“I am Bleeding All Over the Place…” is a protracted performance in the form of a series of studies on directing. The New Museum presents the first three of nine studies that comprise this two-year project. Each iteration takes a variety of forms: some will be clearly scripted, scored, and rehearsed to perfection, while others will be developed or literally “written” in front of an audience. This examination of the director’s role through different encounters argues that bodies are never neutral. “I am Bleeding All Over the Place” proposes a kind of theater where each person operates as both reader and maker, and where the potency of a performance happens in the experiential, emotional, and phenomenological gaps produced by encounters between bodies.
The four I am Bleeding All Over the Place New Museum events are:
Are we in conflict?
“Are we in conflict?” is the first study in Brooke O’Harra’s ongoing project “I am Bleeding All Over the Place.” For this study, O’Harra will direct a group of performers (including Becca Blackwell, Babs Davy, Will Davis, Laryssa Husiak, Anna Kohler, and Caitlin McDonough-Thayer) as they address the project texts (written by O’Harra, Kristen Kosmas, Erin Courtney, and Heidi Schreck). The series of scenes are taken directly from the writers’ own daily experiences, they are recordings of quiet and unmarked encounters that are rife with desire and rage. O’Harra addresses the possibility that the experience of conflict may be gendered and that we need a new strategies for performing contemporary texts by women. This study assumes the form of a public encounter.
“Show me.” is the second study in Brooke O’Harra’s ongoing project “I am Bleeding All Over the Place.” For this study, O’Harra engages with the project texts (written by O’Harra, Kristen Kosmas, Erin Courtney, and Heidi Schreck) through the intimacy of directing her partner and lover Sharon Hayes. While addressing the gendering (and possible queering) of conflict on the stage O’Harra uses this personal study to use the re-performance of daily scenes between lovers and partners to investigate submerged and unannounced conflict inside the daily and the banal. The study assumes the form of a public encounter.
“It’s personal.” is the third study in Brooke O’Harra’s ongoing project “I am Bleeding All Over the Place.” For this study, O’Harra invites the auteur director John Jesurun to join her in directing and presenting the project texts (written by O’Harra, Kristen Kosmas, Erin Courtney, and Heidi Schreck). Both directors will present rehearsed scenes using the same performers (who include Becca Blackwell, Will Davis, Babs Davy, Laryssa Husiak, Anna Kohler and Caitlin McDonough-Thayer) and texts (the same texts from the earlier encounters). The event will be framed by a filmed conversation with legendary downtown writer and director Jeff Weiss. The study assumes the form of a public encounter.
A panel titled:
A conversation on a few topics relevant to actors, playwrights, directors, and artists, including gender, the everyday, and the extraordinary problem of “conflict removed”
In 1947, Tennessee Williams wrote in an essay, “The heart of man, his body and his brain, are forged in a white hot furnace for the purpose of conflict…and that with the conflict removed, the man is a sword cutting daisies….” Written in response to the legitimation and accolades that came with the explosive success of Streetcar Named Desire, Williams’s assertion points to the pervasive value of conflict: conflict as necessary for cultural production and conflict as a dramatic vehicle. Brooke O’Harra’s current project, “I am Bleeding All Over the Place: Studies in directing or nine encounters between me and you,” works in active resistance to such valorization. It offers, instead, an exploration of conflict that remains unannounced and, as such, creates new spaces or forms for the emotional, social, or political tension that exists in the so-called everyday or quotidian. This panel, made up of Sadie Benning, Erin Courtney, Moyra Davey, John Jesurun, and Kate Valk, and moderated by Brooke O’Harra, follows the first three studies of O’Harra’s project “I am Bleeding All Over the Place.” This group of artists comes together to address how their work (both solo and collaborative) engages tension inside of the everyday, the relationship of gender to the rendering of conflict, and the materialization of both conflict announced and unannounced in contemporary theater and art.
More about I am Bleeding All Over the Place: Studies in directing or nine encounters between me and you.
The Nine Encounters/Events
The project is a performance in the form of a series of studies. The performances are cumulative, as they will occur over nine events, but they will not culminate in one final performance. Each of the nine events/encounters will occur in front of a public and will operate as an individual performance event. Each will be, in its conceptual conceit, a study on directing but will take a variety of forms: some will be clearly scripted, scored and rehearsed to perfection and others will be developed or “written” literally in front of an audience. In many encounters I will be the sole director, but in others I will ask additional directors to join me in engaging the study.
The encounters/events will occur over a period of sixteen months. The first three will take place at The New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City. Subsequent encounters will be staged at theatrical venues in New York City, Seoul, London and Small Town, USA.
I intend to work in the studies with texts written by myself, Kristen Kosmas, Erin Courtney, and Heidi Schreck. The texts will be composed of a series of scenes are taken directly from the writers’ own daily experiences, they are recordings of quiet and unmarked encounters that are rife with desire and rage. I will be working with the banal details of living, with tension and conflict that is present inside of interactions but is not “announced”, I am responding, in part, to the work I have been doing as a director and a teacher that I’ve organized as an investigation of Feminism and Form. Work that I did with Susan Glaspell’s play Trifles around the feminist argument that takes the form of silence. And other work I’ve done with texts by contemporary female playwrights whose formal structure defies traditional staging and asks actors to change their approach to a “role” and to conflict and action. In I am Bleeding All Over the Place, I will work from a core argument that the body is not neutral and that the potency of a performance happens in the experiential, emotional, and phenomenological gaps between the actor and the audience.
I will be a performer in the studies, appearing as both the director and as myself – an androgynous lesbian living in a domestic partnership who also has a two-year old kid and a theater company and who often ends her description of some casual encounter with the comment, “I want to punch that guy in the face.” The “encounters” of the nine encounters that constitute the project thus replay interactions that have already taken place and frame the “encounters” that occur in the present moment of each performance event, those between me and the others: often actors, but also non-actors, artists, scholars, writers, and of course, the audience.
The encounters are contained, non-repeatable events and are not intended as a production or product. An encounter could be designed to address a question, something unresolved but asked. Or it could address and explicate a question that I have resolved as a director but want to demonstrate – i.e. space does this, or tension can be translated through the absence of relief, or the body is not neutral.