Q-STAGE Feature: Addison Sharpe & The Last Resort

Where did the ideas for your Q-STAGE show come from?

I first came across this subject matter during an internship for Chicago essayist Peggy Shinner in the summer of 2014. As I immersed myself in the world of the work, I formed a deep connection with the material. This is a story with such rich artistic potential that I couldn’t leave it behind; deep thanks go to Peggy for permitting me to form my own sculpture from her stash of clay.

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Why do you feel it is important to share the stories of your performance with the community?

The structure of so many institutionalized social ills that we experience today were solidified in the mid-20th century. In the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, I found my thoughts returning to this research. I could not ignore the glaring parallels between the Atomic Age and contemporary America. Media bias; toxic masculinity; the performance of femininity; sex-appeal; imperialism; the environmental implications of nuclear warfare; displaced communities of color; the role of nostalgia and kitsch in infantilizing, glamorizing, and otherwise skewing the way we interpret violence – these issues, which are so often talked about as bygone or obsolete, are as deadly relevant to my generation as they were to my grandparents’ generation.

What is this performance about for you on a personal level?

As an alcoholic in recovery, this is a piece about the impossible effort it takes to live in a fantasy of one’s own design. As an emergent artist, this fellowship has provided me the opportunity to write and develop my first feature-length stage piece.

addison

Talk about your background as an artist. What sort of artistic experience are you bringing to this production?

I’ve pet a lot of dogs, so I’m coming in with a substantial backlog of blessings to cash in.

What social issues are important to you and how do they inform the art you create?

According to Strengthsfinder (TM), two of my top assets are Connectedness (TM) and Ideation (TM) so I don’t uplift pet social issues with my art so much as I draw connections between seemingly disparate issues. Everything is connected to everything and art is my way of processing that inalienable truth.

What artists or performances have inspired you over the years?

The first time I had an oh-shit-this-is-the-kind-of-art-I-didn’t-know-I-wanted-to-make moment was the first time I saw The Neo-Futurists. The second time I had that feeling was when I learned about La Pocha Nostra’s work. Since then, I’ve been inspired by performance groups with aesthetics grounded in absurdism, dada, found text/objects, gesture, and social practice. As for the local scene, I’m consistently floored by the work I see my community bring forward at variety shows like Daddy and Mother Goose’s Bedtime Stories.

Are you working on any other projects presently or coming up in the future?

Concurrent with the culmination of Q-Stage, I am graduating from a year long Arts Organizing Institute with Pangea World Theater. As for upcoming work, I’m looking forward to focusing on crafting with friends.

Describe your pre-performance ritual if you have one.  

Stretching and praying.

When you’re not deep in Q-STAGE rehearsal and development, how do you spend your time? What are some of your hobbies or passions in life?

Trying to get my cat to stop eating plastic, shotgunning La Croix, rollerblading, swapping dank memes with my nerds, finishing abandoned crosswords, and trying to suss out whether or not anyone else in the room watches the same anime I do.

Have you been collaborating with any other artists to create this show? Who are they and how are they contributing?

This process has been a great conduit for connecting with former Q-Stage artists. Several of my fore-daddies in this program are already friends of mine so it was enriching to engage creatively with those folks. Extra special thanks with a cherry on top go to Jay Eisenberg, Sami Pfeffer, AP Looze, Kat Purcell, Billy Noble and my anchor, my rock, my director, Chantal Pavageaux.


More about The Last Resort

The Last Resort
Created & Performed by Addison Sharpe
Directed by Chantal Pavageaux

The Last Guest at The Last Resort passes the time basking in the desert sun, sipping sparkling refreshments and lauding the patron saint of pool-side glamour, Micheline Bernardini, the first woman to model the bikini swimsuit. But the desert oasis may prove to be a fragile mirage as the Last Guest is forced to recon with the repercussions of living in lavishness. In their most ambitious stage project to date, Addison Sharpe navigates a world of sex, kitsch, fallout and the bewildering spectacle of the Atomic Age.

Click HERE for more information and to get tickets to Q-STAGE!

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Q-STAGE Feature: Marcel Michelle-Mobama & Demons in America

 

Where did the ideas for your Q-STAGE show come from?

I went to see a broadcast of The National’s revival of Angels in America and Tony Kushner was lamenting the play’s relevance today, despite it being 40 years old, saying it was his hope that the work become irrelevant. I was also watching a lot of political documentaries at the time and had just started to read more conservative/Nazi blogs. People were glamorizing America’s response to Nazism in the ‘40’s in such a false, idealistic repainting of history, and I wanted to highlight the hypocrisy of that and examine why we can’t call things what they are.

FB_IMG_1520323572522Why do you feel it is important to share the stories of your performance with the community?

I think it is important for the artist to offer catharsis, to heal, to guard history and culture. It sounds grandiose, but it is true and ancient. Artists have a responsibility to share their reflections/ideas/stories because we can. Art is a necessary social and political part of a healthy functioning society, and some people have a capacity for and desire to confront the less examined, maybe more upsetting sides of ourselves, and that needs to be looked at and discussed as well. People still talk about the theatre here in a way that is more productive I think than cinema or streaming. Maybe someone realizes something, someone had a good cry, found the courage to make a change, got a laugh, met their future spouse, who knows?

