Juleana Enright | Controlled Burn Featured Artist

Juleana Enright | Controlled Burn Featured Artist

Controlled Burn artist Juleana Enright on

Tell us about the work you’re performing at Controlled Burn. What’s it about?

For my piece, “To Wash the Native Out of Us,” I wanted to create an audio and visual experience based on stories recanted from my family about being put into Indian boarding schools at a really young, impressionable age. I always grew up hearing these stories, but it wasn’t until I was older that I realized the history of Native culture being stripped away and the abuse that happened at these “schools” wasn’t a history that many non-Native individuals knew of. We often don’t find ourselves in history books, depicted as we are, as we were; we’re given a historical context that isn’t our own. I wanted to create something that allowed the audience to be immersed in an oral storytelling that was real and raw and, specifically, ours. For me, although these stories aren’t my own personal trauma, they are an intergenerational trauma, a shared blood trauma. The importance of keeping them alive, in their authentic form, establishing identity and talking about the separation of identity, was crucial to my process. 

What motivates your work as an artist? 

Uniting community; exploring identity; personal evolution; storytelling; the act of authentic self 

Talk about your background. What sort of experiences are you bringing to this production? 

My background has predominantly been focused on arts writing and the role of curator. I had a solo curatorial debut at Gamut Gallery in 2018 for an exhibit titled “Soft Boundaries,” which explored the vulnerable narrative as an act of healing and liberation. Since then, I was fortunate enough to be involved in 2019’s Lightning Rod production, which gave me the opportunity to perform in, write and direct a theater performance, something I hadn’t done since I was in high school. For this project, I wanted to push myself to explore retrieving, editing and mixing audio, and also to create a storyline that was incredibly vulnerable and difficult to share. I cried a lot through the editing process, hearing the pain and emotions that still defined my auntie and mom’s current sense of self. As a writer, I’m familiar with how the process of telling the story defines how universally palatable and impactful it can be, so I’m bringing that to the table. For this project, I wanted to translate how I do that with written word to a spoken word format of storytelling. 

Have you been involved with 20% Theatre in the past?

I haven’t! I’m more than thrilled to be part of 20% Theatre’s programming and excited to see more works from them this year and beyond. 

Which artists and/or performances have inspired you?

I’m the co-curator of a monthly performance and dance night, Feelsworldwide, and literally every show that my fellow curator, Dom Laba, and I have been part of has been overwhelmingly inspiring. Every artist we’ve worked with to make those events happen, has brought forth an experience that was raw, experimental, radical, thoughtful, original and, above all, hugely impactful on my existence as a queer artist in Minneapolis. 

Are you working on any other projects at the moment that you’d like to share?

Feels is an on-going project for Dom and I and we hope to expand our vision, so that’s forever on my horizon. I also have a feature coming out for Make MN Magazine on the illustration and fashion design duo, MegoLisaLand, which I can’t wait to have premiered in print. 

Aside from your artistic work, how do you spend your time? What are some of your hobbies or passions in life?

I’ve been kind of a recluse this winter, but DJing is my passion and I’m constantly on the prowl for new music to play out. I spend a lot of time making playlists and mixing beats.  

What’s your favorite thing to do in the Twin Cities?

I think we have an incredible art and theater scene here, so, when I can, going to art exhibitions and independent queer productions, being absorbed in that atmosphere and interacting with queer creatives is a highlight for me. 

Who are your favorite artists right now and why?

Honestly, so many artists who I’m sharing the bill with for Controlled Burn are among my favorites – Baki, Keila Anali Saucedo, Johanna Keller Flores, snem DeSellier, Maitreyi Rey (all of whom I was fortunate to work with on Lightning Rod). Sarah White, who I’m forever in awe of in terms of reparations and activism. Mixie, Puffy, Janet Regina Kolterman, booboo, Teighlor McGee, Godzilita, Kamilla Love, Ness Nite, Ashley Mari, Jenna Cis, Queenduin, Yasmeenah, Maiya Lea – like, literally all the artists who have been involved in Feelsworldwide. Dom Laba, who’s just my complete rock in my creative and personal existence, and who won the trust to take beautiful photos of the Native women in my family who hate to be photographed. Marcela, whose work and dynamic presence is inspiring in so many ways and who has been a ‘tour de force’ in helping me find motivation and explore different mediums of my work, and also in just helping me realize that my vision – no matter what abstract form it’s in – is important. 

