New Aesthetics is a two-week summer intensive for mid-career artists. Every two years, Theatre Replacement invites a pair of international artists to share their practice with a small group working artists from around the world.
July 19-30, 2021
With Tania El Khoury and Mac Wellman
New Aesthetics is about bringing the world’s top performance makers to Vancouver for two weeks and inviting them to shake up our expectations, invoke change, confirm suspicions and invigorate our practices as makers and artists. As participants, it’s about giving over control and running blind with others who have similar appetites for the new—whatever that may be. As hosts, it’s about creating pairs of performance leaders that can, in combination, bring us to places where we actively question whatever it is we think we’ve been doing. These questions might arise in-studio during the two weeks, or they might pop up the next time we get to making something. So, it is with great excitement that we announce our 2021 facilitation team of live artist Tania El Khoury and writer and teacher Mac Wellman—an extraordinary pair of artists who each continue to shape contemporary performance today.
As much as any artist working in live art today, Lebanese born and UK based Tania El Khoury explores what it means to participate as an audience member. Her body of work is both fiercely and compassionately political in its content but also, and as just as importantly, in how it tasks the viewer with interacting with the materials, actions and questions she makes available. Two of her works that immediately jump out for me are 2011’s Maybe If You Choreograph Me You Will Feel Better which was my introduction to her work and more recently, 2016’s Gardens Speak, which Vancouver audiences were able to experience at PuSh last year. Each so smart, touching and beautifully executed in asking an audience, or perhaps better, collaborator, to negotiate a creative, and ultimately social experience.
After being aware of his work for years and reading a number of his stories and plays, I finally saw my first Mac Wellman work Muazzez, a solo work about a verbose and disgruntled cigar factory abandoned on a distant planet, in 2014. I personally can’t think of a more simultaneously inspiring, confounding and accomplished writer (recipient of multiple awards including three Obie’s and a Guggenheim Fellowship) or equally influential teacher of contemporary English playwriting working today. Wellman is an originator of the contemporary New York theatre scene and directly responsible for educating a cross section of its top writers and creators including Young Jean Lee, Annie Baker, Thomas Bradshaw and Tina Satter to name a few.
For the moment, the hope is that we will be gathering in Vancouver for New Aesthetics. That said, it is more than possible the program may have to move online. We will determine our path forward over the next few months as the situation continues to evolve and a final announcement regarding New Aesthetics being online or in person, on some combo of the two, will be made on December 1, 2020. If you have any immediate questions or concerns, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Aesthetics is produced by Theatre Replacement with our community partner, Simon Fraser University’s School for the Contemporary Arts.
Photos used on these pages are by Tim Matheson, Sophia Wolfe and the participants and instructors of New Aesthetics.
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