What is this performance about for you on a personal level?

This is about being black, being queer, being transgender, being femme, being a foster of white families, being in the jail system, experiencing police brutality, being 25, and watching everything you thought might maybe become progress turn against itself. It is about my abusive relationship with media consumption and self-harm. It’s about feeling like I’m going crazy and like I have to because someone has to read this shit and report back. It’s about staying up all night reading terf lit and crying but also feeling better armed for battle. It’s about not wanting to fight anymore. It’s about the illusion of control, of democracy, of safety, of fear. It’s about how far we’re willing to go, and for what.

Talk about your background as an artist. What sort of artistic experience are you bringing to this production?

I’ve been performing since childhood, was very involved in school productions, competitive speaking, music, writing and directing plays. I studied mime as a kid, ballet folklorico, gospel music, I gave sermons…all kinds of weird shit. After I dropped out of high school I went out and auditioned. Eventually I found cabaret, variety, burlesque, performance art. I still do some traditional theatre but now I work mostly in performance art, curation, and recently speaking and teaching/facilitating. I’ve always been very autodidactic, so I seek out new work, techniques, mediums, artists, and research voraciously, then I try it until I’m good at it.

What social issues are important to you and how do they inform the art you create?

Intersectionality as a holistic approach to understanding feminism and not as a method of reinforcing hierarchical power structures amongst the oppressed. The nightmarish gift that is the body. The transitional nature of all living things. Race, Sexuality, Gender, of course. The earth is under assault, so there’s that. Technology and its impact on social interaction. Police violence. White Supremacy. So many things. I think, if you know my other work, these things pop up in various smaller forms, and here I think they all are sort of on full display. We see the confusion, the overwhelming weight of what it is to spend all of your time caring and none of your time doing.

What artists or performances have inspired you over the years?

I’m all over the place. Anne Bogart is a great inspiration, as is Tony Kushner. Amiri Baraka, Anne Sexton. Anna Deveare Smith, Marina Abramovic, Ron Athey, Andrea Jenkins at Intermedia Arts in Q-Stage a few years ago is HUGE for me, Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Grace Jones, Bob Fosse, Ionesco, Sartre, Baudrillard, Eartha Kitt, Becket, Badu, Albee, Reza, Sondheim, Marceau, Decroux, Hughes, Hansberry, Gershwin, Chita Rivera, Anna Theresa De Keersmaeker, Luminous Pariah, Martha Graham, Miss Indigo Blue, bell hooks, Beyonce, FKA Twigs, Liza Minnelli, and Ben Vereen. Is that enough? I’ve got more.

Are you working on any other projects presently or coming up in the future?

I’m singing for an evening with my bestie on May 12th at Can Can Wonderland. I’m working on some new burlesque for Pride season, which is even busier than the other months (when everyone is still gay but whatever) and something really grand for the Minneapolis Burlesque Festival in October. Daddy is always upon me (yikes) in that I always feel pressure to do something exciting. I recently got an offer to teach some workshops at a fancy museum but I won’t say where because the ink isn’t dry, and I’ll be auditioning for Waafrika 123, 20%’s next show. I’m directing Mayda in the upcoming revival of her Dowling Studio show, now at BLB in mid-July. I’ll also be continuing this work (Demons) and looking for additional funding for its continuation.

Describe your pre-performance ritual if you have one.  

Warming and stretching the body and voice is very important. I like to have a glass of wine while I do my makeup. Music is a must. In general, if I’m doing a three-week run or 6 shows in one weekend it is very important that I go and see something: a play, the museum, a great burlesque show, or a very fine dinner. Taking in a grand work of art feels fueling to me.

When you’re not deep in Q-STAGE rehearsal and development, how do you spend your time? What are some of your hobbies or passions in life?

Working is my favorite thing to do. I have a hard time shutting it off because it’s so stimulating. Being a full-time freelance artist means gigging quite a bit, and you’re doing all of your own administrative work on top of the creative. My partner and I love to eat, so fancy dinner is a nice treat. I watch a lot of documentaries, I like to read journals, studies, mostly sociology and psychology stuff. I love to cook, and I’m very ambitious in my attempts.  

Have you been collaborating with any other artists to create this show? Who are they and how are they contributing?

After working solo for seven or eight months I brought on three artists for the last few weeks: Yoni Tamang, Zealot Hamm, and The Lady Wolf. They all have very different backgrounds/styles/minds/voices and are contributing a great deal, helping to provide shape, bringing concepts to life, showing me my thoughts so I may edit them, generating content, and invigorating me. They gave me fresh life and eyes. They also gave me the opportunity to lead some Viewpoints exercises for voice, which I hadn’t done before so I’m extremely grateful for that. I think any young director should be truly humbled and honored that anyone would give their time and bodies and allow you to grow by leading or facilitating. It’s a weird thing, but it’s how we get better.

Click HERE for more information and to get tickets to Q-STAGE!

Q-STAGE Feature: Pedro Pablo Lander & Noche Bomba

Where did the ideas for your Q-STAGE show come from?

