CURATOR HEIDI VAN


Photo by Cameron Gee
I am an actor, creator and producer of experimental live theatre. My work is movement-based, sparse in text, and set to original, live music. I’ve staged most of my recent shows in the storefront window of an alternative performance venue I opened to the public in the Crossroads Arts District. Here, my actors and musicians perform for a very live audienceMy studio is the Fishtank, now in its fourth year. In a way, the Fishtank is my “meta-production,” itself a piece of theater that I’ve “staged” as a unique venue for experimental work. Inside, it’s a 50-seat black-box theatre, but the storefront window provides a stage with unlimited viewing capacity. 


I created the Fishtank to provide creators of new work a space where we can collaborate. Material performed at the Fishtank is untried, its content progressive, its writers and performers committed to aesthetic risk-taking. As producer, I’ve had many different relationships with artists staging new work there. Presenting fresh material keeps the space activated, and we’re building local audiences for challenging artwork.

Photo by Cameron Gee

In my own pieces, I’m interested in how performance transcends words, using movement, visual elements, music and humor to convey deep content. I work with dancers, actors, musicians and designers to create magical, revelatory effects where physical theater replaces verbal content: audience response provides depth and complexity. Moving into the storefront window enforces this “no talking” rule, but I also break the fourth (glass) wall, by putting the musicians out there with the audience, and actors also use the sidewalk as a performance area. When they (or “we” — I perform myself, too) are inside the window, the “fishtank” effect really works: a tableau removed from the audience, yet exposed in a very public way.

This plays a big part in my artwork and in the pieces I produce. I’m challenging the inside/outside contradiction in performance, toying with what brings people in, how theater goes out to meet its public, and creating a new awareness about how we perform and view performance.