Erika Chong Shuch Performance Project

About Erika Chong Shuch Performance Project

The Erika Chong Shuch Performance Project (ESP Project) is a group of artists and galvanizers who’ve been creating original performance work under the artistic direction of Shuch since 2001. The company’s topic-driven ruminations coalesce into imagistic assemblages of music, movement, text, and scenic design. Interested in expanding ideas around how performance is created and shared, our work has been performed in theaters, industrial offices spaces and food courts.The ESP Project creates original work, often in collaboration with theater companies, choirs and student groups. The company also supports the work of Erika Chong Shuch as a director and choreographer for theater.

The company was recently commissioned by YBCA to create For You, a series of performances for audiences of 12 people. Supported by the prestigious Creative Capital Grant, For You is an audience engagement performance laboratory that launches a multi-project investigation into the ways we can democratize art-making by inviting audiences into the development process. 

Current projects also include Iron Shoes, created in collaboration with Kitka Women’s Vocal Ensemble. Supported by Creative Work Fund, NEA, New Music USA, and Rainin, Iron Shoes is a contemporary, neo-feminist, folk opera transforming source material drawn from Eastern European fairytales into a contemporary performance experience. Iron Shoes received development support through residencies at American Conservatory Theater and Berkeley Rep and is currently in conversation with the SF Opera Lab about a premiere in their new alternative performance space.

In 2015, the ESP Project co-created City Council Meeting/ SF (Z Space), by Aaron Landsman, with the Local SF ending co-directed by Shuch and Mallory Catlett. From Landsman: “City Council Meeting is a participatory theater event about empathy, democracy and power.” Through collaborations such as these, the company has been inspired to develop new models for participatory theater that challenge how audiences engage with performance, in process and performance.

Love Everywhere (2010, commissioned by Dancers’ Group) was a series of site-specific events at multiple venues including SF City Hall and Glide Memorial Church. Inspired by the struggle for marriage equality, Love Everywhere began one Valentine’s Day morning with an action co-organized by Marriage Equality USA in which same sex couples showed up, applied for, and then were denied marriage licences. Following this action, a big faux wedding was staged throughout City Hall featuring 50 performers, an orchestra, and an audience that overtook the building. A scaled-down version of the work was also shared at Glide Memorial Church as part of the Great Reverend Cecil William’s Sunday Sermon. Collaborators for this work included same-sex couples that had been married legally at SF City Hall 6 years prior.

Commissioned by Gerbode Foundation’s Emerging Choreographers Award, the company created 51802, a work grappling with the ways incarceration imprisons the hearts and lives of loved ones “on the outside.” 51802 was part of Intersection’s Prison Project, a yearlong interdisciplinary investigation of the California prison system that brought together activists, scholars and artists. Through the Prison Project, we met many individuals who had incarcerated loved ones. We were moved to experience how the performance making process served as a vehicle to bring together diverse individuals who shared a fundamental loss.

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Berkeley, CA 94705

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