Noche Bomba is my latest accumulated research looking at my gender and sexuality evolution in relationship to my latinx Venezuelan upbringing. The work began as an exploration of my relationship with my mother; then developed into a solo that I presented at Exposition: Queer Performance and Conversation curated by Marcel Michelle-Mobama and 20% Theatre. As I dug deeper and got rid of the unnecessary, I developed a solo, a trio, and a duet, which I performed at the Walker, Fresh Oysters, and Lush.

I am working with social dances, drag, text, and expression through movement. The complexities of my experiences develop and dissolve through these forms in Noche Bomba. I am interested in driving the audience in an emotional ride as the work unfolds in the performance.
Noche Bomba

Why do you feel it is important to share the stories of your performance with the community?

My experiences are pretty specific to me, though I have encountered plenty of folks who connect on a personal level to moments in my work: whether it’s a still image, a movement phrase, a sound, the collection of images. The cathartic nature of the work in Noche Bomba, and my work in general, stirs up the performers’ bodies and energizes the space in particular ways. I want to share the emotional, physical, and mental boundaries I continuously shattered growing up.

What is this performance about for you on a personal level?

This is about wrestling with the demons, getting down in the mud, digging, excavating. It is about eruption of the infected, disposing the gangrene parts that I stored in my body and consciousness. Noche Bomba is exposing my body and my identities, revealing, sharing, digesting on stage. This is my experience. This is my life.

Talk about your background as an artist. What sort of artistic experience are you bringing to this production?

I am a performance artist, a teacher, maker. I focus on movement, how the body can generate precious materials and information. I am also a drag queen–the genderfuckery and ecstasy of drag, framed within the history of femme-identified folks in Venezuela. I work with text as well; sounds and words are also parts of the human experience and hold lots of context.

What social issues are important to you and how do they inform the art you create?

I teach different arts curriculum for kids, toddlers, folks with disabilities of all ages, and elders, of all ethnicities, backgrounds, creeds, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Equity through my teaching, representation, visibility, exposure [is important to the me]. My communities keep me grounded as I venture into art-making. The practice of being a teacher truly makes me a better person every single day. I make work about the inequities I have faced as a queer, brown, immigrant, latinx artist. I am driven by the challenges the folks I encounter every day face on a regular basis.

What artists or performances have inspired you over the years?

I am inspired by the incredible people around me and by the wonderful makers I have had the chance to work with in the last seven years, when I moved to the US and began my performance journey. I am inspired by character, tenacity, endlessly curious artists, artmakers who surprise me, honest, honest performance work. Among the people I have worked with I look up to many folks. Currently, I am very much moved by the team of artists across departments at Pillsbury House–Emily Zimmer, Pramila Vasudevan, Masanari Kawahara, Siddeeqah Shabazz, Jen Scott, Mike Hoyt, Molly VanAvery, among many others; also, by the talented and ferocious queer/trans drag and burlesque performers in the Twin Cities.

Are you working on any other projects presently or coming up in the future?

Drag Story Hour every month!! I create performances for kids, with other artists; we read stories, dance, lip-sync, etc. Next one is May 26th from 10:30-11:30am at the Pillsbury House Theatre.

I am working with Judith Howard and a stellar team of performers for ICON SAM: Temple Dances, June 14-17th and 21-24th.

I will also join Pramila Vasudevan in the fall for a parking ramp performance project to be performed September 28 & 29th.

Much more to come ❤

Describe your pre-performance ritual if you have one.  

Getting my head underneath my pelvis for a long time, oxygenating the hamstrings, the joints, finding mobility in my joints, putting weight in my hands, rolling on the floor a bunch, making sounds, putting makeup on. (It varies immensely whether I am doing a 50-minute exhausting work, or a 7-minute piece, or a drag story hour, or a performance installation.)

When you’re not deep in Q-STAGE rehearsal and development, how do you spend your time? What are some of your hobbies or passions in life?

I am passionate about making empanadas and arepas, passionate about eating them too. I love going out dancing, biking to most of my destinations, spending time outside, teaching all sorts of people. My schedule is pretty different from week to week, which I love! I love dancing too. I get a kick out of having several different activities in one day that require different things of me. I am passionate about making dance, about performing. I love hanging with people that love me and care about me.

Have you been collaborating with any other artists to create this show? Who are they and how are they contributing?

The performers: Genevieve D. Johnson, Lelis Brito, Sharon Picasso, Tim Rehborg, Kim Schneider, Belize Torres Narváez–they are exquisitely generous every time they show up in rehearsals.

Joyce Liza Rada Lindsay, music composer whom I’ve worked with since 2014. Joyce truly connects with the work I make, and she interprets my emotions in a vibrant way through sound textures and compilations. Joyce lives in Chicago and is an accompanist for dance programs, as well as an independent artist and maker.

Zoe Cinel developed the visual materials for the piece last year when Noche Bomba was in its crafting stages. I will show that work in the piece. Zoe is just finishing her master’s degree from MCAD. We began working together June 2017 after performing with Aniccha Arts and Labor Camp.

Click HERE for more information and to get tickets to Q-STAGE!