Why do you think artmaking is important work? 

Expression is just essential to existence. And everyone does it in different ways. If you can be vulnerable and explore your existence through your emotions, your being, through art, then you should. And I hope we can create more spaces to make that accessible, inclusive, and a place to share regardless of how “polished” or “refined” we think our work is. The more experimental, the better. It’s political because it’s personal. And to me, the more artistic expression made by queer POC, trans and non-binary artists we get to experience furthers in creating a presence that says “we exist, we matter, and being made to feel silenced is unacceptable.” 

Juleana will be performing on Saturday, February 15 @ 7:30pm at Controlled Burn: Queer Performance for a World on Fire.

House of Larva | Controlled Burn Featured Artists

House of Larva | Controlled Burn Featured Artists

Controlled Burn artists Çicada L’Amour and Pouchet Pouchet from House of Larva

Tell us about the work you’re performing at Controlled Burn. What’s it about?

ÇICADA L’AMOUR: We are performing a new act called INSECT-A-DROME: think David Cronenberg meets pro-wrestling meets snuff film, but it’s also like a nature documentary. We love riffing on different media genres–the “trashier” the better–as a way to explore queer identity and the effects of interpersonal violence on our bodies and in our fantasies. There’s a lot about voyeurism and alienation in this one. You know. Comedy. 

What motivates your work as an artist in general? 

ÇICADA L’AMOUR: Frustration? Angst? Feeling like there is something under my skin, ready to burst! There’s always that “emotional” or spiritual side. A motivating force. But then there are also specific questions: What does it mean, on a physical level, to be socially constructed, to be shaped by imperialist, racist, and heterosexist powers? What does it mean to contain both the perpetuation of violence and resistance to it? I like that drag centers the building of a persona, and everyone is in on it. Like we are all celebrating this artificiality, and then suddenly “the artificial” character, the drag persona, helps reveal something about the “real me” or the “real you:” how we are made, how we emerge in the world, and how that whole process can be kind of ambiguous, even scary. 

POUCHET POUCHET: This may be bordering on cliche but I really do feel like I need to make art and perform to have a meaningful life. I’m sure my life would be a lot easier in my ways if I wouldn’t keep insisting on performing, making art, or trying projects and techniques. However, I was really very sad when I took a hiatus from dance a couple years ago. So I think in general, there is something in my nature that does need to be doing art to be fulfilled. Artist all the way down, I suppose. But as Max said, I also believe art has a special ability to interrogate parts of our reality that we take for granted as “natural” and therefore, unchangeable. What is it really about gender, for instance, that is so natural? We talk about “nature” versus “nurture”, but there is very little behavior that can be attributed only to nature, and even if it can be, it is still worth interrogating. 

Talk about your background as an artist. What sort of artistic experience are you bringing to this production? 

POUCHET: My mom is a child psychiatrist and I was a very anxious and neurotic child. So, she put me in dance classes and community choir as a type of exposure therapy. It worked very well, although I don’t think she anticipated that I would commit myself so fully to dance and art as I have. I still grapple with anxiety and shyness and I know I’m still neurotic, but I think that brings an interesting tension to performances, and besides, Merce Cunningham was shy, from what I hear. I was a musician and choral singer and classical music nerd for many years, so many of the classical music tracks you hear in House of Larva performances were my suggestion, although not always. 

ÇICADA: I first got into theatre through puppetry and costume, building body sized masks, hand puppets, shadow puppets, etc. In this show, we are doing our finest insect-inspired drag, so I am excited to include that part of me and play around with materials and fabrics that I don’t always get to. It’s also a great time for some more choreography, since McKay is an incredibly talented choreographer. This show really brings these sides of our artistic selves to the table. 

Have you been involved with 20% Theatre in the past and, if so, in what ways?

ÇICADA: Yup. We did Controlled Burn last year. It was awesome! It was an act dedicated to Brett Kavanaugh, but I guess he wasn’t interested in attending. C’est la vie. 

Which artists and/or performances have inspired you?

ÇICADA: This last year? Hands down: Marianne Williamson. What a performance. Slam dunk. Tens across the board.  Love her. The way she articulates and the corresponding movements of the cheeks, the eyes, the corners of her mouth, I am drawn into her persona like a metaphysical whirlpool, the embodiment of everything I both love and hate about new age. “We have a sickness care system,” I mean ugh, so good. Chills. 

