-form theatre context. The work is scripted, it is crafted and then performed all within 2 days. The rest is the scariest thing you will ever do. But i think it's a great opportunity for actors to go crazy in a safe environment. I think it's working. Audience love it.
Also I'm writing a new solo show that I'm hoping to perform at the end of this year. It's all about quantum mechanics, the internet, religion, Obama, you know...all the big topics. I'm excited by it. I always go after tackling the big questions or at least on a metaphoric level making the big questions the seed of all my work. That's what I love about theatre. I can talk about things I know nothing about and make convincing points without any proof. WAY better than college:) The writing is all most done, so soon I will start putting it on its feet and exploring it physically and with a director.
I guess, other than that, I've been working on this film with you, Marc Lafia, which has been fun. It's always exciting to get the opportunity to explore stuff and craft work with many different eyes and perspectives working at once. Conventional movies are often made in the editing room, but movies with marc are just as much made in the moment of filming, which is EXTREMELY rewarding and exciting. So yeah. I love collaborating and I love self-scripting work and being critical in a philosophical way about life and society and your films are definitely a vessel for that kind of exploration.
ML: Thanks. I love this space between theatre, performance, art, poetry that you're exploring. It's great for me, and I am sure others, to hear what you are doing in a concentrated interview like this. I look forward to seeing you tomorrow night.
The Map Is Not The Territory, 111 Front Street gallery 220 Friday Sept 25 from 6-9pm (opening with performances)