The Barnes Foundation

Barnes Jawn(t), August 2018. Images courtesy of the Obvious Agency.

Barnes Jawn(t), August 2018. Images courtesy of the Obvious Agency.

In 2018 and 2019 I skirted the line between curating and performing (curforming?) at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. In August 2018 I worked with a group called the Obvious Agency to create interactive tours of the Barnes Collection called Barnes Jawn(t)s (“jawn(t)” being another portmanteau of the Philadelphian pronoun “jawn” and the standard English verb “jaunt”). In these Jawn(t)s I led small groups through the Collection’s galleries, where we created dialogues based on the art and examined incidental art objects like thermostats and exit signs. We looked at each gallery’s contents through many imagined lenses: that of the artists who’d made the art, that of Dr. Albert Barnes who’d assembled the collection and curated each gallery, and that of ourselves as viewers and the way we interpret the intentions of both creators and curators.

In May of 2019 I created “P is for Picture Theatre” inspired by  storytelling art objects in the Barnes Collection, including hieroglyphic tablets from Egypt, painted urns from Greece, and carved wooden headboards from Madagascar.For this event shadow artists Dirk Joseph and Erik Ruin presented a pair of scrolling crankies, polka musician Dan Nosheny sang a German Schnitzelbank, the Bread & Puppet Theater performed a cantastoria created for anti-war demonstrations, and I made a kamishibai-style history of picture theatre traditions to put the whole event into context. (See my own essay about picture performance here.)

Dis/ability Ethnography

Logo for Argentina's green cane law, which designates people with low vision.

Logo for Argentina's green cane law, which designates people with low vision.

Dis/ability performance and notions of dis/ability “passing” moved to the forefront of my work in 2014. I make performances that investigate that line between "dis" and "abled" by asking performers and audiences to cross it in various directions. In Nobody's Home (2013) the audience spends about a third of the show with their eyes closed. In Alchemy (2014) certain performers have limited use of eyes, hands, mouth, or body altogether, and audiences wrestled with assumptions and prejudices around that. I performed my solo memoir Cones (2015) blindfolded and the audience also engaged part of the show doing certain things with eyes closed. And since playing the blind prophet Tiresias in Antigone (2016) I've been typecast as a visually-impaired actor in preference to fully-sighted actors assuming the roles of low-vision characters.

Alongside this work has a been a blog called Rods & Cones about the spectrum of vision and blindness in art, media, science and culture. I have also taught classes on the subject at Cornell University, Goddard College, the University of Pennsylvania, Bryn Mawr College, and through the Headlong Performance Institute.

Above: Sighted actors perform blind characters in The Miracle Worker (1962), The Tale of Zatochi (1962), O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), Daredevil (2015), Star Wars: Rogue One (2016), and the video for Lionel Ritchie's song "Hello" (1984). Whether products of biography, fiction, or fantasy, all these blind characters are depicted as having extraordinary powers

Asana

Morgan Cobra.jpg

I teach community yoga classes that emphasize an inquisitive approach to breath, anatomy and alignment. I use yoga as a way to unpack ideas in art, science and politics, and relate that to a process of personal transformation and social justice. My classes invite dialogue and often raise funds for activist organizations.

Early morning classes: Tues/Thurs, 7AM

Advancing Asana (workshop-style classes):
6PM Wednesdays and 10AM Sundays

More info at Studio 34 Yoga.

Theatre Pedagogy

2014 community workshop in Philadelphia

2014 community workshop in Philadelphia

Silent reel of Philadelphia Theatre of the Oppressed workshops led by Hariprasad Kowtha, Paloma Irizarry, and Morgan FitzPatrick Andrews. Filmed and edited by Natasha Cohen-Carroll and Gabriel Dattatreyan.

For the past decade I've taught using the methodologies of Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed (PTO). PTO uses images, sounds, movements and words equally, acknowledging that all are expressed as forms of language in society. PTO's ultimate goal is the dismantling of oppressive dynamics, and each session I facilitate keeps that in the context of what the group can achieve in an a single day, week, month, or semester.

I've run PTO currcula for education programs at Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges, Cabrini University, The College of New Jersey, and Tyler College of Art; for Masters of Social Work students and faculty from Drexel and Widener Universities; in dis/ability studies at Cornell and Temple Universities, and for theatre, dance, and writing classes at UPenn and the University of the Arts.

Performative Lecture

"The Frankenstein of Everyday Life" performative lecture at the Black Sheep Festival, Pittsburgh, 2006

"The Frankenstein of Everyday Life" performative lecture at the Black Sheep Festival, Pittsburgh, 2006

"The Moon and Our Future" performative lecture at Rutherfurd Hall, 2012

"The Moon and Our Future" performative lecture at Rutherfurd Hall, 2012

"Medium Manifesto" performative lecture at for the Alternative Media Confernce, Goddard College, 2013

"Medium Manifesto" performative lecture at for the Alternative Media Confernce, Goddard College, 2013

Performative lectures predate the ages of information and industrialization, harkening back to times when people needed to step outside to hear someone talk about science or history. I use performative objects—pictures, masks, contraptions and household items from everyday life—as conveyances for ideas, often inviting audience members to step into the process. Because of their interdisciplinary and interactive nature, the performative lecture can happen at the theater, on the street, and even in a conventional lecture hall.

Also see Picture Performance: A History