Some thoughts about LEWIS FOREVER: Guide to Kinship and Maybe Magic and what I am imagining at the moment.

by sarritalewis

November 13th, 2010

The overall fictional premise of my individual portrait is that I am going back with the help of fellow collaborators to the place of my birth and performative origins (Santo Domingo, DR) in order to create and present a community performance event.

I moved from the DR to the United States when I was 6 years old and have been living and working in Berlin, Germany for almost 7 years. So why Santo Domingo?

Very often when I introduce myself, or have to fill in a form  I am asked to state where I am from as if this is a defining characteristic of who I am. It is something that I have gotten used to and haven’t spent a lot of energy thinking about.  However through this constant reiteration I am continuously faced with the questions: What does it mean that I was born there and does that have anything to do with my personalty, work or the things that I am interested in at the moment? In addition I am also dealing with other peoples projections of that fact. I think that everyone in some way deals with the idea of cultural identity and community in an increasingly transient and globalized world.

Somehow for reasons that are not yet clear to me I like the fantasy of going to Santo Domingo because it reveals  my own curiosity about a place that has become quite other to me. I have to deal with my own projections of what that place is.  I haven’t been part of a community in Santo Domingo for over 26 years, I know that my desires do not lie in “finding myself” by going back, but rather in exploring how communities are built regardless of reductive categorizations such as “place of birth”.

I want to theatrically deal with these ideas by creating a guide/journey consisting of a performative workshop. A workshop is a place of labor and I believe that communities are often created in this context. Why performance? According to sociologist Erwin Goffmann in his book Frame Analysis, he exhaustively examines the ways that individuals are playing roles in front of other people and how  it is basically impossible to truly “be yourself” within the presence of another human being.  What roles then do we assume within the frame of cultural identity?

LEWIS FOREVER: Guide to Kinship and Maybe Magic begins with a projection of a place of my birth and where my interests in performance began. A  fantasy created in Berlin where I am currently living, working and part of several communities. A site to play with the  idea of cultural identity, community and performance and the complications that it entails.

Inside the workshop I would play the role of guide/host/facilitator and participants would play the roles of tourist/guest/and fellow collaborators within this structure. The workshop is a place of play and exploration, deconstruction and reconstruction.  Collectively we would engage in community type activities within a very stylized environment, a set, a fictional environment that would include projections of different places in Santo Domingo as well as projected depictions of Dominican culture juxtoposed with those in Berlin.

I imagine that the seed material will be  4 scripts that will be staged withing the workshop that were written by LF titled  Puro Teatro. Puro Teatro will be used to highlight the idea of not only performance but also as a foundation to explore the idea of the “original “and or  “authentic” within a theatrical context. Other elements will include a construction of different ways we interpret and think about community and performance.

The second phase, or journey  includes me traveling to Santo Domigo. There the structure of the workshop that was created in Berlin will be re-constructed with new collaborators using  projections within a context that is entirely foreign to me. I have started to contact cultural institutions to see if I can work there and realize some part of this project  in 2011. Until now I haven’t gotten any responses. Might have to literally knock on some doors during my visit between Dec 14-January 8th.

At the moment I see the film as a way of combining these two experiences of community performance. As a way of realizing elements of the fantasy that might not actually be feasible.

Thats where I’m at at the moment would love to here some thoughts and or ideas about this.