POUCHET: My family doesn’t watch sports or wrestling so I didn’t grow up watching it. It wasn’t until a dear friend of mine, Danny Solis, introduced me to WWE, that I understood that professional wrestling is actually America’s most popular, and dare I say, finest theater performance. Professional wrestling is not “real”, it refers to nothing except the most abstract copy of a copy of a fighting match – professional wrestling is hyperreality itself. Professional wrestling is where we witness the real America. 

Are you working on any other projects at the moment or coming up on the horizon?

POUCHET: House of Larva always has many projects in motion on the horizon. We are all very inspired by sci fi, fantasy, horror, so we have a long list of ideas kicking around. 

ÇICADA: We want to do a Western show. Super gay, right? We also wanna poke a little fun at horse girls. There’s this Adam Ant song “Why Do Girls Love Horses,” and I just keep imagining this like tragedy where a cowboy returns home after a perilous trip to find medicine for his wife or something–very that–only to find out his wife’s left him for a horse. Relationships are hard. 

Outside of House of Larva, I am working on a book, The(y)ology: Mythopoetics for Queer and Trans Liberation. It’s sort of a manifestoabout mythmaking in queer and trans spiritual, religious, and theological movements. It’s about loving nonbinary god/s, rethinking what it means to be gendered selves through embodied practices, and imagining a sexually liberated, gender expansive cosmos. I study theology at United Theological Seminary, and this is the culmination of my time there. 

Aside from your artistic work, how do you spend your time? What are some of your hobbies or passions in life?

POUCHET: I used to really love reading and I’ve noticed that since I’m not in school anymore I don’t read very much, so I’m trying to get back in the habit of reading. I love sci fi and fantasy novels. Right now I’m re-reading a sci fi classic, Snow Crash. It was the first place where the word “avatar” was used to represent a person’s digital representation in an online world. If you read this interview and meet me later, please tell me book suggestions, it might seem weird but I’ll be expecting it so it won’t be weird.  

What’s your favorite thing to do in the Twin Cities?

ÇICADA: I love swimming, especially when the e coli levels aren’t too high. I also enjoy watching the orangutans at Como Zoo. 

POUCHET: I just moved to the Twin Cities from Rochester a few months ago so I’m still just so thrilled to be so close to so many artistic opportunities. 

Who are your favorite artists right now and why?

ÇICADA: I have been so excited about the Boulet Brother’s Dragula, particularly drag queen’s Disasterina and Biqtch Puddin and drag king Landon Cider. Weird, scary, sexy, gross. delicious. I got to see Biqtch Puddin when she performed at the Saloon. It’s not really my scene, so I was kinda uncomfortable, not really having it, but the Puddin gets on the stage in full Fiona drag and does this whole Shrek themed number where she’s pulling something–a braid?– out of her ass, and then jump ropes with it, which turns into her donning an ogre mask and leading sing-a-long of “Believer” and I am like yes, that, that is what I want! 

Why do you think artmaking is important work? 

POUCHET: The regular rules of day to day life are boring, restrictive, predictable, and oppressive. We need artmaking to get us out of what is allowed to happen in “regular” behavior. I think artmaking based in the body and performance is especially important because our society tries very hard to create a separation between the body and the mind, and many people conceive of themselves as a mind simply being carried around by a body, an unfortunate and clumsy housing for a brilliant brain. However, they are inextricably connected – and the body has other knowledge for us that isn’t as straightforward or easily pulled out. Bodies are weird and wonderful and uncomfortable and comfortable, and I think performance is a place where we get the opportunity to really explore that and see it laid out and experience it. 

ÇICADA: The fictional—and this is a big part of my upcoming book– is in the middle of what we imagine and what already exists. It uses already present language and images to access a moment that has not happened, even a world that is not yet. I think art creates new myths, and these myths expand our understanding of what is possible. How else could we possibly build a better world? 

Describe your pre-performance ritual if you have one.  

ÇICADA: We like to get our faces real close and just whisper “thank you, thank you, thank you” repeatedly. Or we’ll sing along to Oingo Boingo’s “Little Girls.” However the spirit moves us. 

POUCHET: Yeah, we spend most of the day together before a show, going over act, putting the finishing touches on props. I always force Max to take selfies with me before we go on stage. Max is correct, we always whisper “thank you” to each other at least six times. Are we saying thank you to each other or to Benoit, the patriarchal demiurge of House of Larva’s mythos.  Hard to say. 

