In an interesting twist on arts reporting, the local alternative weekly City Pages held an informal roundtable on issues related to House of Oracles: A Huang Yong Ping Retrospective. In what’s hopefully the first of such engagements, senior arts editor Dylan Hicks spoke with actor/director/playwright Aditi Kapil; Mingjen Chen, president of the Chinese American Association of Minnesota; and Jim Bovino, co-founder of the Minneapolis-based performance collective Flaneur Productions. I especially like this exchange on the bug- and lizard-filled coliseum Theater of the World:
Aditi: Yeah, and then I started thinking: If that’s the theater of the world, then who are these ones that have escaped?
Dylan: I know that piece was working on several levels, and that it was also inspired by Jeremy Bentham’s panopticon and all that, but I found that I struggled with my own literalism. I was trying to match the creatures with their geopolitical representatives. So I was thinking, which one is the U.S.?
Aditi: The lizard [laughs].
Jim: Whatever Huang Yong Ping’s statement was or wasn’t, though, there’s nothing he can do to control the behavior of those animals. You can put them in there, but then you don’t know–is the cricket gonna chew off the lizard’s toe?
Dylan: Well, you can predict what their behavior will be.
Jim: But the minutiae of their behavior you can’t control. They’re live animals, and they’re not going to adhere to your set principles.
And when Aditi looks over and here comes a locust, the whole panopticon reference is subverted by the jailbreak. The idea that we’re looking in on this contained world is subverted by those accidents, which seems very much in keeping with his aesthetic, of introducing randomness and so forth. I mean, maybe they drilled a little hole in the cage.