MAW Winter Residency: Oxymora
I was invited to stage a one night event as artist-in-residence at the 2012-13 MAW Winter Residency at Precision Grind, a neighborhood coffee shop in the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis. In considering the possibilities of what project I might develop, I was struck by the parallels between the coffee shop and the Playwrights Center. Precision Grind is directly across the street from the Playwrights Center, an incubator for the art and craft of writing plays since 1971. Its mission is to champion “playwrights and new plays to build upon a living theater that demands new and innovative work.” I thought about the role this building plays in the production of work of a specific type – that of using language to craft stories that are meant to be performed by a cast, not read like a novel. The language is written in the manner of a spoken voice with precisely chosen words that can carry an inflection or emphasis. I have a love of the written word in literature and am astounded in the ways that a play can be delivered on stages. Minneapolis is reknown for its many stages and here I was with an opportunity to speak to that history.
I took as my content the relationship between that of the coffee shop as an incubator of ideas itself and the similarities it shared with its daunting neighbor across the road. It seemed to me that the modern coffee shop has developed into a bit of an oxymoron – yes, one shops for coffee but I think the average user goes as well for the free wi-fi, change of scenery while working and the neutral territory and free tables for meetings with partners, dates, clients, and collaborators. It’s where things get worked out as much as plays get attention on the other side of the road; an ever changing sea of conversations, googling and caffeine.
So there it was, a fete of words was in order. An exhaustive collection of oxymora were projected from Precision Grind onto the bell tower of the Playwrights Center throughout the evening. A bridge of peculiar words that seemed fitting to adorn the bell tower while a gathering a friends undertook competitive word based games in its shadow. Casual chatter punctuated moves in Scrabble, Bananagrams and a joint effort was undertaken to complete a custom crossword puzzle created for the evening, Elements of Literature. Like many works in progress, it wasn’t finished.
Thanks to all who showed up to partake in the various games.
Thanks to Ben Moren for coding in Processing for the oxymora.
All photos credited to Andrea Steudel.
Team MAW met outside Regis tonight to plan future shenanigans! It was warm, the moon was out and (as usual) the company was MAWesome!