Saturday, June 30, 2012

My Theatre Manifesto - Kristin Arnesen of Theatre Reverb

By Kristin Arnesen, Co-Artistic Director, Performer, Media Artist Theatre Reverb

As a performance and media artist, I treat popular media and commercial products as archives of shared imagination and symbols that can access our collective unconscious. Taking a topical theme or question, for example: “anxiety about cultural collapse,” our Theatre Reverb method casts a net out into video sharing sites like YouTube, television programming, news headlines, and our own memories and associations. Treating the samples we collect as dream images, (which, as Jung claimed, carry their own logic), we address our search results as banks of intuitively connected ephemera and search for threads that join these disparate cultural archives and our personal associations.

We then enhance or project narrative threads and organize our samples in an episodic form influenced by dada, surrealism and the films of David Lynch. We assume the roles of characters engaged in the initial question we were exploring, and use a heightened style of acting influenced by Eco’s notion of hyperreality and classical Indian dance-theatre forms (which we studied on two training trips to Kerala India).  In performance, we often access my night job as an emcee and variety entertainer and alternate familiarity and humor with off-putting devices like noticeably ‘foreign’ modes of communication, direct address, and live spectator video feed.  This process comes together in large-scale, interactive, spectacles designed to recontextualize and manipulate familiar objects and social rituals and create a persistently unpredictable environment aimed at bypassing our viewers logical thought process and allowing them to experience familiar material differently, reconsider perceptions, and identify their engagement in a shared cultural space.  This is the method to our madness and the objective of our mission the best way we can describe it!  If you want more we’d say: Theatre Reverb’s supreme objective is perhaps best expressed in these words from their agent provocateurs:
"Our agents are storming the world, destroying the drawers of the brain and of social organization, spreading a spirit of excess everywhere they go, restoring the fecund wheel of the universal circus to objective forces and bringing tickles to secret places everywhere. After all, everyone dances to his own personal boom boom.

Perhaps you will understand us better when we tell you that Theatre Reverb is a virgin microbe that penetrates with the insistence of air into all spaces that reason has not been able to fill (especially secret places)."

Kristin Arnesen is a performer, writer, dancer, media artist, and the co-founder of Theatre Reverb. She holds a BA in performance and an MA in theatre. Kristin’s work is influenced by classical Indian theatre forms which she studied on two trips to Kerala India to train in kathakali and kutiyattam. She has performed with such companies as Mabou Mines under the direction of Lee Breuer.  Kristin is also a regular emcee and dancer in variety shows and clubs around New York, she is a resident artist at Galapagos Art Space, she studies classical bharatanatyam with master dancer Kamala Cesar, she is a sponsored artist of the Brooklyn Arts Council, and a collaborator with the Ukraine-based international women’s movement FEMEN. Her critically acclaimed and "Most Innovative" award winning Theatre Reverb production initium/finis is set to play at the Mini-Fridge Festival in June and at HERE Arts Center in July.

For more information about Theatre Reverb, visit and for more information about the miniFRIDGE production of initium/finis, visit

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