NEW WORK: All the Time in the World – 2024-25

April Matthis in All the Time in the World at Prelude NYC, fall 2023, photo by Tony T.

Last fall I started working on a new piece about collective self-regard and the ways our media feeds define how we apprehend this tumultuous world. The piece is ready to be presented in the 2024-25 season.

The text is designed and rendered as an original card game – a combination of Uno, Exploding Kittens and Five-Card Draw – played by one to six actors in front of an audience. The rules function as an analog algorithm; each card contains a written description of an image, story or reel you might see on Instagram. Some cards also carry instructions to the performers, such as, “look at the audience and imagine how many times it took them to get their last selfie right.” 

The performance can function in a gallery or theater, around a simple folding table and chairs around which the performers sit after coming onstage. Each player reads a card in turn. The text itself morphs; first describing innocuous, carefully-curated “fun” poses and  restaurant meals; intervening in these everyday occurrences are ruminations on how we learn about war and other atrocities while riffling through ads and fragments of standup routines; the piece resolves finally in a litany of actual stories of human encounter, whose significance is elusive and impossible to catch in a single shot as you scroll. 

Part of the joy of All the Time in the World is watching accomplished actors respond to and embody text in the moment, in the complicated way we often respond to our friends’ feeds. It is also an invitation for audience members to create for themselves the images they are hearing about – an imaginative act akin to reading – and to think about the moments in our lives that escape our lenses, that may be embodied and rendered more strongly as memory alone.  

Night Keeper – Spring 2023 and Beyond

Jehan Young and Norman Westberg in Night Keeper, photo: Brian Rogers

My new performance work just premiered at The Chocolate Factory’s lux new space in March/April 2023. We are currently recording it as an LP for Hallow Ground records, and it can be presented in concert form or as a small-scale immersive work with projections, drawings and choreography.

Performed by Jehan O. Young and David Guzman, with live music composed and performed by Norm Westberg (juggler, knitter, and guitarist from Swans), lighting and projections by Jon DeGaetano and Grace Gilmore, choreographic scores by Hillary Clark. Supported by a Creative Capital Award, NYSCA Commission, Chocolate Factory Commission and residency support from Loghaven and Baryshnikov Arts Center.

A couple years ago I started writing when I couldn’t sleep. Though I like sleeping, I like the writing that has come out of this time. The work is performed in dim light, with viewers in groups spread around the space. Jess is doing some drawings to go with the text. Please keep your eyes peeled for this work in new iterations, as sound recording on vinyl, and as performance in any number of locales. Thanks to all who came for our first run of shows!

Perfect City’s (IN)visible Guides – June 2023

Avoidance Mapping workshop, photo by Troi Hall

(In)Visible Guides is an art and research project created by Perfect City and residents of a Lower East Side shelter for domestic violence survivors. The project combines map-making workshops, public art installations, convenings, and publishing designed to help survivors become public advocates for better protection alternatives to policing in public space. We believe everyone benefits when our most marginalized and least visible residents have more agency in the design of our neighborhoods and cities.

I started Perfect City in 2016 as research, and it has become a 20-year project about zoning, resistance and many things in between. We are housed at Abrons Arts Center. You can join us. We are supported by Creatives Rebuild New York’s Artist Employment Program, and funds from LMCC, Abrons Arts Center and the NEA. Our work includes mapping workshops, walking tours, advocacy, long-term engagements with shelter residents, and international collaborations with like-minded people in Amsterdam and France.

Read an article about our mapping work on Urban Omnibus! Or follow us on Instagram @perfectcitynyc / @thecatcallingproject

Trouble Hunters – Fall 2023, Novi Sad, Serbia

Trouble Hunters in Serbia (work-in-progress), with Jelena Galovic and Uros Mladenovic. Photo by Aaron Landsman

Trouble Hunters is a performance that grows out of a larger body of work called Language Reversal. When the 2016 election happened, I reached out to friends who’ve been through worse. Kulturanova had produced an earlier play of mine in Novi Sad and we’d been wanting to do something together from scratch ever since. Together we asked friends and colleagues to provide toolkits for surviving in tough times. Trouble Hunters is tentatively scheduled to premiere at the Reconciliation Festival in Novi Sad this fall. Prior funding has come from the The Trust For Mutual Understanding and ASU Gammage.

The piece takes the form of an awkward rehearsal for an agit-prop reality show and an inquisition into misery tourism. Performed by Jelena Galovic and Uros Mladenovic, in both English and Serbian, Trouble Hunters is a series of short scenes and vignettes about people who desire connection and cope with conflict: how do you make coffee with a candle in a shelter? How do we appreciate another culture so different from our own? How do we make peace with cultures we are taught to hate?

Supported by La MaMa, ETC, The Trust for Mutual Understanding, Abrons Arts Center and Princeton University.

Follow (2021)

Follow was a new music piece composed by Igor Silva, performed by Stephanie Pan and Ensemble Klang, and commissioned by Gaudeamus in The Netherlands. I was commissioned to write the libretto. What started as a simple/istic prompt about “fake news” from the commissioners became a layered, jarring investigation of truth, commitment to change, the role of labor and media in our apprehension of the world and how we run from what we might not want to know.

Follow premiered in Amsterdam in 2021, followed by tours to The Hague and beyond. You can see a minute of it here.