by Wanda Lough
Frank Wo/Men Collective has a new show coming up for 1 weekend only, Tiskettasket. If you are not familiar with Frank Wo/Men Collective [FWMC], TL:DR they are an absurdly funny physical theatre company and it’s a must see for art enthusiasts.
Tiskettasket is a vignette style performance about food. It’s the raw, YOLO physical theatre experience mashed up with audience participation. We know each audience member will receive a basket of food upon entering and can participate in the scenes if they feel the impulse to.
HUMAN INFLUENCE sat down with Kelsey Oliver (Co-Director and Performer in Tiskettasket) for some cold brew coffee and she spilled the beans on their creative process and some behind the scenes details.
Who is in the Frank Wo_Men Collective?
Oliver told me in our conversation that Frank Wo_Men Collective (FWMC) is a revolving company of multidisciplinary performers, but specifically Tiskettasket will be exercising one opera singer, one comedian, four dancers, sugar-free lighting, organic improv, some film work, live music, and unprocessed interactive theater. It started from a seed, she said - “How could we get the audience to throw food at us?” - and grew into a more artistically, challenging idea: “How interactive can we be while the audience is still in their seats?"
Since FWMC lacks resources, mainly money, the company must rehearse within a few times - then showtime! Tiskettasket formed from a purely collaborative process. According to Oliver, everyone works well under this pressure because they feel supported by this collaboration structure.
Oliver said the artistic directors called each performers interested in the idea and asked them "'What excites you the most about this show? What do you want to see?'". From there, they experimented with the ingredients. They exercise some structure as far creating a spine of prompts for the performers to digest. But when they come together, they go with what makes them laugh and ponder the most.
HI: What distinguishes Frank Wo_Men Collective’s body of work compared to other theatre groups?
Oliver: The Franks find much assemblage through our shared interest in quick-witted humor, unpredictability, and ridiculousness. There is a strong undercurrent of comedic impulse to our work that is founded upon mutual respect and the act of questioning. We find connectivity through shared laughter and the ability to develop an idea to jubilation through the compiling layers of running with each others’ whims.
Minimalism vs Maximalism
In specific terms, the collaborative process offers a maximalism style as opposed to a minimalist one, a point that Oliver noted. You can find similar uses of the contrast in the books of post-modern authors like David Foster Wallace and Thomas Pynchon and Kurt Vonnegut and Richard Brautigan, whose DIGRESSIONs, EXCEssIVE DEsCRIPTIONs, redundancy overkill, add excess on top of excess usually in an ostentatious manner; simply, the art is in the DETAILs.
Oliver believes a maximalism style offers a lot of access points for the audience. Access points meaning, many ways to enter a scene and get meaning behind the movement. And one person’s perspective will be entirely different than the person next to them. This style allows the characters to have a strange, candid self awareness about the audience. Yet, never dissolve the boundary that it is a show.
Tiskettasket: an interactive physical theater show centered around multi-purposing
food. In a series of overlapping vignettes, this performance channels absurdity in many forms,
allowing the audience to engage head-deep in fruitful, full-bodied episodes of goof.
WHEN: July 28-30 at 8pm
WHERE: 4902 Gladeview Dr., Austin, TX
Wanda Lough: Autodidactic. Reads a lot. New to Austin area. From New Jersey and Arizona. No college degree. Art enthusiast and a professional admirer. Favorite album of 2016 was Wildflower.