israel horowitz in shenzhen!

Playwright and screenwriter, Israel Horowitz is visiting Shenzhen in conjunction with the Fat Bird premiere of his play, Line, which has been performed at the 13th Street Repertory since 1974. We’re excited!

On Saturday, Israel will be giving a free talk about over fifty years creating for the stage and screen. Venue: OCAT B Gallery; Time: 15:00. If you’re in Shenzhen, don’t miss this chance to meet a theater great!

The play will be performed in Chinese on April 5 through April 8, 2016. Venue: Nanshan Cultural Center, small theater. Tickets can be purchased through WeChat or at the door.


children’s baishizhou

As part of the Hanshake 302 program, Lora and Lihua have been running a theatre workshop at the Mingzhu culture station in Baishizhou. Workshop content has included games, narrative structure, and exploring Baishizhou. The children developed short pieces about their lives in a Baishizhou. A few observations:

1) Baishizhou (and other urban villages) are home to two generations of Shenzhen youth–the children of migrants and recent high school and college graduates who have migrated to the SEZ. The urbanized villages shelter Shenzhen’s future;

2) The young children have grown up in Baishizhou. They have improvised playgrounds and special places. Of note, they don’t actually know where Baishizhou’s boundaries are, and they have also figured out how to sneak into neighboring gated communities;

3) The children run relatively freely in Baishizhou. Unlike highly protected children in upscale communities, in Baishizhou the children mingle more widely and I am reminded of studies about US suburbs, where community friendships grew out of children’s play.

Today, we ran a dress rehearsal in Baishizhou. On Feb 23 at 2:30 pm we will bring Baishizhou children to perform at the Biennale Venue A. The performance will help us think through the question, what can we learn from the urban villages? Impressions of dress rehearsal, below.

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crossroads: staged reading

So, yesterday afternoon we read “Crossroads” onstage at the Mizzou Jesse Wrench Memorial Auditorium. Despite snow days and ice and broken cars, the show went on and Fat Bird had a great time. “Crossroads” is an early play by Yang Qian that looks a the moral confusion and disfunction that have shaped and been shaped by Shenzhen boomtimes. Impressions, below:

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crossroads: poetry reading

Yesterday evening shared poetry with good friends old and new: Steve Schroeder, Walter Bargen, Clarence Wolfshohl, and Huichun Liang. Impressions, below:

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crossroads: a missouri china encounter

Fat Bird has been in Columbia MO, running a theatre workshop at Mizzou. Today at 4 pm we will have a staged reading of “Crossroads” by Yang Qian, directed by Song Jie and performed by Mizzou students. Happiness all around. Updates forthcoming.

impressions from urban fetish

A few shots from the performance! From handpuppets through sandcastles to silver models of buildings that landed like science fiction extraterrestials, urban fetish was a a celebration of creativity, desire and excess.

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urban fetish / baishizhou


Fat Bird premieres another play!

This Saturday and Sunday afternoon at the Value Factory, Fat Bird will perform Urban Fetish / Baishizhou. After the performance, I will lead a discussion about “Life, Labor and Desire” in and around the Shenzhen Dream. The show and discussion begin at 2:30 and will end between 4:30 and 5:00, depending on how lively the discussion gets.

Here’s the curatorial statement from Yang Qian (urban fetish baishizhou curatorial statement english):

Discussion Theater
A Historic Interlude that did not, will not and cannot Exist

Sun up; work
Sundown; to rest
Dig well and drink of the water
Dig field; eat of the grain
Imperial power is? and to us what is it?

The fourth; the dimension of stillness.
And the power over wild beasts.

– Canto 47, Ezra Pound

The life that Ezra Pound described was once quite close, with memories only three generations away from the present.

However, today we live in a world where you are what you own. This is a material era, transforming fetishism into poetic theater.

