Supporting creative work by women
Last year, Works by Women profiled director Kathleen Amshoff and the piece she directed at Women Center Stage, Swell. Now she is co-producing a performance party, Hi-Lo, at JACK in Clinton Hill (Brooklyn), on Monday, March 18th.
Works by Women interviewed Kathleen Amshoff about this happening — with performances by music maker Xenia Rubinos, downtown doyenne Eliza Bent, Southern gothic playwright Jason Williamson, Haitian-American comedy writer France-Luce Benson, choreographer Eija Ranta, vocalist Antwayn Hopper, composer Michael Kooman and experimental video artist Peter Burr — and her plans for it.
WORKS BY WOMEN: What was the genesis of Hi-Lo?
KATHLEEN AMSHOFF: The work I make as a director often falls under ‘experimental’, but I went to grad school at Carnegie Mellon, which has a traditional focus on musical theater, TV and other commercial forms. I’ve always had my feet in both worlds and there’s astounding virtuosity in each of them. NYC theater often feels so insular, and then within the city we end up in these little aesthetic pods because of the needs of marketing, audience development and venues. The idea of HI-LO is to unghettoize both artists and audiences in an environment that feels playful, open and curious. I asked musical theater writer Chris Dimond to co-host and curate with me so that we could have a balance…and because we really enjoy mocking each other’s taste.
WBW: What is a ‘performance party’ and how does it differ from other events? Or what is your desire for it?
KATHLEEN: It’s a party! People watch work and drink and socialize. HI-LO is a friendly atmosphere for both viewer and performer. When I first started working with Big Art Group, we developed material for a show through parties at Glasslands. I found the parties so fun and useful. And I’ve always loved the community-building at CATCH. Framing HI-LO as party allows us to watch genres and styles smack up against each other in an inclusive, celebratory format. It’s loose. And we’ve got a really incredible band rounding us out this time — Xenia Rubinos — whose album Magic Trix is coming out on Ba Da Bing this spring.
WBW: Hi-Lo is at JACK in Clinton Hill in Brooklyn. What excites you about holding Hi-Lo in Brooklyn at JACK?
KATHLEEN: JACK is a new venue and it’s beautiful! Most of us have worked in some pretty crusty spaces and JACK is well cared for by a committed crew headed by Alec Duffy. This crew is programming really eclectic, interesting stuff. If you go every night for a week you can see a new production, a reading of a French play, experimental jazz, horror drag, more. JACK is the NYC venue that excites me the most right now. And Clinton Hill — sigh — who doesn’t love this neighborhood?
WBW: What are your plans for future Hi-Lo events?
KATHLEEN: We have a list of directors, writers, composers, performance artists, choreographers and vocalists we want to invite, and we’re interested in submissions too. Ideally we’ll develop a curatorial committee so we can represent the diversity of performance in New York. For now, we hope people will come to the first HI-LO and propose pieces for the second and third. Maybe dissimilar artists will meet here and like each other, even collaborate! And we as viewers can remember that some of that stuff we rejected long ago really can be great.
Doors for Hi-Lo open March 18th at 8:00 pm. Showtime is 8:30 pm. Jack is located at 505 1/2 Waverly Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11238 Between Fulton and Atlantic in Clinton Hill (C or G train to Clinton-Washington).
Admission: Tickets to HI-LO are $10 and can be reserved by emailing email@example.com.