Like musicians, performers are natural boundary crossers, taking their performances to all parts of the world. While many performers, actors, and troupes have repertoires where they feel most comfortable, that doesn’t stop them from seeking new plays, new theatrical conventions, new combinations of performance materials that re-imagine old genres and create startling productions. The theater moves into the streets, East meets West in Japanese Kabuki performances of ancient Greek dramas, and actors find new voices with which to speak ancient words anew. Masks and Puppets, international tales, and new forms of acting all become part of the interstitial toolkit.
On these pages contributors present an ongoing selection of performers and troupes, old and new; some well known and some whose very interstitiality may have kept them from the public limelight.
DEBORAH ATHERTON, 2010
“Since we don’t have a YouTube video of this performance, which I suspect even today, with all our sophisticated expectations of people transcending genre and melding a variety of media, would be a lot of fun to attend, we will have to use our imaginations. We’ll have to picture ourselves sitting in one of the beautiful, highly gilded opera halls that dotted up in the oddest places in America, from South Dakota and Kansas to the northernmost reaches of Maine, while the handsome man in the white suit introduced us with his smooth voice and salesman’s skill to the Scarecrow, and the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion, as the orchestra played. He would offer his hand to each of the characters, standing immobile in a reproduction of one of the lush color illustrations of his work, and they would step off the page to meet us and talk and sing with each other on stage.”
DEBORAH ATHERTON, 2010
“If ever there was a genre with highly specified borders and devout artists and audiences guarding them, it is opera. In the popular mind, at least, opera is sung in German or Italian or French on grand stages like the Met to people dressed in tuxes and evening gowns peering through opera glasses… Of course, it’s been a long time since that was the only kind of opera in town, and there have been a number of great American operas in the last 100 years, but the question of what is real opera, what is music theater, what is performance art, and what is all this other stuff, persists enough in the field so that when a small company like CCO defines itself, it is still obligated to explain that yes, it is offering that wildly innovative thing, contemporary opera in English.”
DELIA SHERMAN, 2010
“They’re not brothers, in case you’re wondering. And they don’t fly. They juggle – mostly with plastic pins (sometimes with bells on), but also with eggs (raw), balls (ping-pong), bodhrans, and nine “items of terror” (a meat cleaver, a lighted torch, an egg, a wooden salt shaker, a bottle of champagne, a frying pan, a block of dry ice, a ukelele, and a plastic fish). Also a bag of Jell-O, a frozen cappuccino, and a bottle of vodka donated by the audience. They juggle very well, too, especially considering that they trade witty repartee, and sometimes play musical instruments and even dance while they’re doing it. But even I, whose circus experience is limited to buskers in Harvard Square and a handful of boutique circus shows, know that their juggling is not in and of itself unique or genre-breaking.”
MIDORI SNYDER, 2004
“The Ziggurat Theatre Ensemble is a visionary troupe of performers who borrow from the rich traditions of folklore and world myth and then transform these venerable stories into extraordinary stage events.”
BARTH ANDERSON, 2003
“Equal parts activist organization, avant-garde art troupe, and spiritual core of Minneapolis’ far left, In the Heart of the Beast’s productions feel more like shamanic messages from the Other Side than puppet shows.”
INTERSTITIAL ARTS FOUNDATION
Here is an ongoing list of interstitial films recommended by contributors. These are works that do not fit neatly into any one category and often break new ground altogether. Different contributors have different ideas about what makes film interstitial, which is why we have asked them to annotate and sign their recommendations.