At 2:30 p.m. on the fourth and fifth days of January 2014, during the Fifth Edition of the Shenzhen Hong Kong Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/ Architecture, in Venue A, Fat Bird Theatre invites each member of the audience to travel to a future Baishizhou. As one of the lucky property owners, you will experience unimaginable luxury from your seat in the theatre. Indeed, this surreal, poetic experience will make your neighbors – homeowners in Portofino, Shenzhen’s most expensive real estate development – envious because their future has already been built. But you are about to create a future that can only belong to you. Compared to them, you are successful.

In the theater, you will see a community buried, and on its ruins a dreamlike city emerge, and you and others like you will own this new world. You will see a place where 140,000 migrant workers once lived. Like you, they came to realize the Shenzhen Dream: wearing designer clothing, luxury housing, and lazy shopping mall days. But you are the lucky one; they have been pushed aside. Compared to them, you are successful.

You own a car, but sometimes you walk the streets of Shenzhen, and when you do, you see the posters that read, “When you arrive, you are a Shenzhener”. But in this theater you are sure of one truth: “Arriving you live in an urban village, when you get out, you are a Shenzhener”. So your experience in theater will tell you – the urban village is not Shenzhen. Urban village residents are not Shenzheners. Compared to them, you are successful.

If this theatrical experience confirms your belief in objects, your desires, and your optimism about the future then you should have no doubts about what you do and will obtain.

The discussion theater Urban Fetish / Baishizhou is a symbolic exploration of architecture and its objects, urban forms and what it means to create an environment. It is a meditation on the meaning of the urban village, a historically specific artifact. It is part of a search to discover the meaning and problems of urbanization.

After the performance, Dr. Mary Ann O’Donnell will lead a discussion with the audience on the topic, “Life, Labor, and Desire”.

biennale update

For those interested in the 2013 edition of the biennale, here’s the website. Alas, many of the pictures are distorted, but upside? Fat Bird’s Urban Village Fetish / Baishizhou is featured today!

opening at handshake 302!!

Handshake 302 is a 12 sq meter effeciency apartment, which is transformed through changing site-specific installations. We are open Wednsdays from 19:00 to 21:00, and Saturday and Sunday, 15:00 to 17:00. Our first show opens October 20 with two installations, “Accounting (算数)” and “Exchange Corner (交换角)”. “Accounting” is a room-size installation, collaboratively conceptualized, designed, and installed by Lei Sheng, Liu He, Mary Ann O’Donnell, Wu Dan and Zhang Kaiqin. “Exchange Corner” by performance artist Fang Fang is installed in the tiny kitchen space of the efficiency appartment. Here’s the poster:

The poster for “more music” with Peter Moser is also ready for the October 20 19:00 performance at the Baishizhou Cultural Plaza. Here’s that poster:

Very much a “yeah us!” moment chez CZC特工队.

handshake 302

CZC logosCZC特工队 is a group organized to engage Shenzhen’s urban villages through art, theater, and social media documentary projects. Our first project is called “Handshake 302”.

The concept behind Handshake 302 is simple: Baishizhou is our “artspace”, which has its office at Shangbaishi, second block, building 49, apartment 302, a 15 sq meter conveniency apartment in Shangbaishi.

We will use the actual apartment to commission and develop installations. Our first project is “Numbers” and will open on October 10. In addition, we work with visual artists, performing artists, and writers to develop projects that engage and extend Baishizhou. We will use the Baishizhou Culture Plaza (and outdoor stage) to develop performance pieces. On October 20, for example, Peter Moser will work with local street musicians to create a communnity concert. We also encourage artists and performers to create and install / perform works throughout Baishizhou. Fat Bird, for example, is currently developing a piece that uses the Tangtou rowhouses as their stage.

Handshake 302 has been accepted by the 2013 Shenzhen-Hong Kong Architecture Biennale as a collatoral venue, bringing Baishizhou into conversation with the main venues in Shekou.

Impressions of 302 and its immediate environment, below.

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