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DIY Quotes from DIY Folks: Spaces and Boundaries

Pictured above: Mari DeOleo/Photo provided by Mari DeOleo

Every other week we ask DIY theater artists and creatives around Chicago a question about what’s going on in the DIY theater and performance community.

The world of DIY theater and performance is constantly changing, evolving, ebbing and flowing. Learn about what theater and performance artists are excited about in what’s coming to the DIY community in the near future. In this week’s rendition we features three questions and three artists.

“How do you think DIY oriented work can do more to challenge dominant and oppressive systems? How can DIY artists and venues do more to provide and make accessible spaces?”

The response:

Ricardo Gamboa; Creator of “BRUJOS,” “HOODOISIE” and “MEET JUAN(ITO) DOE” and Company Member of Free Street Theater:

“I think anything that occurs outside normative spaces is automatically a proposing an alternative. And that’s important. We know that our dominant structures (and structures of dominance) are failing and built on inequities that they must perpetuate in order to self-reproduce. So, I think it’s important when we sit down to make DIY work to really think about the world we’re trying to create, that world in the future, and model our theater/performance-making processes after that, make sure our content embodies that, and that our distribution reflects that as well. For example, if we want to create work that changes the world, why is our work so often holed up in artists spaces and lofts, instead of, you know, out in the world? I also think this requires we think and discuss our work differently, in a new vocabulary—one that is a departure from how things are thought and discussed of differently. And all this fundamentally requires we desire or want differently—that we don’t just aspire to recognition and success as those things are currently defined right now.”

“How are artists and creators treated differently in DIY theater and performance spaces?”

The response:

Chris Roe; DIY Producer and Performer at Sexy Dirt Productions:

“The world is your oyster. I give you a blank space and you show me what you can you create out of that. How do we think outside the proverbial box? I think DIY theater and performance spaces give artists the ability to create even harder. I also think that they’re given more freedom, despite parameters they have to comply with (laws, sound, fire code). And I think that’s super encouraging. I’ve done a lot of fringe festivals, and within that setting, they assume you’re going to perform under time and budget constraints. There’s also a sense of community with the other artists you’re creating with. You’re given more responsibility to take on roles you traditionally would not have.”

“How do you test conventional limits and boundaries of performance?”

The response:

Mari DeOleo; Story and Experience Creator, Creator of PlayLab Productions:

“I test the limits and boundaries by creating solo, short, street or low budget performances and finding an audience. These projects usually only involve one to two actors and are very experimental. I tend to be one of the performers, because I’m always willing to take the lead. This type of work can be very scary for some. I also have a small troupe of performers that I create for and with them, I can test out performances and concepts. We talk about the goals we want to reach, then we create the piece, practice, perform and discuss the results. This may lead to a full production or more testing.”


Are you a DIY theater artist who likes to answer questions about the work you’re doing in Chicago? Email with your interest to be featured on a DIY Quotes from DIY Folx.

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