Dear Arts Worker:

rat meet:

an invitation

October 3-6, 2002

University of San Francisco, CA

Performances, Presentations, Workshops


Change the Space

Looking at where and how art happens

in response to the needs of justice

We struggle for space: political, artistic, architectural…

What do these spaces have in common?

Legal rights and dramatic freedoms, new stages and new staging grounds;

Good judging, good judgment, clear sight, sharp art;

Distribution, open dialogue, reformed dramaturgy…

How is progress mutual?

Global market culture pushes to outward conformity, while aggravating intrinsic inequities (surface sameness facilitating concentration of wealth and proliferation of atomized appetites). What challenges do we face, trying to wed the unique with the collective, the untranslatable with the collaborative? How does art go global without globalizing? In what productive ways can our experiments argue on behalf of one world/many voices, against one world/few pockets? How do we change the space around us, and the space we occupy?

If the crisis in the world is cultural, what is the counter-culture now? What is it countering and what is it choosing?


The Meet. Presenters Include:

Claudia Bernardi: Visual artist and member of the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team, on the recovery of historical memory

Edris Cooper-Anifowoshe: Director and actor, on the founding of a new theater and her theater’s role in community building

Roberto Varea: Director, teacher, on theater and protest/the people’s theater

Peter Novak: Director, teacher, on translation/working across cultures – case in point, sign language and Shakespeare

Yayuchkani: Performance group, Peru. See http://hemi.ps.tsoa.nyu.edu/cuaderno/yuyachkani/index.html

The Form:


Workshops, including collaborative creation of collaborative work led by Varea

Open sessions: opportunities to present work you bring/structure your own workshops and discussions

TImes: Thurs. evening, October 3, 2002, through Sun. afternoon, October 6

Free. Board provided; some free room available, first come-first served

Let us know you’re coming, what your housing/dietary needs may be. (All right to share a room? Private room in someone’s house/apt. okay? Couch okay? Any allergies?)

Share your thoughts on the agenda. Own this.


Erik Ehn

30 Via Barranca

Greenbrae, CA 94904



Peter Novak (USF)


Some Terms

From Philly notes, ’01

rat is an anarchic association of theater artists committed to sharing work and ways of working outside market and political conventions of growth.

We are anarchic: unregulated and unstructured, collecting no dues, electing no officers, convening arhythmically.

We are an association: communicating by all means, but most real in live encounters, believing that the performing arts are corporal mercies, caring for bodies in space through acts of hospitality.

We share work and ways of working: by requiring each other's labor and expertise, stepping past advertising and news. We cast each other, co-write, seize each other's resources, and make problems for/with each other.

We are outside the market on the theory that every use of a dollar represents a failure of hospitality. Money is morally neutral but imaginatively stunted; we promote barter and unmediated exchanges of goods and services. We look for alternatives to conventional script and organizational development believing that the myth of perfectible efficiency endorses stasis, thing-ness, and unjust concentrations of wealth.

"rat" because: every city has them; because build the new in the shell of the old; cunning; unlovely, ineradicable. Ana-acronymic: radical alternative theater, room and transportation, race against time… but actually, rat.

A rat meet is any size; any one can call one together; whoever comes, is (via Alternate Roots); whatever resources there are, as long as they are shared, are sufficient. Every effort is made to provide food and shelter. The meetings "happen" when bread is broken.

This is the Big Cheap Theater - mutual, tawdry, unstoppable, present, kenotic, grace-full, as much an ethical as an esthetic enterprise. We hold the right to fail, to scatter, to let go, to re-form improbably, to infiltrate, interdict, self-contradict, disavow the principles set down here, to make space when all space was thought collapsed, to make that space habitable by infusing a portable, repeatable sense of home: residence at tempo.

But a truly faithful manifesto has only one word, a "yes" to possibility in the resource of these companions.



See you in October.




Jack Bentz

Erik Ehn

Peter Novak

Roberto Varea