Maitreyi Ray | Controlled Burn Featured Artist

Maitreyi Ray | Controlled Burn Featured Artist

Tell us about the work you’re performing at Controlled Burn. What’s it about?

I made a short movie paired with an abecedarian poem – a poem where each line is a successive letter in the alphabet. The poem is about falling in love on a faraway blue planet, and the movie is sort of unrelated – mostly capturing impressions of my winter in Minneapolis.

What motivates your work as an artist? 

I feel motivated by how wonderfully weird and horny the world is around me. I am interested in people having a sensual relationship with my work– sometimes that means arranging a poem so that you can feel a word like “bubble” in your mouth or pairing images together that produce delight, curiosity and sometimes revulsion. I am trans and think it is important to place my body, my desire, my community in a relationship with the strangeness and wonder of the deep sea, space and stars, fungal rhizomes in forests.

Which artists have inspired you?

I love AP Looze’s work so much! There was a piece last Controlled Burn by Jaffa Aharonov that has been on my mind ever since I saw it; that was when I started thinking about my transness as a kind of embodiment that is extra-sensory and spiritual. I am also really inspired by Dua and D. Allen. We are so lucky to live in Minneapolis among so many incredible artists!

What’s your favorite thing to do in the Twin Cities?

I love going to the steam room at the Midtown YWCA! I think it’s so lovely to be in the middle of a city and be in this room sweating in your underwear with strangers. I learn a lot about myself in the steam room.

Maitreyi will be performing on Thursday, February 13 @ 7:30pm at Controlled Burn: Queer Performance for a World on Fire.

Kōl | Controlled Burn Featured Artist

Kōl | Controlled Burn Featured Artist

Controlled Burn artist Kōl on grieving mass exctinction and taking the long view of time.

Tell us about the work you’re performing at Controlled Burn. What’s it about?

My work at Controlled Burn, along with everything I’ve produced lately, is an outward expression of private experiences of grief and isolation in response to the state of life systems on Earth. My method of coping with the potential extinction of almost everything I love has been in taking the long, long view of time— thinking of cycles of catastrophic change and renewal. Did you know that the first and perhaps biggest mass extinction on earth was caused billions of years ago by newly evolved cyanobacteria flooding the atmosphere with a noxious gas produced as exhalation? The air was filled with a compound that was deathly toxic to the anaerobic microbes that almost exclusively populated the world at the time—and is the entire reason that life as we beautifully know it exists today—one big out-breath of Oxygen.

What motivates your work as an artist?

Coping, expression, communication.

Talk about your background as an artist. What sort of artistic experience are you bringing to this production?

I am a writer and a theatrical designer of sound and video. I have also constructed multimedia installations and artworks and spent most of my life writing poetry instead of taking to people.

Have you been involved with 20% Theatre Company in the past?

I have contributed sound, video, and stagehand work to 20% Theatre. They are one of my favorite companies to work with 🙂

Which artists and/or performances have inspired you?

I know it’s a cop-out, but literally everyone in the queer arts community. Our resilience and good humor in the face of such BS all around us all the time is pretty rad.

What else are you working at the moment?

I’m working on a few shows and applying to grad schools.

Aside from your artistic work, how do you spend your time? What are some of your hobbies or passions in life?

I enjoy collecting large stacks of books from the library and then playing the “can I read them all before the fines are larger than the sticker price” game. I also hang out with my cat, garden when it’s nice, and spend quiet time with friends puzzling and gaming.

Describe your pre-performance ritual if you have one.

My body gets really jittery with nerves, so I do a lot of stretching and wiggling around beforehand.

Kōl will be performing on Friday, February 14 @ 7:30pm at Controlled Burn: Queer Performance for a World on Fire.

Hane | Controlled Burn Featured Artist

Hane | Controlled Burn Featured Artist

Tell us about the work you’re performing at Controlled Burn. What’s it about?

I’m an artist and musician in Minneapolis, and my work is from my upcoming album Diamond Eyes, which centers around queerness, revolution, pop culture, disco, and punk culture. Diamond Eyes represents a craving for impact while embracing and arguing about queer culture, among other things. It’s about the truths we discover in ourselves and the pursuit of our deepest desires. Having been deeply embedded in the queer community these past few years as a gogo dancer, I’m telling my stories through pop theatre and rock. 

What motivates your work as an artist? 

Genuine expression, truth-telling, politics, parties, and overwhelming fabulousness.

