Paper Cities is an hour-long openly variable performance by two performers and a musician who interact with objects, books, recycled-material puppets, films and each other. Paper Cities disregards notions of well made plays, dance theatre and even puppetry to reveal performers working out the thorny, eternally disconnecting problems of human development re: resource management, immigration, exodus, language, printing, philosophizing, and ultimately losing sight of it all. It is a hybrid theatrical response to: the de-forestation of contested territories, the coyote’s threat and proliferation alongside man seen through our collective memory’s lens on a once open land. Based in imagined historical colonial narratives and how they led to the continued natural resource extraction model we live with today. An affront to the digital age of information, it refuses to reveal all the facts, like a book with many missing pages the “story” can only be pieced together archeologically, forensically, or later in dreams. Performers represent myriad experiences to create a moving poem, a grocery list of ideas, thoughts and feelings about cities, the past, paper, and what it may have once meant to be human. Paper Cities questions the precarious foundations and logic by which humans have constructed the built environment. What is truly being mined from both the earth and the human intellect? It asks the at once rhetorical and desperate question “have we forgotten our place and inextricable relationship with the natural world?”
Rao and Padma Makenini Play Development Center @ La Jolla Playhouse, City Heights Weingart Library Performing Annex
San Diego based artists Bridget Rountree and Iain Gunn are Animal Cracker Conspiracy, a contemporary collaborative hybrid puppet company invested in peering under the surface of things and pushing the boundaries of live kinetic performance. Joining forces in 2004 with a shared desire to collaborate on performances that would radically decenter expectations, open new avenues of thought and invoke the uncanny, they began combining puppetry, mixed media, film, visual art, and circus. Their ongoing performance practice is based in devising frameworks for collaboration, investigation, and discovery of the stories hidden amongst us. Their performances are inspired by art and the everyday, humans and animals, ideas of progress and hybridity itself. ACC seek emergent performative structures, that traverse abstractions of movement from the material to immaterial, folk to contemporary, and intellectual to intuitive. They actively cultivate the suspension of disbelief by employing immediate choreography and embracing the unknown. ACC have won awards at the several Fringe festivals, and have performed in the Toy Theatre Festival in DUMBO, at various Puppet Theaters, Galleries and Museums, at HERE Arts in NYC and at La Jolla Playhouse’s Play Development Center. They have received continued support from the Jim Henson Foundation, the Puppet Slam Network and the La Jolla Playhouse as well as grants from the Puffin Foundation, Sator Arts Foundation, Synergy Arts Foundation, The San Diego Foundation, and the Leo S. Guthman Fund.
Photo by: Rachel Dragonfly/ Animal Cracker Conspiracy
This post is part of a series of profiles on performance and performance makers from this year’s book, Contemporary Performance Almanac 2016, an overview of contemporary performance presented during the 2014/2015 season available for touring now. If you would like to be apart of next year’s book, Contemporary Performance Almanac 2017, you can join the project here.