I’ve been thinking about you — Dan Fishback

I’m always so mortified to show unfinished material, especially in bits and pieces.  My work tends to be very contextual, which is to say: an isolated chunk may seem trivial by itself, but takes on a wider meaning through juxtaposition, framing, etc.  And yet a big part of this job is all about isolating those unisolatable chunks.  I’ve just spent the better part of the past few days editing video footage of a recent workshop, seeking out the perfect five minute clip on which I can bet my future.  But it’s part of the game.  To be the wicked parent from the Caucasian Chalk Circle, perpetually chopping up your babies.

Anyway, this is all just to say: My recent Open Studio at BAX was a challenge to concoct (though ultimately rewarding, with tremendously helpful feedback from the audience).

Whenever my process is made public, I become (naturally?) preoccupied with the audience.  Most artists I know get very angry when you mention the audience.  Especially non-American artists!  They always seem more likely to think about their art in terms of their own self-fulfillment and personal vision.  American artists seem a little more self-conscious, a little more eager to please.  (A little more like they’re running for office?)

I am American, and I never know what I want.

So many different people have seen so many different versions of this piece, and they all want different things.  I am embarrassed to admit in a public forum how much this confuses me. But honestly, if you’re sitting in my audience watching my show, I really care about what you’re thinking.  I really want you to follow me, trust me, get uncomfortable with me…. I don’t need you to like me, or like the show, or even have a terribly good time, but, in the case of “thirtynothing,” I really need you to walk away having considered some very specific ideas about history, about AIDS, about death, about civic responsibility…  And the more I think about that — the more I think about my NEED for you to think these things — the more I realize that experimental theater isn’t about experimenting WITH theater.  It’s about experimenting with YOU.