NET/TEN Shareback: Lisa Fay and Jeff Glassman Duo - Collaboration with Yu Jin Gyu

Spring 2015 Travel Grant Recipient

Fay|Glassman Performance (Urbana, IL) participated in an artistic exchange with Yu Jin Gyu, founder and former Director of the Chuncheon International Mime Festival (Chuncheon, South Korea), at the suggestion of Jung Dae Kyung (director of “D.Festa” Daehangno International Small Theatre Festival, Chair of the Korea Small Theatre Association, and member of the Arts Council Korea.) The artists shared composition and performance techniques to manifest the core structure of an evening-length work, and developed international touring strategies.


Lisa Fay and Jeff Glassman Duo collaboration with Yu Jin Gyu

Without fluency in a common spoken language among collaborators, there were difficulties dealing with the nuances of a movement-based form.  What rethinking of collaborative process was needed to go forward?  The following is a glimpse into the process we evolved.  We three collaborators made tentative first moves, put some movement ‘items’ onto the floor, pondered them, and then leveraged them into a common set of references, building from there, all the time moving toward a core metaphor binding the action to an abstraction, a concept. We found our metaphor in the idea of the “precariat,” a recently coined term in economics (from Guy Standing) pertaining to the increasing marginalization of people through the systems of the 21st Century.  We were careful to give the new piece an integrity that reflects the rich histories of the artists involved, without simply blending our concepts together or coming to a middle ground or common denominator.  Yu Jin Gyu was fantastically intelligent and creative in the give and take of this project. Perhaps if we could have relied on a common spoken language we would have succumbed to easy agreement. Instead, we benefited from the wonderful misfit of our ideas.

For our shareback we have chosen to share:

1. A set of video links to performance clips and interviews available on the internet to serve as an introduction to Yu Jin Gyu.

2. A PDF of observations about how the collaboration work grew (interspersed with photographs meant to juxtapose the two different approaches we brought together in a creative ‘clash’) with a page of several additional photos.

3. The steps of the collaboration as it has unfolded along with a sketch from Lisa that we referred to a lot during the work process that set the piece's parameters from the beginning. She designated the use of a 25-yard-long piece of white cotton cloth as the constraint for the action, and that's what we responded to.

We hope to make this a useful and encouraging contribution to all who are working in the field, and we would love to hear from you at any time.

-Lisa Fay and Jeff Glassman

Part 1 - Introduction to Yu Jin Gyu

Performance Clips

TEDxSeoul National University

Performance at Arario Museum


This is an interview that occurred (prior to the collaboration) for ARTS COUNCIL KOREA, December 2014. It was conducted by YU JIN-GYU, eminent mime, founder and former Director of the Chuncheon International Mime Festival, with Lisa Fay and Jeff Glassman, and was published in webzine ARKO.

Part 2

Two Different Approaches Brought Together In A Creative ‘Clash’

Click the image to download as a PDF

Part 3 - Process Steps & Sketch

1. Jung Dae Kyung, (director of “D.Festa” Daehangno International Small Theatre Festival, Chair of the Korea Small Theatre Association, and member of the Arts Council Korea) brought us, Lisa Fay and Jeff Glassman, together with Yu Jin Gyu (eminent mime, founder and former Director of the Chuncheon International Mime Festival) in Seoul, South Korea to suggest we form a collaboration.

2. Fay and Glassman sent video documentation of several solo works to Yu Jin Gyu.

3. Yu Jin Gyu responded with video documentation and texts matching certain of his solo works to the solo works he watched of Fay and Glassman.

4. The cross cultural dialogue engaged in with the solo work shared in this way led to an embrace of the idea of elevating the cultural clash, the differences between the two ways of working and their different forms, to a theme.  The title of the eventual new project “Difference and Common” was chosen by Jung Dae Kyung.

5. Yu Jin Gyu and Jeff met in Seoul in a small studio and worked for one week on a new piece using initial ideas from Lisa, and keeping in touch with Lisa by internet conferencing and email. Sketches of potential graphic scores and pictures were sent back and forth.  Much freedom was given and taken in the unfolding of the new work, while Yu Jin Gyu, Lisa and Jeff moved closer to a unifying idea without losing the artistic and formal references to the very different kinds of work done by Yu Jin Gyu on the one hand and Lisa and Jeff on the other.

6. The absence of a common spoken language among collaborators, to handle a movement-based art form, led to an idiosyncratic artistic collaboration process, partly through an interpreter, partly through English, partly gestural, and partly sketched on paper.  My experience in the studio was the following (I would not presume to speak for Yu Jin Gyu, who is a wonderful collaborator): Given the extreme time constraint (to make a 30-minute piece in one week) we became quickly accepting of one another’s ideas all along the way, with each of us absorbing every contribution the other made, and then making a counter-move, like we were playing chess.  For the two of us in the studio, once we established the process, the detailed form of the piece fell into place quickly, with great pleasure and lots of laughter.  We caught on to one another.  The charm of the collaboration in the studio also had to do with the fact that we are practically of the same age, very similar in size and build, with surprising parallels in our professional histories – the “difference and common.” We trusted and respected one another right away, feeling from the start that, in the studio, the immediacy of the artistic working relationship – face to face – took precedent over all factors of language and cultural context.  Suddenly, gladly, we were without pretense facing one another, to play as we know how, under the eyes of Lisa as the singular and guiding collaborator-at-a-distance.  And so we worked.


Two of Lisa Fay’s notes sent to Yu Jin Gyu and Jeff as initial parameters and idea for the piece.




Lisa Fay and Jeff Glassman Duo

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Monday, July 18, 2016

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