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In Performance: Michelle Ellsworth, The Rehearsal Artist (American Realness Festival)

The Rehearsal Artist
Michelle Ellsworth
American Realness, The Invisible Dog
Jan 9 – 11, 2017

Michelle Ellsworth’s Rehearsal Artist is a 35-minute experience for less than a dozen people at a time. There are clear directions at the beginning of the experience. Everything else that follows is utterly surprising, unnerving, and profoundly revealing. Describing this work any further would be a disservice to the elusive universe Ellsworth has created. Instead, I offer some of my personal thoughts and questions coming out of the piece.

Sitting in the audience I found myself obsessing over other people being able to see me. I wondered why the performers never looked scared. I found myself steeped in my own complicity. I had to admit that I labor consistently without ever asking why. My lack of agency materialized. My sense of danger intensified. I was somehow delighted and mortified the entire time. I walked out angry, grateful, and stunned. The Rehearsal Artist has lodged itself in my brain where it will sit for a long while.

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