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In Action at a Distance, the actors take various roles in six different short ‘plays’ as they ‘pivot’ from one play to the next mid stream, and at different times from one another.  Each actor must imagine the actions and speech of the imaginary characters with whom their own character is interacting in whichever play they happen to be in at the time.  Simultaneously, each actor must NOT show awareness of those actors who are NOT in the same play as they are in at the moment, and who are likewise pivoting from one play to the next. Sometimes, actors are in the same play at the same time; most of the time they are not. 


With this interplay of plays, we create – utilizing techniques originated by Fay and Glassman – a composition drawn from the six simultaneous plays, by altering the timing of movements, the dynamics of speech, the direction of motion, the actions, the acting – any of the possible variables. The audience can see through the six plays, into the composite play that is Action at a Distance.


Lisa Fay and Jeff Glassman are composing and performing movement-based theatre artists working professionally since the ‘80s and ‘70s respectively and together since 1991, who apply complex composed structures to ordinary daily human behavior. Notated graphic scores often accompany their movement productions. In their collaborative work for theatre ‘natural-looking’ behavior is subjected to contortions, subversions and convolutions, letting ‘naturalism’ show its socially constructed face. One of their interests is to lay new ground for composing form in theatre in a way that makes ‘theatre composition’ closely analogous to music composition.


Together or individually, Lisa Fay and Jeff Glassman have originated and performed movement-based theatre work in tours across the US, in Eastern and Western Europe, Mexico, Cuba and South Korea, in large and small theatres, colleges, cultural centers, and national and international mime and theatre festivals in the US and abroad, including Theater Grottesco's ‘Eventua’ festival of experimental theatre, Santa Fe NM (2013). They performed together at the D.Festa international Deahangno Korea Small Theatre Festival (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015) in Artist Residencies, performances and tours for D.Festa, Korea Small Theatre Association, and Arts Council Korea and also often at the Haja Center, in Seoul, South Korea. Together, in the early 1990’s they convened the Experimental Performance Laboratory at the White Street Arts Center, Urbana, IL that would later become the foundation for their workshop and residency work. As working artists they have served the Illinois Arts Council and the Alliance for Cultural Democracy (ACD). They have received grant support from New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA), USArtists International, Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation (MAAF), Network of Ensemble Theaters (NET), National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the Illinois Arts Council (IAC) and City of Urbana Public Arts Program.


Fay teaches devising for theatre and has taught composition and improvisation at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign where she holds a faculty appointment and also directs and coordinates the INNER VOICES Social Issues Theatre program and ensemble, a vibrant ensemble of young practicing artists who work to generate the changes they wish to see. Committed to working locally as well as nationally and internationally, most recently Fay was a selected artist for an NEA OurTown award through the City of Urbana. Glassman often teaches experimentation in theatre at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA.

Currently Fay and Glassman are resident artists at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in a creative residency for the development of a new full-length work "Folding Time." 

Action at a Distance

Action at a Distance

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