Talk about your background. What sort of experience are you bringing to this production? 

I’ve been passionately making art of all kinds since I was very young. I’ve always been singing, acting, painting, and writing, and I’m excited to feel a sense of focus with my current pursuits that isn’t always present. It’s important to strike while the iron is hot. I’ve been writing and performing my own music for a decade and have been involved in theatre forever, earning my degree in it in 2016. My artistic experience stems from my life experience, which is wrapped up in a tornado-range of experiences from a young age: great family struggles, poverty, identity conflict, and more, and I’m grateful to have a platform through which to share my stories.

Which artists and/or performances have inspired you?

I love local artists, musicians, burlesque performers, and drag artists. I’m also inspired by Prince, Bowie, and Lady Gaga, particularly her early work. I like theatre that uses wild metaphors to tell interesting human stories. Shock art and visual/emotional impact are important.

Are you working on any other projects at the moment or coming up on the horizon?

My album! Keep your eyes peeled for Diamond Eyes, which is planned to be finished and released in the next few months. There are tracks on this album that I initially wrote a decade ago in high school, intermixed with many new ones. A lot of hard work is about to pay off in fabulous fashion and I couldn’t be more excited. Follow me on instagram @sir.hane for updates.

Aside from your artistic work, how do you spend your time? What are some of your hobbies or passions in life?

Honestly, I love gardening. My plants are where I chill when I crave a certain kind of serenity, while the stage delivers another type of serenity. In fact, I have a track on Diamond Eyes called “Sunflower Sex Drive,” which will be pretty on-the-nose to anyone who knows how much I love my plants. I’m a green queen.

Why do you think artmaking is important work? 

Art communicates in ways that no other language can.

Describe your pre-performance ritual if you have one.  

I spend time stretching, do a quick, light workout, vocal warmups, put on some makeup, review notes for myself, maybe drink some coffee, and if I’m feeling anxious at all, I’ll take a shot of tequila. Then I rush out the door as fast as I can because I’ve taken too long getting ready. xoxo

Hane will be performing on Thursday, February 13 @ 7:30pm at Controlled Burn: Queer Performance for a World on Fire.

Jasper Rubin Hardin | Controlled Burn Featured Artist

Jasper Rubin Hardin | Controlled Burn Featured Artist

Controlled Burn artist Jasper Rubin Hardin on the importance of creating art.

Tell us about the work you’re performing at Controlled Burn. What’s it about?

My piece is a performance of a collection of poems I wrote about the six genders of the talmud. It’s an analysis of the ways my culture used to view gender, and a reframing of what it means to be trans and Jewish.

What motivates your work?

So many things honestly. I create because I’ve never known anything else. I create because it’s a great way to start important conversations. I create because sometimes it’s all my hands are able to do. And I mostly create because it’s what I know I can bring to the world. I want nothing more than to contribute necessary change. 

Which artists and/or performances have inspired you?

Takumba Aiken has deeply inspired me since I was young. His visual art is astounding and the way he’s nurtured and built community here means a lot to me. Meghana and Chetan Junurus’ commitment to by-and-for autistic advocacy through both their writing and the building of their housing center is my biggest inspiration. Sophie Campbell’s comics have a level of importance to the queer cannon in a way I’ll never be able to fully put words to.

Are you working on any other projects at the moment or coming up on the horizon?

I’ve got a few upcoming projects in the next couple months. I’m working on my upcoming performance in The Naked I: Revitalized. I have an upcoming performance at ERR in April. The second issue of my literary journal that is by and for non- and semi-speaking disabled writers and artists is currently open for submissions. It’s called Explicit Literary Journal. And lastly I’ll be reading at the release show for Can’t Somebody Fix What Ails Me?, an anthology by chronically ill and disabled writers. ​

Aside from your artistic work, how do you spend your time? What are some of your hobbies or passions in life?

I spend my time doing disability advocacy and consulting work. I’m often brought in to help local organizations improve their accessibility. I love taking care of animals and going on adventures with my friends. I collect comic books. I love studying resources and learning new facts. I don’t go enough, but I adore song sessions. And I enjoy cooking and making desserts.

What’s your favorite thing to do in the Twin Cities?

Exploring the variety of art communities we have here is always a joy. Also all our parks and lakes are gorgeous.

Who are your favorite artists right now and why?

Amethyst Kiah is a fantastic musician and lyricist. Her voice is enchanting and the way she tells stories inspires my writing. Ryan Smoluk’s sculptures are mesmerizing. His work showcases such a surreal and magical realistic perspective on life.

