With his one-man multimedia spectacle "Wow and Flutter," performer Andrew Schneider is slated to transform Wish Theater tomorrow night.
Schneider comes to Bowdoin at the invitation of Associate Professor of Theater and Dance Roger Bechtel, his longtime friend and collaborator. Bechtal said that the performance will span the disciplines of theater, dance, multimedia, visual design, narrative form, psychology and even physics.
At Bechtel's inquiry, Schneider agreed to perform his recent piece "Wow and Flutter" in addition to teaching a master class to Bowdoin, Bates and Colby faculty and a select number of students.
Schneider's visit is part of a Mellon grant collaboration between Bowdoin, Bates and Colby dedicated to a year-long exploration of digital media in live performance. This intercollegiate study will culminate in a performance festival next fall.
Schneider's interest in digital media as an aspect of live performance began when he was a budding actor spending more time doing regional gigs outside New York City than in it.
"[I] loved being on stage, but after like the fifth time doing Little Shop of Horrors I thought, 'These aren't the stories I want to tell,'" said Schneider.
The stories Schneider wanted to tell had to do with the direction that technology was taking contemporary culture. He was leery of technology and wondered whether it was improving or detracting from human conversation.
He felt that the only way to answer such questions was to "jump in," and the artist enrolled in the NYU school of Interactive Telecommunications where he took both practical and theory classes. Schneider became less cautious about the use of technology as he grew to understand it more.
That is not to say that he had completely lost his skepticism; rather, he realized that technology itself could be the greatest tool in determining both technology's possibilities and its limitations. He has most recently worked as videographer for The Wooster Group, an esteemed ensemble of artists based in New York City.
According to Bechtel, Schneider is equally talented in performing arts and media technology, an his performances achieve an "emotional and intellectual power" rarely accomplished by solo performers.
"I don't think I have a style," said Schneider.
As the output of a flexible and thought-provoking artist, Schneider's work runs the gamut from somber to satirical.
Schneider's creation of a "solar bikini" capable of keeping your iPod charged while at the beach caught the attention of Miss Vermont who wanted to present herself as the "green candidate."
Bechtel added, chuckling, that her request to wear the solar bikini in the competition was denied on the grounds that it would accord her an "unfair advantage."
Unlike his satirical swimwear, "Wow and Flutter" contains not a trace of satire.
The piece derives its title from technical terms for variation in auto-recording playback, and is loosely inspired by a David Foster Wallace short story.
Examining the themes of multiplicity of identity and citizens as performers in society, the piece makes extensive use of digital media to allow Schneider to literally multiply himself.
It's about "performing rather than living our lives, [fraudulent identity], masculinity, achievement oriented success...it keeps the audience on their toes," said Schneider.
In a story featuring a cast of one—Schneider—video is a means of time travel. His performance promises to be a formidable example to which the study of digital media in theater and dance at Bowdoin can aspire.
"Wow and Flutter" will be performed tomorrow night at 7 p.m. in Wish Theater, Memorial Hall. Tickets will be available at the box office at 6:30 p.m.