I have the title Artistic Director of the Mixed Blood Theatre. I admittedly often feel like an imposter having that title. This picture embodies my sentiments about visiting an art museum, which I only consider my own deficiency.
But there is an art style to which I am drawn: pointillism. Like pointillism, I create art that connects social, political, cultural, racial, environmental, and other dots into one seamless vision.
Let me tell you about disparate experiences that led me to create the dots that are the “brushstrokes” of our upcoming extravaganza, AUTONOMY.
Each June the Minnesota Street Rod Association hosts “Back to the 50’s” at the State Fair Grounds. 10,000 cars from before 1964 gather at that site, but between days they cruise on Snelling and University Avenues. Tens of thousands of people bring lawn chairs and just watch these moving works of art come to them and by them, conjuring a myriad emotional reactions. I have always believed that we in the performing arts could learn from this phenomenon.
A dozen years ago I went to a Baptist Church in Corpus Christi, TX and saw the “drive-through life of Jesus.” At the curbcut a parishioner would ask “CD or cassette?” in reference to your car’s sound system. The driver would then drive a ¾ mile course, passing installation after installation, each with scores of “actors” embodying the life of Christ, underscored on your own car’s sound system! While in December, this wasn’t a Nativity, but rather a lifescape, from manger to crucifix.
For 14 years I drove in the Demolition Derby at the State Fair. (I am the “voice of demo derby” on the State Fair’s walking tour!”) Each Saturday in the summer I go to the car races at a small dirt track: Viking Speedway. I go to car shows and, as middle age set in, I get whiplash from quickly turning while driving to look at an awesome car.
From all of this comes AUTONOMY. The dots we connect are climate change, autonomous vehicles, and immigration. The art forms we merge are auto design, movies, and live theater. The delivery system is reminiscent of a Disney ride or miniature golf course. The cast has 26 actors and over 40 remarkable cars. The stage size is 70,000 square feet.
Please come be driven through your art via the Drive Through Theatre experience of AUTONOMY May 9-12 at RiverCentre in St. Paul. Here are a few of the cast members: