For the past three years, I’ve been immersed in the graduate directing program at Arizona State University. In a program almost exclusively devoted to new work, I spent my days and nights creating ambitious, complex pieces of original theater, and honing my voice in the process. It was difficult, painful, transformative, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. But all the while, a deep part of me longed for New York, and my FullStop family.
During my time away, I got to co-create an amazing lineup of projects. I devised, co-wrote and co-directed two full-length productions with my fellow MFA artists. I delved into mask, digital media and post-colonial theory with Lisa Loomer’s ¡Bocón! I made my stilt-walking debut as an electrified techno-archetypal spider in Immerge, devised a site-specific meditation on Ovid and Proust in The Echo Project, and tried my hand at composition and choreography in my thesis show Nation.
The project I’m most proud of, though, was my FullStop.LAB-affiliated project, The 7 Layers of Bastian Bachman. This epic piece of site-specific theater began as a brainstorm in a design concept class. Tasked with creating a dream project under no constraints, my co-creators and I envisioned a massive-scale immersion into the perceptive world of a musical genius suffering from a brain tumor. Two years later, in February 2014, with the support of our mentor Jake Pinholster and a grant from ASU’s Herberger Institute, we brought the dream to life at the historic Icehouse in downtown Phoenix.
7 Layers was a giant of a project. Our team of 30 artists conducted hours of research, drawing inspiration from Oliver Sacks’ Musicophilia, Hofstadter’s Godel Escher Bach, and the music of John Cage, David Bowie and Philip Glass. We used fugue structures as narrative inspiration, utilizing repetition, reversal, simultaneity and counterpoint to create Bastian’s fragmented internal experience. The audience guided itself freely through this malfunctioning mindscape, piecing together their own unique experience of one man’s journey to make things right before time runs out.
The piece was a profound artistic journey – and the journey is not yet complete. As I transition back to New York and into an increased presence with FullStop, I’m embarking on the next phase of the project. A cross-continental team of composers, designers and dramaturgs are on board to bring the piece to life as a FullStop production. This is a long game, potentially years in the making. Stay tuned over the coming year of developmental concert-readings, video shorts, space research updates and long-range production plans. Our goal is a monthlong New York run in late 2015 or early 2016 in NYC.
I’m grateful to Leta for her patience and support as I immersed in my training the last three years. Returning to New York with this complex project in tow would sway many a lesser producer, but our amazing Leta is all in! If you have recommendations for spaces, want to get involved in the creative process, or want to donate to the project’s development, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s so good to be home.
Watch a highlights video of The 7 Layers of Bastian Bachman here!