Thoughts on the Open Studio showings — 11/23/10

Marya Warshaw, Founding and Executive Director of BAX/Brooklyn Arts Exchange interviews Dan Fishback, current BAX Artist In Residence.

Marya Warshaw: Were they what you expected?
Dan Fishback: They weren’t what I expected at first, but they were what I expected by the time I started preparing.  When I first heard about the Open Studio, I thought I would have to actually rehearse in front of an audience.  I was very nervous about this, because I don’t think my rehearsal process would be very interesting for anyone to see.  Also, I wouldn’t really want anyone to see it.  It struck me at the time that the “Open Studio” idea was more appropriate for choreographers, since their rehearsal process is more visual, whereas mine involves constantly pausing for re-writes, as my director checks email on his iPhone.  I was relieved when I realized I had the option to simply present a segment of the show and engage the audience in a dialogue.  This ended up working particularly nicely, since that kind of dialogue is always part of my process anyway.

MW: Surprised by anyone who came?
DF: I was really excited and surprised that Glenn Marla came.  Most of my friends from the performance art scene are usually so inundated with shows for their calendar — I didn’t expect anyone to make time for anything less than a full performance.

MW: How did you decide what material you would share?
DF: I wanted to share just enough material that people would understand the concept of the show, so that we could have a thoughtful and informed conversation.  I also wanted to include part of the show that had been previously controversial (the home movies segment), to see what a NYC audience thought.

MW: Think you might the “right” choices?
DF: I think so.

MW: What feedback was helpful?
DF: My friend Michael Schulman (he used to direct my work and now writes theater blurbs for the New Yorker) was very enthusiastic about using images of my 1980s childhood.  He was insistent that more 1980s childhood images would resonate with others from our generation, and make them instantly feel more involved in the show.  He suggested things like He-Man, Muppet Babies, etc.  This was interesting to hear, because a previous draft of the show had a lot of material about super-heroes, which I juxtaposed with images of ACT-UP (real life super-heroes).  That stands out as the single most interesting feedback of the night.  It was all very helpful, both the conversation at BAX and the continuing conversation that some of us had at a diner afterwards.

MW: Anything else?
DF: I’m looking forward to the Works In Progress shows in January!