American Realism

American Realism
Conceived and directed by Katherine Brook
Written by Liza Birkenmeier

Produced by Katherine Brook / TELE-VIOLET, developed at Carnegie Mellon University's New Works Festival in Pittsburgh, PA (2011) and The Invisible Dog in Brooklyn, NY (2012) and presented at the San Diego Museum of Art and Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (2012).

American Realism is a one-day endurance performance for eight actors, about contemporary labor, spoken through the voices of depression-era California migrant workers. Disassembling notions of realism and investigating the possibilities of reenactment without authenticity, this piece exposes the ennui of laborers, from dot-com start-up entrepreneurs to immigrant maintenance workers. The text is composed by Liza Birkenmeier from an audio archive of Depression-era Farm Security Administration (FSA) work camps in California, called “Voices from the Dust Bowl: The Charles L. Todd and Robert Sonkin Migrant Worker Collection.” The archive, recorded by the WPA, includes songs, trials, meetings and testimonials. In American Realism these nostalgic recordings are reconfigured into a play about labor and community in The United States of America today.

Set and Lighting Designer: Josh Smith
Video designer: Michael Epstein
Costume designer: Tyler Holland
Choral arrangements by Chris Giarmo

Cast: Nanc Allen, Cory Antiel, Liza Birkenmeier, Erica Bitton, Graziela Damien, Ben Ferguson, Julieta Hoffbauer-Sanchez, Nick Marcucci, Rebecca Martinez, Stephen Tonti, and Daniel Weschler