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DIY Quotes from DIY Folks: Read, Reading, Read

Pictured above: A capture from a performance by The Runaways/Photo: Attributed to the Runaways

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 for that’s coming to the DIY community in the near future with this week’s question:

“What performance/theater related material have you read recently that every DIY artist should be reading?”

The responses:

Ned Baker; Director/Co-Founder at Rabid Bat Theatricals, Artist, Educator, Wrestling Fan:

“I feel like everything I’ve been reading lately has been about politics or intimacy or Black Panther. Honestly, the biggest bump to my creativity lately wasn’t from reading something but by chatting with an acquaintance a few years old than me, who, like me, studied theatre and had recently started self-producing some quirky indie short films. He just gave me some good, empowering advice – so like here’s to buying your peers coffee in exchange for advice.”

Denise Yvette Serna; Creator, Director, Facilitator, Activist, co-founder of Global Hive Laboratories:

“”Horace and Morris Join the Chorus (but what about Dolores?)​” by James Howe – If I ever teach at a university, it will be required reading for all my students.
“Sister Outsider” by Audre Lorde​
​”Dario Fo: People’s Court Jester” ​by Tony Mitchell​
“Theatre of the Oppressed​” by Augusto Boal​”

Jo Schaffer; Runaways Lab Company Member:

“I feel like anyone who reads this will probably already have read this by now but Daniel H. Pink’s “A Whole New Mind: why right brainers will rule the future” changed my life when I came across it a few years back.”

Olivia Lilley; Creative Director at Pop Magic Productions, Artistic Director of The Prop Thtr, Writer, Director, Deviser:

“The book that made me want to make work in Chicago is called “A Theatre of Our Own.” It was written by a critic who used to be a mainstay in the community from the 60’s through to the early 90’s. It takes you through the whole history of Chicago theatre. It’s very exciting.

I’d also recommend any books about The Wooster Group. They are one of the premiere American collaborative ensembles. They’ve set a standard for companies creating devised or alternative work to the mainstream. You just have to know about them.

“The Empty Space” by Peter Brook is a classic. It breaks down theatre to its essentials and reminds us of the importance of dismantling the systems built before us in order to discover what theatre needs to be for our generation. Peter Brook defines theatre as either rough, holy or dead or a combination of. This book really helps you plunge forward into the unknown with hope. “

Kevin Sparrow; Literary Manager for Nothing Without a Company:

“Not everyone gets something meaningful out of reading, and I think the arts have a particularly “literate” bias (I say as someone is reading this). Maybe it’s more of a question of which models should everyone consider, and they can determine the best way to access those models (readings, videos, audio recordings, whatever media works). I think Twyla Tharp, Augusto Boal and Paulo Freire, Annie Sprinkle, and Adrian Piper are good starts. HowlRound is also a good resource for current conversations in theatre/performance, though not exclusively DIY focused.”


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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