Lisa Fay and Jeff Glassman are composing and performing movement-based theatre artists working professionally since the ‘80s and ‘70s respectively and together since 1991, who apply complex composed structures to ordinary daily human behavior. Notated graphic scores often accompany their movement productions. In their collaborative work for theatre ‘natural-looking’ behavior is subjected to contortions, subversions and convolutions, letting ‘naturalism’ show its socially constructed face. They invent systems for organizing movement and speech in theatre, similarly to how new systems for organizing sound have been invented for composing music. Each theatre composition, utilizing a repertory of gestural-choreographic innovations invented by the duo, proposes a specific critical look at social life. These inventions include for instance a technique for the orchestration of instantaneous shifts of time and place in complex patterns, which they name ‘pivoting.’ One of their interests is to lay new ground for composing form in theatre in a way that makes ‘theatre composition’ closely analogous to music composition.
Together or individually, Lisa Fay and Jeff Glassman have originated and performed movement-based theatre works for the past 42 years, as a duo for the past 22 years, in tours across the US, in Eastern and Western Europe, Mexico, Cuba and South Korea, in large and small theatres, colleges, cultural centers, and national and international mime and theatre festivals in the US and abroad including the Copenhagen International Theatre Festival; the Third International Festival of Mime in Mexico; the seminal First International Mime Institute and Festival, Viterbo College, WI (1974); the historic Gathering of Alternative Theatres, St. Peter, MN (1981); and the D.Festa international Deahangno Korea Small Theatre Festival (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, Artists-In-Residence performances and tours for D.Festa and Korea Small Theatre Association) Seoul, South Korea; co-founded the internationally touring experimental theatre collective company United Mime Workers (’71-86’ an NEA Dance Touring Program company); received multiple Artist Fellowships for original movement-based theatre from the Illinois Arts Council, and a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Choreography Fellowship for experimental movement theatre (UMW). As working artists they have served the Illinois Arts Council (IAC), and the Alliance for Cultural Democracy (ACD). Together, in the early 1990’s they convened the Experimental Performance Laboratory at the White Street Arts Center, Urbana, Illinois that would later become the foundation for their workshop and residency work.
Currently they are hosted at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts of the University of Illinois as artists-in-residence in a creative residency, ongoing, for the development of a full-length piece “Folding Time: the origami of the everyday”.
[Selected activities]: At times they are visiting faculty or guest artists at The Evergreen State College, Olympia WA (2002-2003, 2006, 2012, and 2016-2017). They have been featured artists or artists-in-residence, for example, at the Columbia College Dance Center, MoMing Dance and Arts Center, Links Hall, and Prop Theatre, all in Chicago; Unit One at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Drake University, Des Moines IA; Michigan State University Museum, Lansing MI; Indiana University East, Richmond IN; the D.FESTA Danehangno Small Theatre Festival, the Haja Center (Seoul Youth Factory for Alternative Culture), Sungmisan Village Theatre, and the Seoul Youth Creativity Summit and Festival all in Seoul, South Korea (2007, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2014); New College in Sarasota FL; Bravehearts Theatre and with TAPIT/New Works at the Overture Center in Madison WI; the Wagon Train Project in Lincoln NE; Seven Stages Theatre in Atlanta GA; Legion Arts CSPS in Cedar Falls IA; the Network of Ensemble Theatres (NET) Gathering at Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre in New Orleans LA; the Center for Contemporary Art and Theatre Grottesco's ‘Eventua’ festival, Santa Fe NM. They have been featured performers at the international conferences of the American Society for Cybernetics (systems theory) numerous times throughout its 45-year history, most recently in 2012.
Their combined histories in New York City include full performances twice presented at the Dance Theatre Workshop, as well as Experimental Intermedia, BACA Downtown, Roulette, the IRT Theater, a residency nearby upstate at the North American Cultural Lab (NaCL), a lecture-performance in the Jewish Museum’s In Dialogue series, graduate seminar guest appearances at the New School, and a featured number in an evening of Vaudeville produced and curated in an old Vaudeville theatre on the Lower East Side.
At the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign they have taught, directed and written for the Inner Voices Social Issues Theatre Ensemble doing original works through the Dept. of Theatre, the Dept. of Gender and Women’s Studies, and the Counseling Center, and Fay directed and formulated the Social Issues Theatre Program (1999-2010). They have been guest artists, teaching and presenting their work for the Department of Dance, the Campus Honor’s Program, the Composer’s Forum of the School of Music, and multiple Unit One/Allen Hall guest artist residencies among other engagements.
They are currently an active member company of the Network of Ensemble Theatres (NET), members of the American Society for Cybernetics [systems theory] (ASC), of the Association for Theatre Movement Educators (ATME) and of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE), and a Resident Company of the Prop Theatre (PROP THTR) in Chicago.
Gracious support for this work has come from Krannert Center for the Performing Arts; from the IRT Theatre in NYC through their 3B residency program; the Illinois Arts Council Agency; and City of Urbana Public Arts Grant Program and the Network of Ensemble Theatres.