Sandy's Current Projects:
For about three years I've been mulling over the idea of mounting a
brand-new performance piece, but somehow the time didn't seem quite
right. Maybe it was the horrid climate of oppression and willful
ignorance that appears to dominate our national discourse these days,
or maybe it was just that the Geist was busy doing other things. But
it wasn't until I did a workshop at Camp Trans during the summer of
2005 that I got the feeling that people and circumstances were blowing
on that spark of an idea and making it brighten up a bit.
Also, and in spite of our oppressive political climate, I think we are currently seeing across the US the emergence of a slew of new academic Gender and Sexuality programs, units, or focuses, many of which include a Trans component, either specifically or via the LGBT umbrella term. After being invited to speak at three such programs in succession, I felt that the Geist might finally be giving me a nudge. There is no shortage of material, but I wondered for a long time about how I might make a contribution to Trans education and debates that wasn't already being well addressed by the many emerging Trans historians, social scientists, and theorists of our new generation. Obviously a performance was the way to go, but it took a while for me to wake up to that fact, and that it was not something my friends or students could push on -- the impetus had to come from me.
Eventually, it did. The Neovagina Monologues was inspired by Eve Ensler's work, obviously in regard to the title but also because the very idea of a multiply marked and problematic organ which bears witness can't help but take an ironic twist when reframed within a specifically Trans vocality: Neovagina, the technical term for a surgically constructed vagina, is a vexed, postmodern construct which, although firmly grounded in the realities of bodies and lived experience, until quite recently could only speak within contemporary medico-legal-technological discourses -- and at present seems to have an awful lot to say.
Obviously there was no shortage of raw material for the piece. I began with my own anecdotal experience, but quickly added those of friends, and am still reaching out for material from whomever cares to suggest it. Unlike my earlier work, this one is modeled quite specifically on the performances of Spalding Gray -- one person presenting a dramatic monologue while sitting at a table, with occasional sound augmentation. I'd been extremely impressed with Swimming to Cambodia, which I'd had the pleasure of seeing Spalding perform live, and had intended to use some video clips or slides and more sound effects for the Neovagina Monologues; but as soon as I started rehearsing, it was clear that the script had a life of its own. During the first run-through with dramaturg Honoria Starbuck, the material self-organized into first three and later two parts, each with a running time of seventy-eight minutes, meant to be performed on two successive evenings. Since that's not always possible, we worked things around to make either part stand alone as a complete performance, when necessary.
I'm still amazed at how quickly this piece came together when the time was right, and at how intractable I found anything like it to be up until that point. It started out a bit rough around the edges, but rapidly smoothed out with a bit of woodshedding and early touring. And because from a logistical point of view it's compact and relatively easy to mount, we've already had the honor of mounting it at several universities, including the European Graduate School EGS.
But for me, the work didn't quite jell as a full evening's entertainment until the Vortex Repertory Company's Bonnie Collum graciously agreed to be creative director and dramaturg for the first show I've ever opened in Austin. Bonnie took the performance in hand and, with the able cooperation of Music Director Chad Salvata, distilled and forged the script and my work onstage into a tight, two-hour show (with intermission). While we were hard at work rehearsing, Chad wrote a complete score, based on his observation of the rehearsals, complete with leitmotifs for each plot point. He composed and recorded furiously, managing to deliver rough recordings for each section so that we could fine tune the performance in synchronization with the music, and vice versa. It was a heavy and heady and exhilarating few months while the whole thing came together. We opened on schedule on November 29, and, thanks to Bonnie's publicity team's hard work, we played to full houses every night. There's a short (15 minute) clip of a bit of the Sunday night performance here.
And so it was that I was able to realize my dream of -- for once -- opening one of my shows in Austin. Bless you, Bonnie, bless you.
And while we continue to gear up for an actual tour, if you just happen to be an institution or venue with a hankering for edgy Trans theatre, drop me a line and my tour folks will be happy to respond.
More of Sandy's Work:
|INSTALLATIONS||PERFORMANCE, FILM, VIDEO|
|SANDY'S FAN CLUB||THE NEOVAGINA MONOLOGUES|
|THINGS WHO FLINCH (or perhaps anticipate)||SIMPLE IDENTITY|
| PGP: THE
PUBLIC GENITALS PROJECT |
NOTE: This project may not be suitable for children. Exercise discretion.
|APPARATUS FOR THE PRODUCTION OF DIACHRONY|
|APPARATUS FOR THE PRODUCTION OF RUMOUR||FICTION|
|DRIVE-BY THEORY||THANK GOD YOU'RE ALIVE|
|PRESQUE VU||FAREWELL TO THE ARTIFACTS|
|HELLO, ANYBODY?||THE SWORD IN THE SEA|
|TELEWRESTLING||THE LANGLEY CIRCUIT|
|THE SHROUD OF OUR LADY OF SANTA CRUZ||NON-FICTION|
|ALIEN ROADKILL||THE WAR OF DESIRE AND TECHNOLOGY AT THE CLOSE OF THE MECHANICAL AGE|
|CYBORG DETECTOR||THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK: A POSTTRANSSEXUAL MANIFESTO|
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