Featuring the work of: About Face Youth Theatre • Albany Park Theater Project • Barrel of Monkeys • Every house has a door • FEMelanin • 500 Clown • Free Street Theater • Honey Pot Performance • Lookingglass Theater • The Neo-Futurists • The Second City • Southside Ignoramus Quartet • Teatro Luna • Walkabout Theater • Young Fugitives
Ensemble-Made Chicago brings together a wide range of Chicago theater companies to share strategies for cocreating performance. Cocreated theater breaks down the traditional roles of writer, director, and performer in favor of a more egalitarian approach in which all participants contribute to the creation of original material. Each chapter offers a short history of a Chicago company, followed by detailed exercises that have been developed and used by that company to build ensemble and generate performances. Companies included range in age from two to fifty years, represent different Chicago neighborhoods, and reflect both the storefront tradition and established cultural institutions. The book pays special attention to the ways the fight for social justice has shaped the development of this aesthetic in Chicago.
Assembled from interviews and firsthand observations, Ensemble-Made Chicago is written in a lively and accessible style and will serve as an invaluable guide for students and practitioners alike, as well as an important archive of Chicago’s vibrant ensemble traditions. Readers will find new creative methods to enrich their own practice and push their work in new directions.
Staging Process examines contemporary collective creation practices, with particular focus on the work of four third wave American performance ensembles: Goat Island, Elevator Repair Service, Nature Theater of Oklahoma, and the TEAM. The book examines ways in which these groups create blueprints for developing collaborative performance, entwining methodology with emerging performance aesthetics.
Rachel Anderson-Rabern explores the ideas of boredom and quotidian employment that permeate particular performance projects. Using Henri Lefebvre’s concepts of work roles within everyday philosophy, she demonstrates that collective creation gives rise to new economies of performance. The book also presents theories of the political stakes of danced gestural forms in performance, informed by Giorgio Agamben’s writings on gesture, and elaborates the ways in which these ensembles make use of durational performance to posit ethical frameworks: ways of living in the world.
Conversing with the ideas of Paul Virilio and Guy Debord among others, Anderson- Rabern claims that these groups posit new models of aesthetic politics through careful, speed-based investigations of construction and destruction that unearth the powerful potential of contemporary collaborative methods to be at once aesthetically minded, ethically driven, and politically engaged.