MIT Music And Theater Arts Presents A Crowdsourced Virtual Performance COLLISION SHOP

The production emerged in response to a call for intimate video self-portraits and is a meditation on the need for human connection and search for joy. 

By: Mar. 31, 2021
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MIT Music And Theater Arts Presents A Crowdsourced Virtual Performance COLLISION SHOP

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Music and Theater Arts (MTA) presents the Spring Theater Arts production of COLLISION SHOP - an online multimedia exhibit capturing the human beings on the planet right now. Brought to life by a diverse multidisciplinary team of students and professionals and facilitated by New York dance artist and MIT lecturer Dan Safer, the production emerged in response to a call for intimate video self-portraits and is a meditation on the need for human connection and search for joy.

The initial submission round is open thru April 15, with rolling submissions thereafter - for instructions, click here. The final show, scored and edited by the lead artists, will be available for viewing free-of-charge at, starting May 4, 2021. Live on-site projections to follow May 4-11, 2021 on MIT's campus (Cambridge, MA); The Invisible Dog (Brooklyn, NY); Art Lords Gallery (Kabul, Afghanistan); Art Spaces-Dance (Katowice, Poland) - with more venues to be announced.

An MIT Theater Arts Spring Production COLLISION SHOP is a globally-crowdsourced multidisciplinary online exhibit, open to performers and non-performers alike. Its goal is to bring joy to people by inviting them to both take part in it and watch it. This collaborative project is based on and driven by ideas contributed by a diverse 13-member group of MIT students from various fields (from artists through computer engineers and chemists to cognitive scientists) whose unique sensibility and understanding of the world brought a new perspective to this performance-based work. COLLISION SHOP emerged through a series of Zoom workshops in which the MIT team was joined by four attendees of The Norwegian Theater Academy and a renegade dancer from Poland who was under lockdown in London. The work was facilitated by dance artist and MIT lecturer Dan Safer, in collaboration with performer and storyteller Wil Petre and dramaturg Ogemdi Ude.

In March 2021, the collective sent out a set of audio instructions, asking people to document themselves performing an unconventional 6-minute performance. The voice on the recording encourages one to "show us what a CELEBRATION looks like," "find something very tiny," or simply "sit like a boss" - opening a possibility for the enjoyment of simple tasks. The resulting clips will be viewed side by side, allowing the audience to compare how different people interpreted the same instructions. Original scores by over 20 international composers, selected randomly for each playback, will ensure that the performance is never the same. Viewers will also be able to watch the clips in a "choose-your-own-adventure" style, selecting two or more videos and playing them simultaneously with the music score of their choice: for example, a clip by an amazing ballet dancer next to a 10-year-old child's, or a 60-year-old business executive in Dubai next to a college student in NYC, etc.

"As the pandemic destroyed the traditional ways of interaction and interpersonal communion, I began to ask myself: How do we make something that responds holistically to the moment we are in? To our current reality? This is when the concept of COLLISION SHOP was born. It had to be very different from a typical pre-pandemic work, extremely collaborative, open to the broadest possible group of participants and it had to play with and take advantage of the constraints imposed by the current state of affairs," says Dan Safer. "I brought this idea to the MIT students who have re-thought and re-imagined what a performance can be in response to the rapidly changing pandemic world. After fourteen months of isolation and displacement, everyone felt strongly that activating and connecting people makes more sense than doing another Zoom show. We wanted it to be funny and profound, spontaneous, accessible, and unpretentious but substantial. We open the virtual "stage" to those who rarely get to stand on it and this way, give the participants a reason to feel joy and connection. We invite them to reveal something personal and unique that will contribute to a broader understanding of where we are as people in this strange time," he further explains.

Jay Scheib, the head of MIT's Music And Theater Arts, adds: "Expanding the potential for performance, and for engagement with performance is at the center of what we do in the program for Theater Arts. This is why COLLISION SHOP fits perfectly the long and fascinating history of artistic practices we nurture at MIT. I also think that this self-scripted, self-reflecting, many-authored work meant to expand community is a great response to the world as we now experience it. The pandemic chased us all out of the room where the things were being made. We were all sent home. But this crisis also has laid bare the inequities that plague us. It is a perfect time to change, to transcend the business-as-usual, to think deeply about who we will be when we do return to those rooms-it's a time to look in and out. COLLISION SHOP found a loving and collaborative means of drawing the luminous energies from out our COVID-weary selves-out of the solitude and into the Possibilities of Joy, sculpting in sound and in dance the shimmering affirmation that, as the title says, People Can be F***ing Magical! Truly."


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