Why do you think artmaking is important work?

Art is necessary both for each individual culture and as a way to view our world as a whole. Art amplifies the voices of those who aren’t heard otherwise. Art allows people to heal in an inexplicable way.

Describe your pre-performance ritual if you have one. 

I usually listen to Hades Town or In The Heights while I recite my poems to myself.

Jasper will be performing on Thursday, February 13 @ 7:30pm at Controlled Burn: Queer Performance for a World on Fire.

Nakita Kirchner | Controlled Burn Featured Artist

Nakita Kirchner | Controlled Burn Featured Artist

Controlled Burn artist Nakita Kirchner on performance for political and social change.

Talk about your background. What sort of artistic experience are you bringing to this production?

The work I create comes from the impetus of justice. In working with Ananya Dance Theatre and creating work for Dear Gaza (2018, 2019), I investigate the ways in which performance serves as a modality of political and social change. To this production, I bring my experience as a collaborator from past works such as Jaga Qalubna , co-choreographed by Fei Bi Chan.

What motivates your work as an artist?

I am motivated by the potential of dance to serve marginalized communities. I am grateful to have the role models I do in this performance community, and I want to continue that legacy as a growing choreographer and artist.

And which artists and performances have inspired you?

I was beyond inspired by Leila Awadallah’s work Ras Abu ‘Ammar is Here, performed at the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, MI this past November. I’m greatly inspired by Leila in general, and chose to focus my senior undergraduate research project on this performance. I’m inspired by the academic intersection of dance and identity, especially identities that have not always been academically considered or even acknowledged.

Aside from your artistic work, how do you spend your time? What are some of your hobbies or passions in life?

In addition to studying dance at the University of Minnesota, I also study Arabic and Gender, Women & Sexuality studies. I enjoy volunteering teaching English as a second language to immigrants and refugees. I also love to study the works of scholars such as Jasbir Puar and Lila Abu-Lughod.

What’s your favorite thing to do in the Twin Cities?

I enjoy taking walks near the Haha Wakpa/Wakpa Tanka (Mississippi River) in both St. Paul and Minneapolis. I’m honored to witness the beauty of Mni Sota Makoce as I learn more about my responsibilities as a non-indigenous person born and living on this occupied land.

Who are your favorite artists right now and why?

One of my favorite artists right now is Fargo Tbakhi, a queer Palestinian-american artist based in DC. Fargo is an incredible poet who writes about the future of Palestine and ancestral knowledge, and tours his performance work entitled My Father, My Martyr, and Me. Fargo graciously agreed to collaborate with me last year by recording his poem In the year 2148, Wajieh gets Married in Al Khalil, to which I then created choreography that I performed at Dear Gaza (2019).

Nakita will be performing on Saturday, February 15 @ 7:30pm at Controlled Burn: Queer Performance for a World on Fire.

Rahila Coats | Controlled Burn Featured Artist

Rahila Coats | Controlled Burn Featured Artist

Controlled Burn artist Rahila Coats on artmaking and choreography.

Tell us about the work you’re performing at Controlled Burn. What’s it about?

Not there yet came from a range of feelings, ideas. We tried recording moments of truth and absurdity that our body naturally holds. I usually like to choreograph with a structure that heavily relies on improvisation, so to change that practice I made movement that was inspired from moments of dance styles that were in my bones, the dramatization of a body’s capabilities. We have played with imitating each other, through movement, laughter to generate a structure of ambiguity.

What motivates your work as an artist in general?

Butterflies in my stomach, if I could describe the feeling.

Have you been involved with 20% Theatre Company in the past and, if so, in what ways?

This is my first involvement with 20% Theatre, and I am overwhelmed with excitement! I have been fortunate to learn from Taja Will this fall and learn Taja’s work in the Twin Cities, including 20% Theatre, and I feel so fortunate to be able to begin this relationship.

Which artists and/or performances have inspired you?

Abigail Atsenah Atsugah, Kyle Abraham, Nora Chipaumire’s #PUNK 100% POP *N!GGA.

Why do you think artmaking is important work?

We’re not exactly sure why art making is important, but it feels important to us. This artmaking, and spacemaking, does not have any quantifiable value, but we get the chance to care about this a whole lot. And we get to share it, and maybe it still changes something.

