Posts Tagged ‘Mark McCloughan’

We don’t exist without you: Interview with No Face Performance Group

Posted May 25th, 2017

Jaime Maseda and Mark McCloughan in THE TOP. Photo by Nikki Dodd.

Mark McCloughan and Jaime Maseda, who together are No Face Performance Group, were kind enough to sit down for a chat with us to talk about the THE TOP.  What is THE TOP?  The answer may be more complex than you realize.  But the one thing we’re sure of is that it doesn’t exist without you.

FringeArts: How did the title THE TOP come about? And what was the moment when you realized, we can make a show of this?

Jaime Maseda: “The Top” is the name of a song that plays a prominent role in the piece. We lovingly ripped it off. Hopefully nobody comes for us. All jokes aside, the song’s title has always felt like an apt title. Its simplicity both belies and points towards the grandeur of the song, which is both minimalist and bombastic in its own right. The performance itself has minimalist elements for sure, but we’ve made a point of maintaining a wry and critical engagement with minimalism, which can be a rather oppressive ideology. What began as an exploration self-aware minimalist choreography became a celebration of and engagement in radical intimacy and empathy—albeit through a stripped down, simple gesture.

Mark McCloughan: The song entered the process completely randomly—one day, when we were working in the studio with Magda and Chelsea, Jaime put it on and made a performance proposal about how to interact with the song. It was captivating, and we immediately honed in on it as something to delve into more deeply. We had a sense that there was a piece there, and began exploring how to expand it. We added stuff, we made it more complicated, but nothing seemed quite right. There was this growing sense that the first proposal was more complete than we realized. But to think about making a whole piece based on this very simple initial idea was scary. Would it be enough for a piece? Would it hold the audience’s attention? Eventually, this became a sort of dare, both for us and for the audience. The dare: make it enough.

Jaime Maseda: Speaking for myself, I’m not sure there was a moment of confirming “oh, this works.” Which is for sure terrifying, but also a good sign—a sign that a project is worth pursuing. With a lot—if not all—of the work we’ve made over the past few years, there’s been a definite sense of “We have no idea if this structure succeeds.” And actually, a challenge we often end up giving ourselves is to create pieces that explore totally different measures of success. I think THE TOP is no different!

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The Sincerity Project Photo Diary: Mark’s reading

Posted September 13th, 2016

In 2014, an ensemble of seven intrepid Philadelphia performers gathered at FringeArts to present the first of what will be 13 iterations of the same structured performance. The Sincerity Project is a radical experiment in bringing honesty to a space familiar with artifice, a theatrical anti-play ritual from Team Sunshine Performance Corporation that will be recreated biennially for 24 years. FringeArts is proud to present the second iteration of this ambitious endeavor as part of the 2016 Fringe Festival. Each cast member has shared a collection of photographs from the last two years of their lives, and in anticipation of the premiere we will be presenting a selection of them in the coming weeks.



Me reading from my first published chapbook of poems in Washington, D.C. — Mark McCloughan

Escaping to the Convent

Posted December 10th, 2015

It’s a crazy world.

Just scrolling through Facebook recently has become an exercise of resilience. Gun violence, terrorism, refugee crises, racial inequity. Increased connectivity has led to a sense of shared responsibility. It can feel like an infinite burden. It’s only natural to want to escape. But let’s be real: escape is next to impossible. That overwhelming connectivity is right there, beeping in your pocket as you speed down I-76.carmelite-nuns-chanting-salve-regina

A growing (yes, growing!) number of women, however, have found a way to escape from the world in a very real way: as cloistered nuns.

We’ve been doing a lot of research on the lives of cloistered nuns here at FringeArts to get inside the world No Face Performance Group (an artistic partnership between Jaime Maseda and Mark McCloughan) is creating for Abbot Adam: None. And while much of their lives seem foreign and strange, we’ve found ourselves feeling wistful for a community apart from the world. 

IMG_0649When talking to us about their inspiration for the piece, Mark said, “I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the stricture of monastic life, but also the freedom that many people talk about it granting them. There’s an interplay, it seems, between this stricture and freedom that’s really compelling to me.”

This sentiment is echoed in interviews and testimonials from real cloistered nuns. In an interview with Regina Magazine, Sister Mary Catherine exclaimed, “The cloister frees us immensely! One of the biggest fears in those discerning a contemplative vocation is that the cloister is seen as squashing freedom but it is just the opposite. The cloister broadens us. It frees us from so many cares and concerns.” She goes on to say, “The world is so noisy, both audibly and visually. I really don’t understand how people stay sane!”

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Jenna Horton And The Birth Of Etna

Posted April 23rd, 2013

“I never thought I’d be doing solo-performance. I have a love/hate relationship working alone.”

Hello Etna Mounting!

Hello Etna Mounting!

Jenna Horton, a Philadelphia-based performing artist, brings her one-person performance work Mounting, Etna, May 13 and 14 to Jumpstart, the annual FringeArts showcase designed to identify new and emerging talent in the field of live performance. 2013’s Jumpstart features six artists/companies performing short works, and we here at FringeArts Blog thought we’d catch up with them. Today’s artist—Jenna!

Since attending the Headlong Performance Institute in 2009, Jenna Horton has worked with a number of local companies, including Inis Nua, The Berserker Residents, Team Sunshine Performance Corporation, The Bearded Ladies, Applied Mechanics, and Shakespeare in Clark Park.  She is currently a resident artist at Plays and Players Theater and holds a B.A. in performance studies from Brown University. Check out her website: jennabethhorton.apostrophenow.com, if you’re into that sort of thing (checking out websites, that is).

FringeArts: Why is your show title Mounting, Etna? What inspired its creation?

Jenna Horton: The title is intentionally multivalent, as is a lot of the poetry in the show. For starters, there’s the physical action of mounting, as in mounting Etna as if she were a horse—your horse—or a person—your person [as in belonging to you]. Or you could be mounting her on your wall like you would a painting. Or maybe she’s doing that to you. Mind you, I’m also mounting the show of Etna. Not to mention, there’s a volcano on the east coast of Sicily named Mount Etna that’s very active and provides for the fertile soils surrounding the area. My parents also live in Etna, New Hampshire; but that’s more of a coincidence.

The birth of Etna came from the crashing of two things. I started a notebook a while back and labeled it “bad poetry” and have been putting stuff in it since. When I looked back over it, I realized many of the poems were cut from a similar cloth and could be interesting in a grouping. I started to get an idea for a woman that might host a cooking show, but she wouldn’t be in a kitchen. She’d be in a library and would pull out whisks from desks and smash eggs in books. The piece didn’t quite end up that way, but that was the initial impulse, which eventually combined with Carl Cork, another character of mine. He’s an older man who’s a hermit and deathly afraid of the world, so runs a radio show out of his basement to reach out to people. Anyway, I was working on him a lot, and getting tired of playing this guy who was SO sensitive and SO sad and SO scared and just SO, SO stuck. Instead, I kept wanting to be a WOMAN and a HUNGRY woman at that, who wasn’t as scared of the world but wanted to eat it and kill it even.

FringeArts: Where did you grow up?

Jenna Horton: I grew up in Denver, Colorado. Denver is beautiful, the weather is amazing, and the people are kind. And you can’t beat the close access to the Rockies or the amount of BIG SKY out there. Too many malls though. And everything is spread out and lots of new development, which I like less.  Lots of health nuts that wear their outdoor gear and bike or run. When I was a kid, there were a lot of prairie dogs there too.

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