March 26, 2015

‘DIY’ theater workshops on campus next week

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- If, as Shakespeare famously asserted, life is a stage, then your closet can be a theater wardrobe and your workbench ready for set design. Putting it another way, “Our Theatre Company Could Be Your Life” can be more than just a title for those who attend Donna Oblongata’s workshops at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. 

The Department of Communication Studies welcomes Oblongata for a week’s residency, Monday through Friday, March 30 to April 3. She will lead workshops, describe her performance philosophy and the history of her work, and finally, help the workshop participants present a performance created (written, designed, built and performed) wholly within the week-long residency. 

Oblongata is a proponent of DIY culture and theater -- Do It Yourself. In her theater, costumes are not so much made as found, and stage technology (lights, special effects) may rely on innovation rather than standard-issue theater hardware. 

That’s not to say it’s “catch as catch can.”  Oblongata has experience with this brand of punk-rock style-theater. She co-founded Missoula Oblongata, a touring DIY theater group, and later launched Der Vorführeffeckt Theatre, a group noted for its production of “Less Miserable,” a full-scale, unsanctioned production of the musical “Les Miserables.” 

Oblongata describes herself as “almost exclusively interested in live forms (of art),” “dedicated to ephemera,” and “mostly interested in working with folks without traditional acting training.” 

The first workshop is from 7 to 10 p.m. on March 30, with additional workshops set for the same time on March 31 and April 2, and other times to be set by workshop participants. Oblongata will deliver an artist’s talk on April 1 at 8 p.m. in Kleinau Theater in the Communications Building. The student performance is April 3 at 8 p.m. and is free of charge.