Rahila will be performing on Friday, February 14 @ 7:30pm at Controlled Burn: Queer Performance for a World on Fire.

Meet Kassia Lisinski | Sound and Projection Designer

Meet Kassia Lisinski | Sound and Projection Designer

Sound and projection designer Kassia Lisinski on their work in 20% Theatre Company’s world premiere production Unknown.

What is your role for this production of Unknown? What inspired you to join the design team?

I am the sound and video projection designer for Unknown. I have worked with 20% and associated folks in the past and it is always a wonderful experience!

Talk about your background as an artist and designer. How did you become a designer?

The head of the theatre department at my college (a sound and lighting designer) poached me from the art department after I took his class out of curiosity!

What sorts of stories or productions do you find most compelling to design for?

I really enjoy dark and scary stories as well as abstract and experimental pieces.

What are you as a person bringing to this production?

I’m bringing a great team spirit!

What have been some challenges and/or unique opportunities of designing for Unknown?

Time constraints! It’s such a sign of the times for everyone I know and work with to be exhausted and stretched thin all the time to pursue our art, and I’m no exception. I have never designed sound and video together for a straight show (no pun intended) and I learned a lot about how they can play together.

What social issues are important to you and how do they inform the art you create?

I think it’s nice to be nice to people and remember that we have always existed.

What artists, playwrights, and/or performances have inspired you over the years?

All of them!

Have you been involved with 20% Theatre in the past?

I designed sound for The Terror Fantastic.

Do you have any other projects coming up you’d be excited to share?

I am participating in Toot Suite as a performer and media artist on Sunday, November 10th at 7 pm at Fresh Oysters, as well as designing sound for Gadfly Theatre’s Final Frontier Fest: In a World, which opens November 8th at the Haunted Basement and Steadfast, a riff on the story of the Tin Soldier, which opens next month at Open Eye Figure Theatre on the 2nd.

When you’re not designing, how do you spend your time? What are some of your hobbies or passions in life?

I’m working on applying to graduate schools right now, and also continually composing several epic high-fantasy and queer hard sci-fi novels in my head…

Don’t miss Kassia’s work in the world premiere of Unknown October 18-27 at The Crane Theater in Minneapolis.

Meet snem DeSellier | Lighting Designer

Meet snem DeSellier | Lighting Designer

Lighting designer snem DeSellier on their work for 20% Theatre Company’s upcoming world premiere production Unknown.

What work are you doing for this premiere of Unknown? And what inspired you to join the team?

I’m really excited to be light designing ​Unknown​! The project was mentioned to me during tech [rehearsals] for Q-STAGE last spring, which had been my first real taste of the exciting work coming out of 20%. Within reading the first few pages I was ready to bring these sweet and complicated lesbians to lit life. A big factor was that I’m a journal person. I’ve been carrying one everywhere I go for years and years and often get fixated on the “what will become of these pages” and “how can I collaborate with my future archivist from today’s page”. The way those questions live within this play, combined with growing up closeted in my own family and with an Italian grandmother who shed so much of her Italian to fit into an American mold means that this story has its cords snaked in my heart. With its long love and new love and tricky love and recorded love—it’s full of things I love.

How did you become a designer? What sorts of stories are you most excited to design for?

My making has always been very webbed and organic and sticky. I’d say the core of my making is devising, often via dance, poetry, and design. Sometimes I think I’m more design-dancer, light-poet. I fell into design when all my directorial proposals were actually fully articulated set plans, and then again when I found out that you could paint mood and breath in light choreography. Light is such an in-between medium, and as an in-between maker it took my heart on impact. Since then I’ve spent a lot of time with creative teams and new scripts building a repertoire of light language. In my design, I’m drawn to stories that shift through time and place and proximity, stories that can believe in light, that can lean into it.

What are you bringing to Unknown with your designs?

Unknown exists in a split but tethered world. We have a clear tether in the overlapping of space, we can feel the whole story as layered and connected, but I think light can give us the tones we need to hold these worlds distinctly. Lights are a key part of the shift that demonstrates the two worlds are separated by physical distance, time and generational intimacy.

What have been some challenges or unique opportunities about designing for Unknown?

Well, it’s my first time designing at The Crane! Every new space brings a new world of possibles and also a host of learning curves. I’m figuring out how to still be in a learning process while also remembering how to trust myself and my ability within this craft.

Don’t miss snem’s work in the world premiere of Unknown October 18-27 at The Crane Theater in Minneapolis.