Yale Cabaret 2016
This piece began with a question of process: How can the instincts and training of improvised music be applied to devised interdisciplinary work with artists from other disciplines? Because in the world of improvised music, often the most satisfying and intense performances are the result of an unforeseen circumstance. A missed cue, a chance session with a new artist, even a broken piece of equipment—these things can become the source of the work, not a hindrance to it. I believe that music in this medium can become a vehicle for unconscious, spontaneous expression, and in turn, the artistic risks and chances can be felt by the audience in a deep, satisfying, and cathartic way. I created Collisions as a trans-media collage play that utilizes improvised music in conjunction with words, images, and dance to explore the creativity released when disparate elements unexpectedly meet head-on.
For Collisions, I assembled a team of collaborators that included three actors, four musicians, two projection designers, two lighting designers, two choreographers, two scenic designers, and two dramaturgs, as well as a co-director, an additional sound designer, a stage manager, a technical director, and a producer. Over a period of six weeks, I led this group in working to craft the scaffolding that would help shape and support the improvised work of the live performances. The resulting shows proved to be incredibly free- spirited and immediate, yet each artist from each discipline had a unique and unusual journey through this process.
In 2017, I attended the FOOT (Festival of Original Theatre) conference at the University of Toronto to speak about Collisions and participate in the panel discussion “Postdramatic and Interdisciplinary Sonic Dramaturgies.”
Conceived and written by Frederick Kennedy
Co-directed - Kevin Hourigan and Frederick Kennedy
Additional text: Jeremy O. Harris
Additional music: Molly Joyce
Choreography: Jake Ryan Lozano, Gretchen Wright
Dramaturgy: Ashley Chang, Jeremy O. Harris
Set Design: Choul Lee, John Bondi-Ernoehazy
Costume Design: Cole McCarty
Lighting Design: Elizabeth Green, Krista Smith
Sound Design: Christopher Ross-Ewart, Frederick Kennedy Projection Design: Yana Biryukova, Michael Commendatore
Frederick Kennedy, drumset/percussion, MAX
Kevin Patton, guitar, custom interactive system design
Evan Smith, saxophone/woodwinds
Matt Wigton, bass
There is neon, the sound of static electricity. The space is lit blue, but slowly, imperceptibly it is shifting red. An anthropologist at a microphone introduces herself. She is studying the effects of repeated concussions on the mind. This applies to athletes, soldiers, victims of crashes and abuse. This turns into musings on the nature of how we develop our own sense of self and how collisions and concussions can also be emotional, metaphorical, cultural. She is insightful, but also humorous. As she continues, a light reveals two dancers, sitting. They start to rise, and then begin tumbling, falling into and over each other and the chairs. After a few moments, the actor’s speech begins to turn into a song. At this point we realize the actor’s microphone is being picked up and processed electronically. The sound of that text is bouncing back and forth and around the room. Lights come up brighter on the two dancers center, and they begin a piece choreographed and rehearsed by one of the collaborators. The musical accompaniment, however, is not rehearsed. It is spontaneous, and these musicians interact with and support the dancers, freely. The projection screens light up with images that evoke a past summer of violence, and then we are with three actors—the anthropologist is now a counselor of some sort; the couple is seeking her help. They’ve lost someone. The performance continues.
•Each performance: a road map, with different performers, destinations, and results.
"The point of mixing media is in the mixing, generally. Here, one is often struck by the wherewithal to sculpt with sound and image and physical performer. Collisions can be a very immersive or contemplative experience, and, in the best tradition of live performance, it makes you glad you were there."
— New Haven Review 2016