SCV: When you say complete integration are you talking about what the Wooster group does with their onstage video monitors and synthesis of other dialectics?
Jennifer: Well we decided to take on James’ new play “Feeder,’ which we’ve been work shopping and developing for a future release, and I think what’s interesting about this play is how James goes after the themes of love, desire, human connection but this time what makes it more compelling is how the play begins at your house before you even arrive to the stage.
SCV: How does this work?
James: Well we decided to reflect on how in some way the technology, the cyber space has in some way created a disconnect in our community, and how we are living and longing for each other through our computers, and more love is representative by the amount of time you spend in front of the computer, and similarly in this love story the main characters act out their desire for their respective fetishes, (by continuous feeding to extreme levels) which now is fully catered for anywhere on the internet and how this serves to bring them together but at the same time pulls them apart.
So working with that we have the characters being presented to you on the web, introduced and disgorging on their particular fetishes, the way you might just log onto the computer and before you have arrived to the theater you already have a vested interest in these characters, in what they are pursuing and whether they will attain it, and whether they attain it is to some degree an extension of whether we ourselves will realize our particular emotional desires.
SCV: This came to you through your own particular fetishes?
James: (laughing) More of an attempt to understand how we try to connect in a modern day society and how in some way the increasing use of the internet has brought us all closer and closer and yet further away.
After all it’s interesting to note what may have traditionally cast you as an outsider before the internet’s arrival can now offer you an instant community now regardless of whatever fetish, or thing that turns you on.
Of course the play also finishes in your computer as well. It just happens to be dramatized on stage.
Jennifer: What I personally found invigorating about James’ piece is how it offers a bridge between electronic media and this idea that theater is supposed to be some destination. I think theater is ultimately about emotional connection and bringing different walks of life together.
SCV: Talking of the internet how does one take advantage of the internet to bring more awareness of what you are doing?
Jennifer: I like to call it guerilla marketing. First you have your immediate collective of artists, then your patrons, fans, and from there it’s building blocks to an awareness amongst the community that you’re out there doing this really compelling work and that they should be a part of it. Essentially word of mouth.
SCV: How useful is the media to this cause? I mean if I had to ask you which journal are you reading to garner more awareness of what is happening in the throes of theater who would you be reading?
Jennifer: Honestly, no one. I think most media outlets are reluctant to pick up on what theater is doing. Sure they’ll talk about some play that’s causing a stir, a musical, but they’re not really engaging in a discourse of what theater is about and what it reflects. Honestly I think they’re threatened, after all theater has the capacity to bring out some sores to take people to places they’d rather keep in the back of their minds.
SCV: But don’t you think with the advent of new electronic media, the same electronic platforms that you take to task might also now be offering the type of discourse that for the longest time had been the domain of the main press. But this time instead of shielding discussion champion it?
Jennifer: Look we are hopeful, and we are certainly willing to engage it, after all it’s a community project and if journals such as yourself keep taking a proactive stance then I think that’s a positive development.
James: I think it’s interesting how in Europe the level of funding given to the arts far surpasses that given to US theaters. If you do get financing and we have been fortunate to have been awarded grants it is often tied into a bigger bill as to how the money is to be used as opposed to the free expression of what life and theater is about. I think in the end it’s about sustaining an energy that will carry the community forward. It should be organic, whereby the theater community enlightens the audience and thereby eliciting the communities sensibilities and desire to keep coming back.
SCV: I’m curious about Mike Daisy who is opening your solo festival.
James: Well Mike, he’s a very controversial performer. He really upset a lot of people. He went out there and dissected the way regional theater has been playing , our nation’s responses to war, terror, our blindness to it, our complicity, and why there’s always a villain.