On Saturday, September 22, the Center for the Arts presents Liebe Love Amour!, an interactive work by Anonymous Ensemble. CFA Intern in Arts Administration Monica Tinyo ’13 interviewed Jessica Weinstein ’02, Anonymous Ensemble member and Wesleyan alum.
Did you love Hilda? If you saw Hilda in the interactive video preview or on stage in Liebe Love Amour!, you undoubtedly love her. I had the fortune of talking to the creator of Hilda (also known as Tall Hilda when on stilts), Jessica Weinstein, who is just as dynamic and charming as her alter-ego Hilda. Jessica is an actress and performance artist currently with Anonymous Ensemble, as well as a Wesleyan alum. As explained in her bio, “Jessica believes in life as theater and theater as life, has insatiable wanderlust, speaks and sings in many languages, and has a thirst to explore new forms of performance every day.”
Jessica has been creating fantastical characters since her time at Wesleyan. Her bio goes on to say that she “has a history of renegade solo missions […] She was […] part of the infamous DOUFAS. When Doofa disappeared in 2004, Dufa embarked on a worldwide quest to find her lost soulmate. Jessica’s latest partner in crime is a body double who is an exact replica of herself, who she has taken on adventures including a 30 hour Amtrak train ride from New York to the Florida Keys.” Jessica’s characters are not created for a specific performance piece but rather are born organically. Hilda first appeared on stage as the MC for the performance piece, TheBest [Weinstein’s first performance with Anonymous Ensemble], in which she walked around the stage on stilts. Hilda has been living both on and off the stage for almost a decade.
Jessica’s current company reflects her creativity. Anonymous Ensemble describes themselves as “the intrepid pioneers of stage and screen.” They “manifest the extraordinary by refusing to be daunted by boundaries between genres, barriers between cultures, discrepancies in budgets or the limits of what is possible. […] When approaching a new project AnEn starts out with an insane premise: a narrative dance party, an opera imagined by a computer, a cinematic love affair with an audience, or a piece of children’s theatre that is actually cool!” Jessica explains that anything can happen in live spaces with real bodies [both the audience’s and artists’ bodies]. In Wanderlust, another piece by Anonymous Ensemble, the audience was moved through multiple spaces in a massive circus tent. Audience members played the non-speaking roles, which enables a distinctly different experience every time. Jessica describes a nervous energy when using non-actors that always adds a layer of excitement. Although it was scripted, the audience was intrinsically part of the narrative: “AnEn [always] creates audience-based work and considers the audience to be the co-creators of each event.”
With each new piece, Anonymous Ensemble continues to conceive structures that involve the audience and act as a platform for flexibility and spontaneity. In Liebe Love Amour!, the ensemble toys with the idea of how to create a “live film” and how to bring in the audience even more so than in the past. The ensemble combines the most magical aspects of film, the intimate gaze into someone’s soul, with the real time and space of the theatre. “AnEn accepts the pervasive power of the Screen in our current times but demands that the screen be transfigured by the unpredictable, the human, the never-to-be-repeated possibilities of the Stage.”
Although Jessica wasn’t with the company when the title was created, the title of the company always made sense to her in terms of their performance practice. When asked how the company came up with the name “Anonymous Ensemble,” Jessica explained the project always seemed more important than the “ensemble;” whatever project Anonymous Ensemble is doing is the focus rather than a manifestation or showcase of the company. She talked about the fact that the company is always changing; everyone who has been part of the ensemble at some point is and will always be part of the ensemble. The common thread between the projects that are seemingly so different is that there is always a quest. In Liebe Love Amour!, the audience goes on a quest for love with the insatiable Hilda. At the Wesleyan performance, the audience was seamlessly, lovingly, and humorously incorporated into the quest; the audience, as “co-creators of [the] event,” were so enveloped in the narrative that magical “Old Hollywood” notions of love seemed plausible.
We hope you enjoyed the performance Liebe Love Amour! on Saturday and will return to see Jessica in Lee Breuer’s Glass Guignol on February 16, 2013!
(Quotations are from Anonymous Ensemble’s website.)
Anonymous Ensemble: Liebe Love Amour!
New England Premiere
Saturday, September 22, 2012 at 8pm
$23 general public, $19 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty & staff, non-Wesleyan students, $6 Wesleyan students
“Behind all the frenetic and seemingly spontaneous activity is a very cleverly constructed ‘performance script,’ with the audience expertly managed to suit the show’s needs.” —Circus Sideshow Magazine
Liebe Love Amour! is a theatricalized “live film” of an epic search for love. In this latest work of interactive theater, Anonymous Ensemble creates Hollywood magic using cameras, a green-screen, live video processing software, and the opulent imagery of silent film director Erich von Stroheim. The show unveils a panoply of love affairs between Tall Hilda and a string of paramours including a fictionalized Erich von Stroheim, a devout Gloria Swanson, and the audience in the theater. Throughout the narrative, the audience is drawn into and onto the silver screen as their own stories become part of the fabric of the piece. The show is a tryst between cinema and live performance that invites the audience to voyeuristically participate in the artifice of cinema and the magic of theater simultaneously. With its lush, cinematic orchestration and rapid, real-time editing, Liebe Love Amour! spins layers of romance and reality as it reels towards its inevitable Hollywood finish.
Tickets are available online or by phone (860-685-3355) or in person at the Wesleyan University Box Office in the Usdan Center at 45 Wyllys Avenue.
To learn more about Anonymous Ensemble, click here:
And for Jessica Weinstein’s blog, click here: