A Flood of Emotions
What was so strange about the dress in the dream? How can your friends appear at your desk early in the morning? Will there be a flood of emotions? How do you write a song of deep friend love to someone? Can you over-analyze humor? What happens to a dream when you write it down, and what happens when you perform a play on one Wednesday night 25 years ago and it is deep?
First performed as part of the Late Night Series at Psychic Readings in 2016, then at Fields Festival in Darlington MD, and finally at the DC Arts Center in 2017, "A Flood of Emotions" attempts to answer these questions as it bounces back and forth between the studio where the play is being written and the bar the night before that inspired it. People bond through doing and making theater, and also by loving their friendships.
Malaika Clements (Psychic Readings performance)
Megan Livingston (Fields Fest and DC performance)
Liz Downing (DC performance)
Written and directed by: Theresa Columbus
Music written in collaboration with: Aaron Smith and Ruby Fulton
Comedy sketch written in collaboration with: Jinnene Ross
Stage manager: Lauren Kane
Love Trilogy (2015)
Written and directed by Theresa Columbus
Sound recording by Aaron Smith
Linda Campbell Franklin
Jake Budenz (dancing)
“Love Trilogy,” performed at Worlds in Collusion as part of Artscape in 2015, is a collection of 3 short plays written within a year’s time, navigating the sheer joys and the huge doubts and frustrations that can accompany romantic relationships. In the first play, “I Will Dance for You,” rejoicing in Joni Mitchell’s racier lyrics and bursting with giddy optimism, the artist (Columbus) and her lover (Aaron Smith) act out her thoughts about the relationship. She puts her words in his mouth, but at the same time often quotes him, putting his words in her work as well as in her mouth. The two act out their own prerecorded voices, and play with the trope of musical theater.
The second play in the trilogy, is entitled “New Years Day 2015,” and chronicles one of the saddest and most yearning days of their 5 year relationship. Throwing away a little piece of nature from her hometown he had given her on a walk links her to the act of destroying precious things dating back to her earliest memories. This scene takes place between her and a good friend (her writing? her conscience? …or maybe a good friend.)
The third play in the trilogy, “The Second Dawn of the Year,” speaks to the poetry that follows these most intense relationship days, the artist reaching for words to help express what seems like volumes of conflicting emotions. Technology is a metaphor for emotional difficulties, cardinals and shadows metaphors for poetry and what works. Smith sings a song that he wrote in the first year of their love, and again she puts her words into his mouth as well as the mouth of her friend/conscience to explore the way words inspire and resonate and adhere to people as they become part of each others’ lives.
The Refrigerator is Making Crazy Noises
The Refrigerator is Making Crazy Noises reflects an arrangement of thoughts a person has when inspired in the middle of the night. These thoughts are stylized and self conscious of the act of writing, and contain musings on editing, promises to self, fashion, and not being in love with everything. With a recurring mystery punchline "This is a full term baby!" and other lines delivered sporadically, we watch our performer navigate through common and uncommon phrases with an urgency to translate something. Garnished with song, dance, and even a flailing sock puppet, she narrates these phrases and also connects with the audience by talking about and delivering letters to them.
With sound recording by Aaron Smith.
First performed at the Holy Underground in Aug. 2014, then on tour in Pittsburgh, Rochester, Toronto, Quebec and Providence.
Rooms Play: The Theater
Theater Room in Rooms Play
by Theresa Columbus
room constructed with the help of Copy Cat Theater
costume made by Melissa Webb with Theresa Columbus
Rooms Play was an enormous undertaking by the Copy Cat Theater and the artists that participated. The installation/performance stretched across two large art spaces (The Whole gallery at the H + H and the Current gallery) with a walk in between the buildings. Audience members went through 22 rooms 3 at a time, experiencing 22 different installation/ performances, the entire thing which took them roughly an hour. The second year of its performance, Rooms Play draws inspiration from Joseph Campbell's mono-myth, each room representing a different stage of the story of the epic journey that has been repeated in many cultures throughout history. The performance had the theme of immigration, and the trials and rewards of being an immigrant in a foreign country.
In the room I produced, the hero (audience members) had just completed their major accomplishment, and had just been induced by the previous room's character to forget about completing their journey, but instead remain in the comfort of their newly acquired status as a hero in a new place. My job was to induce them to get back to what they had intended to do. I burst into a room where they had been treated as children by their kindly grandmother, reminding them that they need to be on stage: "the show is starting in 2 minutes!" We warm up backstage, and then the performers let loose a rendition of a personal memory, all together, to an audience of a lot of papers with writing and drawings on them (and myself). The drama of being on stage and pouring out might be what they need to make their decisions with a clear mind.
