MY BARBARIAN: BROKE PEOPLE'S BAROQUE PEOPLES' THEATER (In conjunction with Emily Roysdon‘s “Ecstatic Resistence” at Grand Arts)
My Barbarian (http://www.mybarbarian.com/) will build a miniature replica of a Baroque theater, into which videos of performances (philosophical, pastoral, and political) will be projected. With the participation of a small group of participants, a series of allegorical patterned dances, machine plays, operettas, and tableaux vivant will be created. These miniature performances will be shot on video, using costumes and set pieces made by My Barbarian. The miniature wooden theater will feature special effects and set design adapted from 17th century techniques.
The Baroque festive performance, as a space for rhetorical play, served a political purpose, in support of the monarch and aristocracy. These festive occasions, which employed thousands of performers and artists across Europe throughout the 17th Century, were means of celebrating and historicizing specific events. This display of discourse within the context of the court had political ends for their elite audiences, massive expenditures that served the powerful. A few crumbs fell from the table, to be gobbled up by the hungry actors, scenographers, composers, costumers and other cultural producers of the time. The worldview of the Baroque era was one in which the top looked down upon the mass, who were poor, diseased and exploited.
In appropriating this historical category of spectacular performance, My Barbarian will invert its political aims. The performances will address economic inequity. The replica of the theater becomes a makeshift space for playing out our own critical celebrations in an uncertain period of political upheaval, broken systems, and spreading poverty. If Baroque theater serves as the text we are both exploring and reacting to, the models provided by Grotowsky's Poor Theater and the Italian Arte Povera movement (particularly Pino Pascali's 1964 Teatrino or "Little Theater") will function as complicating influences upon the Broke People's Baroque Peoples' Theater.
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