It is quite nice to realize the arts underground may be larger than you think.
Mr. Glover’s slide show presentation at the Warhol Museum last night felt like something that might appear side by side with the weird Pittsburgh variety show scene that seems to be bubbling up these days: Darker Scratcher, anything Tree or Carlee or Jen Cooney do, and based on my experience with Mr. Todd Faltin and Gunner (on the Mr. God’s Galloping Mountain variety tour and beyond) the folks involved with the upcoming Forbidden Zone show would fall in that category as well—the category of performing artists that dabble in absurdity and take what they do seriously (or do they?).
That being said, Mr. Glover has been at this a lot longer than the people I know, and it shows. While “down to earth” might not be the most common descriptor for an absurdest (is he an absurdist? (at least he seems to dabble in absurdity)) he seems incredibly grounded. Like the rest of us, he works the best jobs he can get (the ones that pay well enough and don’t make us quite pull the trigger) in order to fund what he decided he cares about.
Last night, along with the slide show presentation, Glover screened It is Fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE. Which might be described as a kind of awkward horror porn. The lead actor and author of the piece, Steven C. Stewart, suffered from a relevantly severe case of cerebral palsy. Because of this fact the creation of the film, the story of the actors, and the background of the writer are as much a part of the viewing experience as the fictional characters and the plot. Which is why the Q&A session with Mr. Glover was so valuable.
At least partially because Mr. Glover does considers the Q&A session is an integral part of the film experience he only airs the film when he is present, and does not distribute it in any other fashion. This gives the film a more theatrical air, I think. As in: it is like a touring group of actors. Although they have only one real life representative and the lead has unfortunately passed away, the manner of its distribution makes the film feel more personal and gives its appearance in your home town a dramatic presence.
This is another concept I’m hearing more and more people experiment with as projection and film editing technology becomes increasingly cheap. Touring plays or puppet shows (or some combination) that integrate projected portions of the narrative. Actors may be on screen in the distance and live in the foreground.
This isn’t a new idea. Winsor McCay would perform with his animated film Gertie the Dinosaur in 1906. But it is a good idea and, as Mr. Glover proved yesterday, a form that is far from exhausted.
Keep thinking about it.