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Posts Tagged ‘Julio Cortazar’

Jumpstart Profiles: Meet Justin Rose Of The Brothers Beffa

Posted May 21st, 2012

Ladies and gentlemen, The Brothers Beffa! Photo by Martha Stuckley.

This spring (May 31–June 2), at the Live Arts Studio, we are launching our new performing arts program, Jumpstart, which showcases the work of six emerging artists from the region. The Brothers Beffa, a clown-based theatrical troupe, brings their performance of Lessons for the Lobotomized. Inspired by the words of Argentine fiction writer Julio Cortazar, Lessons follows the story of Phineaus Gage, who survived a large iron rod being driven completely through his head, as he is re-acclimated to society by a pedantic, abusive psychologist and his Pavlovian methods.

The piece is created and performed by Justin Rose, a former cofounder and artistic director of the Montana-based theater company The Candidatos, and Scott Sheppard, who is the artistic director of the Philly-based experimental theater company, The Groundswell Players. Both are currently students at the Pig Iron School for Advanced Performance Training. We caught up with Justin to get some info on the show and his work.

Live Arts: Why is your show title Lessons for the Lobotomized?

Justin Rose: At the time this piece was first conceived, I was living in Missoula, Montana and co-running a theater company called The Candidatos.  We were tasked with creating material for two very different festivals: The Sweet Pea Festival in Bozeman, Montana, where we‘d be performing on the children’s stage, and the Lincoln Center Outdoor Festival in New York, where we’d be performing between dance numbers by the Streb Dance Company. We wanted to create one piece that was capable of satisfying both venues. A friend had given me a book of short stories by Julio Cortazar, the great Argentinean writer, and I fell in love with the “Instruction Manual” section. The tone of these stories was great–weird and absurdist and rich with possibility! So my first thought was, what if someone tried to follow these absolutely absurd instructions? As we proceeded to explore the stories on their feet we tossed the idea of behaviorism in—Pavlov’s dog’s positive reinforcement for the task performed well, negative for failure. The final piece to come into play was the story of Phineaus Gage, the railroad worker who survived a steel spike exploding through his head. Gage was effectively lobotomized by the spike, thus . . . Lessons for the Lobotomized.

LA: Where did each of grow up and what was growing up there like?

JR: I grew up in Ankeny, Iowa, which I guess you could call a suburb of Des Moines now, but when I lived there, there were six miles of cornfield separating the two. Now it’s just like any other Midwest suburban sprawling city full of box stores. Growing up, though, it was quaint. I have fond memories of Iowa. Now, it’s kind of a scary place.

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