Written, Performed & Designed by Nicole Hill, Christopher Loar, Daniel McCoy, Mike Puckett & Yolanda K. Wilkinson
Produced by New York Neo-Futurists
Nominations: Christopher Loar is nominated for Outstanding Sound Design; and Nicole Hill is nominated for Outstanding Innovative Design for Puppetry and Shadow Design
Photo by Lorikay Photography
About this Production
Do you remember a time when you were expected to be seen and not heard? The New York Neo-Futurists have created a show that illuminates these times, using every theatrical tool at their disposal save one: speech. Drawing on images and impressions from their childhood memories, the creators of Mute will take you on a trip into their early years, reflecting on forces that silenced them, and bringing you back to share these immersive moments on stage. Using shadow puppetry, clown work, video, live music, soundscapes, and three-dimensional “GIFs,” the Neo-Futurists ask what remains of the artist when the physical voice is removed.
Christopher Loar, Daniel McCoy and Nicole Hill talk about creating a production about communicating without words.
What attracted you to this project/subject matter?
Nicole: The mandate for the NY Neo Futurist's production of Mute was to create compelling work sans the avalanche of words that we normally use as writer/performance artists. So the challenge of storytelling without the benefit of using the spoken word was key and of utmost interest...
Loar: I liked the creative restriction very much of not using any speech. It provided an opportunity to challenge myself to create something I have never attempted before, a solo movement piece. I also loved aiding and assisting the sound design of other peoples' projects.
Dan: The idea of creating a Neo-Futurist show based entirely in non-verbal theatrical forms. I wanted to challenge us, a very verbal company, to create an evening of theatre in which not a word is spoken, but to do it in such a way that the audience wouldn't even miss hearing our mouth-voices.
What was your favorite part of working on this production?
Dan: Discovering what it was about. In the initial conception, the short plays were each to revolve around the idea of restriction - societal, artistic, self-imposed, what-have-you - and as we worked on building our plays, we realized that each of them was in some way about childhood. All five plays in Mute were about memories, artifacts, or impressions from our formative years, moments in which we felt silenced in one way or another, and how we dealt, and still deal, with that feeling.
Loar: The free and supportive spirit of the creative team
Nicole: I was inspired by the work of the Chicago company "Manual Cinema" (who I saw perform in the Fringe Festival in 2013). They create visually stunning work that looks amazingly "high tech" via the use of live shadow puppetry and the very 'low tech" overhead projector. Exploring and discovering the complexities of working in this medium was a mind expanding joy!
What was the most challenging part of working on this production?
Loar: Creating a sound design that I performed live as well as being a live body in the show.
Nicole: Learning to think in terms of light and shadow & negative and positive space with a mind to projection.
Dan: Probably just the sheer amount of stuff we used for the show. Two digital projectors, two overhead projectors, a live internet feed, a bunch of balloons, a TV/DVD combo, a chandelier made of umbrella frames, about 30 different shadow puppets, a giant rotating screen made of PVC pipe and butcher paper, and so on. Oh, and we had to do a complete set-up and strike every night because we were renting the space by the hour. Yay independent theatre!
What was the craziest thing that happened during this production?
Loar: Tina Howe came to the show. I don't really think that's so "crazy" but it was great to meet her.
Dan: Despite all the material elements listed above, we had a surprisingly smooth run (much credit to our technical director and stage manager). Nothing unexpected ever happened during performance outside of a few inevitable glitches. I guess the craziest thing is that nothing crazy happened. Crazy, right?
What do you want the audience to come away with after watching your production?
Loar: I would like for the audience to feel something and have a good time watching it.
Dan: With the feeling that they've experienced something unique. True to the Neo-Futurist aesthetic, the plays in Mute come from the personal experiences and points of view of each of the writer/performers. I hope the audience left each night knowing that they've been let in on something honest and real.