the swells

In Collaboration with Marty Shnapf

Performed: Reed’s RAW Art Week/Portland, OR. (2007)

The Swells is a lecture written by Marty Schnapf on the concept and experience of ego as a form shaped through individuality and interaction, given from a small stage to an empty audience. The speaker’s movements are choreographed. His voice is pre-dubbed. A live DJ accompanies. The actual audience stands behind the lecturer on a gymnasium floor. The floor is taped to designate regions of the concepts being presented. A dance instructor follows choreographed paths through the audience. When she hears something she feels may require clarification, she interrupts the speaker and leads the audience in group-dances intended to embody the concepts being spoken. In a region called the Theater within the Theater, a puppeteer plays out the performance as it progresses. The puppet show is projected on a two-way screen in a large window. Though passersby cannot see in, they can watch an interpretation of
the work as it unfolds. Eventually the speaker is pulled off the stage by the Dance Instructor to tell a personal story. The two performers return to the stage together for the final portion of the lecture. In his last lines (a repetition of his first lines) the speaker faces the audience and actually speaks for the first time. Across the room, a town crier belts from his pedestal, declaring in stilted poetics the dissolution of spoken concepts and the genesis of their physical manifestation as a dance party.

This work was created with DJ Mathew Quite, Puppeteer Maggie Taylor, Town Crier David Eckard and lighting designer Malina Rodriguez with Technical Direction by Brian Monberg.

Video by Sean Barrett.