NET/TEN Shareback: L.M. Bogad - Creating a Crossroads

Spring 2016 Travel Grant Recipient

L.M. Bogad (Berkeley, CA) visited Kathy Randels of ArtSpot Productions (New Orleans, LA). They exchanged feedback about ongoing projects and served as “outside eyes” and trainers for each other. During their time together they worked on a collaboration about monuments, race, and social commemoration/conflict.


How to share skills at the point where divergent paths re-converge.

L.M. Bogad (Center for Tactical Performance) & Kathy Randels (ArtSpot Productions)

Two theatre colleagues meet and connect in 2000 and have a great deal in common.  After 16 years, and thanks to NET, they have a chance to reconnect.  But their work has diverged tremendously since then and they want to learn as much as possible from each other. How to make the most of the time?

Kathy and I became friends at a theatre festival in 2000 at NACL.  Since then she's gone much deeper into ensemble theatre arts while I've worked mostly in performative activism, with activists and social movements.  Thanks to NET, we had the chance to reconnect and exchange a few of the skill sets, concepts, and tricks of the trade we had accumulated over that half-generation span of time.  Our challenge was how to structure our week in New Orleans to make the best of the opportunity.

Here are a few things we did that worked:

1.  Have a few specific events set up to keep you accountable—but don’t overschedule.  Keep your goals focused and tangible.

We set it up so that I would lead two workshops for two different groups that Kathy organized and observed.  On other days, she would rehearse with me several times before I did a live performance in her space of my short play, a satire of secret state surveillance and sabotage, " "COINTELSHOW: A PATRIOT ACT."   This was more than enough for one week; it kept things tight, and our time was accounted for, but at the same time there was some time for error, and some time for other activities besides just industriously producing performance widgets or units of value like robots.

My workshops were for:  a)  The Graduates, a group of formerly incarcerated women of color that Kathy is working with on a performance intervention about the prison industrial complex; and b) an open workshop for anyone interested from the local theatre community. Both workshops explored what I call, in my recent book, “Tactical Performance,” but each workshop was tailored to the various needs or interests of these different groups.

I learned from Kathy directly, in practice, by working with her in several rehearsals for my show.  It gave us a deadline, a target, and a text to work with as I learned some of her warm up, vocal, and conceptual exercises and methods for analyzing a text and bringing it to life on stage.

2.  Create and maintain a balance between working on your specific projects and just musing, and exploring ideas.

We rehearsed plenty; we had to.  At the end of the week, I had to perform and we had to be ready!  But there was some time every day, be it over breakfast or in transit or during a break, to talk about, for example, the local politics of New Orleans, issues of gentrification, a friend’s recent work, family, and friends, etc.  Human time is vital for a true exchange.

3.  Include time to allow the visitor to VISIT; to explore the host’s overall artistic, geographic, ecologic, cultural milleu.

This also contributes to the value and depth of the exchange.  I had only been to New Orleans once before, for just a few days, a year earlier.  By including time for me to move around the city, meet performers and explore sites, I was able to learn a great deal about the theatre and performance scene in New Orleans while also learning about the post-flood environmental and real estate politics from Kathy and her colleagues; for example, the great Nick Slie of Mondo Bizzarro took me on a radical analysis-infused tour of the larger flood zone and region. I was able to visit the whimsical and edgy performance art-playground, the Music Box on another day.  I also had the time to see a work-in-progress presentation of Mondo Bizzarro’s newest project, and several other shows, as well as to hear music, bike and walk between many neighborhoods to get a sense of the city layout, and to talk to activists from the Take ‘Em Down Nola group, who were working at the time to take down white supremacist monuments that still stood in the city--a struggle that has been victorious at the time of this writing.

This all added up to a very fruitful exchange that led to some service to the community, while at the same time we both gained some skills from each other and learned much more about each other's work.  The ground is now very fertile for deeper future collaboration.


COINTELSHOW: A Patriot Act (a darkly satirical play about COINTELPRO)


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Friday, July 7, 2017

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