Pulling Back the Curtain on my Performance Art

Peterson Toscano at MicWhenever someone asks me to describe my performance work, I often fail at explaining it. It’s like having to explain a joke to someone. The whole thing can flatten out. What helps is when I instead detail my aims and influences. Then hopefully they will see the work for themselves, and it will make sense to them.

This week HowlRound, a free and open on-line platform for theatre makers, published my article, Queer Climate Performance Art in the Most Unlikely Places. In addition to recreating for the page my performance piece, Everything is Connected, I reveal sources of inspiration and some of my objectives in the piece.

The solo stage work of Whoopi Goldberg, John Leguizamo, and Lily Tomlin taught me marginalized people can use comic storytelling and character acting to communicate personal and political messages. These comic actors shape-shifted and embodied multiple personalities as they developed immediate and intimate relationships with their audiences. Unlike a traditional play with multiple actors interacting while the audience observes, the one-person comedy turns the audience into a character. We speak directly to them, casting them in roles.

–snip–

I seek to use my skills as a playwright and actor to take on LGBTQ issues, justice, privilege, and climate change while revealing the interconnectedness of these issues. I also throw in a Bible story. Within these different frames, I repeat core concepts knowing audience members will begin to see patterns emerge. In first performing my own very personal story, then an ancient Bible story, and finally the unfolding global story of climate change, I lead them to a synthesis of abstract ideas as outlined in Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning.

Special thanks to Chantal Bilodeau for inviting me to write the piece and to JD Stokely at Emerson College office of the Arts for assistance with editing.

Read the entire article including the description of the Three Acts in Everything is Connected: Queer Climate Performance Art in the Most Unlikely Places

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