Neo-Futurism in a Nutshell
Neo-Futurism is a new approach to performance which advocates the complete awareness and inclusion of the actual world within the theater in order to achieve a goal: to bring people to a greater understanding of themselves and each other. Rather than upholding contemporary theatrical conventions of character, setting, plot, and the separation of audience and performer, Neo-Futurism aims to present actual life on stage by creating a world in the theater which has no pretense or illusion. This means that:
1) You are who you are. Your name is your name. Your age is your age. Your appearance, physical condition, and way of speaking, as well as your personal history and life experiences are none other than your own. You grew up in your hometown. You’re gay, you’re straight, you’re married. You’ve never been to Seattle. You know who you are and what you’ve done. Use it.
2) You are where you are. In most cases this means on a “stage” in front of an audience. Currently, specifically, this means you are sitting in front of a computer screen, reading this document. That’s not a T.V. you’re watching. This isn’t a castle in the Alps. The gun is fake. If you need a prop, get it. If the ambience is wrong, change it.
3) You are doing what you are doing. All tasks are actual challenges. If you can’t do something, you must be actually physically unable to do it. If you’re pulling, really pull. If you’re eating, really eat. If you go up on your lines, you’ve gone up on your lines. If you’re not supposed to know what’s going to happen next, make sure as hell you can’t know. You’re not sleeping on stage, you’re lying there with your eyes closed. No need to “act” tired as you enter the stage with an empty suitcase. Fill it up with rocks, run around the block three times. You’ll be tired. No need to dredge up a lot of emotion to endow that sheet of paper you’re holding with all the seriousness and poignance of your father’s death certificate. Bring it in. If your father’s alive, what are you doing saying he’s not?
4) The time is now. Deal with real events in your current life in your current world. If you broke up with your boyfriend on Tuesday, don’t say you’re still together on Friday. If a politician pissed you off by what they said six months ago, don’t complain about it now. It’s history. Write about how it affects you today. Theater is the medium to reflect what is going on now, because theater is going on now. Theater takes place in real time and space. The audience is right in front of you right now. Deal with that.
The bottom line is that Neo-Futurism does not buy into “the suspension of disbelief” – it does not attempt to take the audience anywhere else at any other time with any other people. The idea is to deal with what is going on right here and now. These guidelines are not set forth as “rules and regulations” but more as a jumping off point with which, it is hoped, people can find a greater meaning in their everyday lives. The aim is to empower and affirm not just the lives of the performers, but the lives of the audience members as well.
~ Greg Allen, 2004
The NY Neo-Futurists are…
2014 Drama Desk Nominees
2013 NYIT Nominees
2012 Drama Desk Nominees
2011 Recipients of the NYIT Outstanding Performance Art Award
2010 Recipients of the NYIT Caffe Cino Award
2009 NYTheatre People of the Year!
2009 Winners of the Village Voice Readers’ Choice for Performance Art!