PARTICIPANT INC is proud to present THE PERILS OF OBEDIENCE, the next iteration of a multi-year, multi-venue project conceived by Itziar Barrio. An analysis of seduction of power, the work cultivates conditions for unscripted consequences to probe codes and limits of film, performance, sculpture, and installation. The scripted environment of the set will become the site for an exhibition of multiple sculptural elements that reveal underlying structures of display — sculptures as bodies, hooks, pedestals, and ubiquitous manufactured objects. The pairing of these objects and lingering film mechanisms reveal a lexicon and grammar comprising the field of operations of this time-based project.

Directed by theater director Charlotte Brathwaite, with dramaturge by Anne Erbe, THE PERILS OF
OBEDIENCE casts performers Prema Cruz, Kelly Haran, Miriam A. Hyman and Tanisha Thompson within parameters both fictional and non-fictional as audiences witness a performance and the making of a film. Designating the public as voyeurs of the creative process, the project analyzes its form in the process of constructing it. Launched in real time, the work deploys material from previous incarnations and newly devised texts: actors perform autobiographical narratives, scripts from the iconic films Basic Instinct and A Street Car Named Desire, excerpts from the Accelerate Manifesto, and a narrative about New York City Draft Riots of 1863.

Enacting these scripts, manifestos, and narratives, actors assert their subjectivity and desire within existing power dynamics of the group. This speaking to power reestablishes group dynamics as characters assume roles connected to human authority — a leader, an anti-leader, a soldier, etc. Throughout the process, text navigates through multiple platforms and textures, mining post-structural explications of performativity and bodies in labor. The constructed situations — film production (as) performance and the exhibition format itself — suggest the extent of human action and
find agents of participation in all.  

Director: Itziar Barrio
Theater Director: Charlotte Brathwaite
Performers: Prema Cruz, Kelly Haran, Miriam A. Hyman, James McGinn and Tanisha Thompson Dramaturge: Anne Erbe
Technical Director: E Lee Smith
Second Camera: Sarah Tricker
Photographer: Olivia Divecchia
Project Manager: Xavier Acarin
Project Assistant: Jacqueline Kuper
Production Assistant: Jacqueline Popjes
Graphic Designer: Jaume Marco

Scenes adapted from film scripts and plays:
A Streetcar Named Desire, 1947, Play by Tennessee Williams
Opening Night, 1977, Directed by John Cassavetes
Who is Afraid of Virginia Wolf?, 1962, Play by Edward Albee

Texts compiled from:
Account of the Terrific and Fatal Riot at the New York Astor Place Opera House, 1849, Published by H.M. Ranney
A Cyborg Manifesto, 1983, Written by Donna Haraway

Music Tracks: Alex North, “Four Deuces,” A Streetcar Named Desire Soundtrack; 1951 Rihanna, “Work,” 2016; Robyn Hood, “Heroine,” 2016

Casting THE PERILS OF OBEDIENCE: A Performance is the second stage of visual artist Itziar Barrio's exploration in power dynamics and constructed situations. Using the methods of casting, the performance will unfold the wills and desires of the actors to succeed and be recognized. By placing them within fictional and non-fictional parameters, whether movie scripts or their own lives, Barrio reveals the production of power through seduction.

Following an open call, actors will audition for four full days with theater director Niegel Smith and will undergo a selection process. Open to the public for only two days the entire process will be recorded and included in a resulting video piece. Exploring simultaneously the limits and in betweens of theater, film and performance art, the live recording emphasizes the experience that is being created by actors and audience.

The four selected actors will be part of THE PERILS OF OBEDIENCE, consisting of building a scene in real time. The first stage of the project was carried out in Spain during BAD, Bilbao Theater and Contemporary Dance Festival in 2010.

The fine line between the persona and the character finds its mirror in the audience, who executes its silent power by being present. Their presence implies a voyeuristic disposition and it functions to unveil the group dynamics and the negotiation of social roles and rules.

Pushing the actors to reveal their limits on stage, underlining the narratives present in any situation the performance frames an experience where conventions are decoded, contemporary fears of domination are confronted, and exhibitionism and social acceptability are critically examined.

THE PERILS OF OBEDIENCE is inspired by Stanley Milgram's psychological experiments which began in 1961, a few months after the trial of the Nazi Adolf Eichmann. Milgram wished to test how much pain a person would inflict on another simply because this was asked of them for the purposes of a scientific experiment. As Hannah Arendt reminds us, "under conditions of tyranny it is far easier to act than to think." Barrio analyzes how obedience to a higher authority, even in democracy, can lead to extreme consequences and can involve large numbers of the population.

Casting THE PERILS OF OBEDIENCE: A Performance is a recipient of NYFA's Emergency Relief Fund Grant and sponsored by Etxepare Basque Institute.

As the next stage of her ongoing project titled THE PERILS OF OBEDIENCE, artist Itziar Barrio continues her exploration of power dynamics and constructed situations.

Rehearsal THE PERILS OF OBEDIENCE is a performance that manipulates the methods of a rehearsal, revealing the mechanisms used behind the scenes of a production. Repetition and variation are taken to the extreme to expand the possibilities of the performance. Akin to the sampling and rhythm of music remixes the use of repetition provides an alteration on the narrative linearity. By including a past historical event, an iconic scene and fragments of a recent manifesto, the parameters of fiction and non-fiction are diminished. Blurring the fine line between the persona and the character, the performers’ desires and motivations are exposed, creating intensified moments.

In continuing collaboration with theater director Niegel Smith, Rehearsal TPO generates a narrative by placing the cast in specific roles and situations where power is contested, performed, and analyzed. The audience will witness the working process of a rehearsal, designed as a performance and where the entire process will be recorded and edited for a final video piece. The four participating actors were selected in the previous stage of the project, Casting THE PERILS OF OBEDIENCE, presented at the Abrons Arts Center in March 2013. Following an open call, the selection process was exposed to the audience, who could experience the excitement and seduction of an audition.

In Rehearsal TPO the audience exercises a silent power between the usual theatrical disposition and that of an intruder in a rehearsal. Their presence multiplies the power dynamics in the room, and elaborates an interchange of desires and projections. The materials generated in this new edition will be the base for the next step of the project.

Rehearsal THE PERILS OF OBEDIENCE is the recipient of Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant and sponsored by Etxepare Basque Institute.

Director: Itziar Barrio
Theater Director: Niegel Smith
Casting Director: Arnold J.Mungioli, CSA (Mungioli Theatricals, Inc.)
Casting Assistant: Lindsey Bristol
Project Manager: Xavier Acarin
Technical Director: Erin Smith
Technical Assistant: Ateqah Khaki
Photographer: Michael Hart

Director: Itziar Barrio
Theater Director: Niegel Smith
Performers: Kelly Haran, Stuart Luth, Davon Rainey & Kelly Rogers
Project Manager: Xavier Acarin
Technical Director: Erin Smith
Second Camera: Celina Alvarado
Lighting Designer: Jon Harper
Photographer: Olivia Divecchia