pell-mell – 3/6/14

Some general notes from an event at RISD yesterday… Pell Lecture hosted by Arlene Goldbard, with the great Sokeo Ross and others… A few of us were given six minutes each to say a few things…




Food and Shelter

Patience and Felony

[Cast the audience]


Food and Shelter

Some good soup kitchens I’ve worked at – Agape Café (IC), St. Anthony’s (SF), Mathewson

All have theaters, all have beds.

I began to see this confluence often enough that it seemed more than accidental.

I like specialized theaters, but they are collapsing (or poised for change; changing). They are not integrated at an architectural level with the care of the body or the flow of daily life. It is harder and harder to fill them, so they’re looking to modify their shapes.


Models: New Dramatists; La MaMa; potentially Mathewson. I’d like to see a national network of these spaces


Patience and Felony

I write about trauma around violence, especially genocide. To be hopeful, the esthetic requires open space to promote a sense of the possibility of navigation, if even among ruins, and broken time – time broken through in resistance to frozen time, which damage can promote. So I like to write in series; Soulographie was the last series in 2012 – 17 linked plays about various genocides performed in big batches over a ten day period.


This productive breakdown and life-in-the-ruins is associated in my mind and practice with transgression. Time and space are money, but can be stolen, occupied, captured and cracked. I’m drawn to unusual spaces, with a sense of the out of bounds. Of the two thieves on the hill, one was a good thief; he recognized heaven as out-of-bounds; he knew he had to allow himself to be stolen – Christ comes like a thief in the night. The bad thief is not a bad person, but a bad thief – he didn’t understand the premise of his occupation, which was to critique ownership – even his own.


B. Five Actions for Providence


Avignon by 2020

7 Downcity Spaces

Downcity density

Communication with and among the schools



Give Dorothy Jungels, Bert Crenca, Don King and Erminio Pinque lots of money.

They’re artists in residence for 5 years. They make work; perform it downcity and tour it across Providence. Rhode island style, we treat ourselves like Texas, we develop the habit of touring, but at our scale –  a mile at a time. The kabal is responsible for making their own work, promoting the work of each other, and agitating conversation between art workers.


Avingnon by 2020

Let’s build on momentum around an annual street-performance festival and promote ourselves as a global in this area. This seems in line with our urban personality. Let’s keep what’s going alive, and live more.


7 Spaces

There’s the stage at AS220, unjuried and democratic access.

There’s 95 Empire, focused on residencies and experiment.

Assist in the renovation of Mathewson St.’s 4th floor space, which is working now as a consortium of art-for-social-change workers.

Assist in the renovation of Roots – a producer/presenter of new works.

Then two mid-sized theaters, which could be homes for new companies, existing companies, or consortia of companies, such as Gamm, Second Story, the Wilbury group… So as not to poach, this could be a second home or a place to extend runs.

(Trinity is our state theater and should be encouraged in the directions its taking regarding civic dialogue and service.)


Downcity Density

Increase the sense of scene by adding genuinely mixed income, the preservation and expansion of services, a grocery store, and better transit. Crucially, there needs to be a place for more-than-recreational public assembly: ritual and protest. Conflicted – busses…


Communication With and Among the Schools

That Brown, RISD, RIC, URI, J&W and whoever else can come aboard continue to reach out to each other and into the community. On the table: a Design MA that woud more formally link Bronw and RISD (has been tried before, but the timing looks right) and a 4th year for the MFA students, where they would be enabled to stay a year beyond their degree, feeding energy into public performance.

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