MAXE CRANDALL / WO CHAN / JOHNNY DRAGO
▲▲▲ was an evening of experimental queer performance I conceived of via triangulation. I wanted to think about triangulation as a dynamic process and action, and chose to work with two artists who were previous collaborators of mine: Wo Chan, a poet and drag artist who was a Poets House fellow with me in 2014, and Johnny Drago, a theater maker, performer, and writer that I’ve worked with since 2008. I proposed an evening of three shorts, and we each built our performances in about five weeks. Our joint cast of fifteen was pulled from our social, activist, and art circles, allowing triangulated collaboration to be explored as/in/across community with all of its proximities and distances.
In dialogue, all performances worked across media, including choreography by Erik Thurmond in Drago and video scores by Ethan Weinstock in Crandall and Rob Rusli in Chan. Triangulation was thematized and aestheticized in each production, where three points became visual motif, theatrical problem, and the mapping of space. “How to Be a Better Baby” cried out for conflict-free drama in the form of a guided meditation / through three works of art / inside a museum / inside a short story / inside a play / inside an aquarium. Mixing farce, morality plays, and Poets Theater, “Underwater Wedding” disrupted three love triangles (including a character who loves the corporation David’s Bridals) to undo marriage in a single, spontaneous speech act. Through drag/dance, “White Flag/White Face” offered an explosive mash-up of material culled from autobiography, documentary footage, and the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) in a pop-fueled (un)surrender.
In hindsight, the experiment yielded performances that all used water as a major theme and all worked with heartbreak on epic scales. Through triangulated collaboration, the politic of the show formed a cycle: Remember / Tear Down / Become.