Our latest “Centerfield” column posted today on Art:21 blog…make sure to check it out! Caroline Picard interviews Matthew Goulish, co-founder of the collaborative performance group Every house has a door. A brief excerpt follows; go to Art:21 to read the piece in full!
This June, I saw a performance by Every house has a door, a collaborative group founded by Lin Hixson and Matthew Goulish in 2008 to “create project-specific collaborative performances with invited guests.” Having seen the piece in its intended context I want to ask questions outside its bounds. I appear like a kind of critic—a person asking the artist for something outside the presentation of a complete work. They’re Mending the Great Forest Highway is a dance for three men (Matthew Goulish, Jeff Harms, John Rich), with a DJ (Charissa Tolentino) and a narrator (Hannah Geil-Neufeld). It took place in the second floor gymnasium at Holstein Park in Chicago. Participants enacted a score of movement and sound presenting thematic elements from Hungarian folksongs, the tritone, and Benny Goodman. I wanted to ask about crisis, the framework of the theater, and the vocabulary of gestures—oblique responses to dance. Perhaps by asking them, perhaps through Goulish’s response, you might catch a ghost of the dance, left behind and buzzing in those summer-hot gymnasium walls.
Caroline Picard: How do you conceptualize the context for performance—do you frame it within traditional theater? How does time function within that context?
Matthew Goulish: Yes, theater as the container – less a set of conventions than of structures. Into it we place, let’s say, dance, writing, and music. We keep those elements distinct for clarity. Theater allows their coherent composition in time, the way the parts fit together. What happens first, second, last? What happens where? What echoes, and when? We have a sense of the parts in themselves (dance, music, writing), and another sense of the parts in relation as a cumulative experience (theater).
Can we call any room a theater if it contains theatrical events? What if we set up chairs in the afternoon at one end of a gymnasium that has windows and skylights? A little room noise might help the performance in unexpected ways. If we begin a 60-minute performance on June 18th at 2:00 PM, where will the sun be in the skylight when we end? (Read more).