Mega Joy is a collage of video documentation from live theatrical performances, footage from a film, improvising for a camera with housemates, and speaking to a camera as a bizarre companion/ mirror. The action happens with some of the same people both on and off the stage, and scripted dialogue and songs are juxtaposed with off-the-cuff banter. At times embarrassingly personal and self-conscious, the video often jumps into the mega joy of exciting people working together and accessing the world of ideas through art and performing conversation in front of a camera.
Decision is a Choice
Originally performed with special guest stars: Jenny Sage, Carrie Fucile, John Alex Lind, and Whitney Simpkins.
Written and performed by Theresa Columbus as part of Puss Fusst Nov. 2012, The 12 12 12 show in Milwaukee Wisconsin at the Redline, Dec. 12, 2012, as part of the opening of Ink Press Productions in spring of 2013, as part of the Martha Wison exhibit at the INOVA gallery in Milwaukee in Aug. 2013, and as part of Gabfestry in Machias Maine in Aug. 2013. (see www.gabfestry.org)
You, the audience member, have entered the artist's private/extroverted space, which has the air of backstage, painter's studio, and bedroom. The artist warms up, draws, works on a piece of art made mostly out of fabric, dances, sings, and makes an audio recording of a play, all with the cherished company of mysterious, mysterious audience members (maybe you reader?) The audio play is about conversation, how things are very funny and not funny, clarity, and profound longing. The song is about how you can love a lover, friends, and doing different kinds of work.
Cast: Theresa Columbus, Joy Davis, Gina Denton, Siyade Gemechisa, and Alexa Richardson
Dangerously walking the line between corny, sexy, funny, and abstract, "Pleasure Club" tells the tale of Jojobee Bonanza, one person who is actually 5 people who form a performance troupe. The group believes they are invited to perform at a Pleasure Club, where instead of comediennes being funny, people share enjoyable things with the audience. Actually, they were expected to perform straight comedy, which turns out OK because there are enough humorous elements in their pleasant-talkin' performance. Drawing great pleasure from revealing structures that characterize society, "Pleasure Club" can transform any space into one that playfully invites new ways of actualizing enjoyment. This piece was first performed as part of the Transmodern 2012 dinner theater event, FEAST, and then toured to New York, Philadelphia, Providence, Milwaukee and Chicago (Defibrillator).
Scenes Play, co-directed by Theresa Columbus and Joy Davis
Starring Autumn Breaud, John Bylander, Theresa Columbus, M. Jane Taylor, and Elizabeth Zacharia; Tiffany DeFoe on saxophone
Costumes made in collaboration with Melissa Webb
Performed at the Annex Theater in June 2009; at the Barn in Brooklyn and PIFAS in Philadelphia in August 2009
Scenes Play jumps between the quality of daring myself to tell people things I kind of don't want them to know, and proclaiming joyfully what I know about friendship, art, family, love, and how things can be put together. The title "Scenes Play" points to the way each scene has its own manner of relaying ideas self-conscious about its structure, yet each uses a colorful combination of characters and interactions between them to convey something often painfully true but also funny about relationships between people or between people and art. Poking fun of my tendency to be overwhelmed by the importance of everything we say and do, my self-reflexive musings are textured and transformed by brilliant actors performing characters, breaking up monologues into random pieces, interacting with costumes which also serve as backdrops, and performing experimental movement. This piece grabs gleefully from different theatrical tropes, presenting sometimes mundane musings in a myriad of lights and shapes.
Chaza Show Choir
"Chaza Show Choir" was created in 1999 as a 90 minute play with a cast of more than 20 that performed in Milwaukee, Detroit, Philadelphia, New York, and Providence. The play was written and directed by Theresa Columbus, with music written by Didier Leplae, Columbus and the Chaza Orchestra: Peter Barrickman, John Fletcher, Jen Emma Hertel, and Jason Tucker. A spirit of collaboration painted the process of creating this narrative over a 6 month period, with countless volunteers creating costumes, sets, props and offering ideas for the play. The group went on tour in the summer of 1999. Upon return, Columbus and Leplae immediately started the process of creating a film version of "Chaza Show Choir," a feature length black and white 35mm film which was released in 2004 and won a first place award at the Madison Film Festival. In 2015 "Chaza" was shown at the Anthology Film Archives in New York and the Charles Theater in Baltimore.Credits can be found at the end of the film.