I am a multidisciplinary artist and writer living in Southwest Philadelphia. I make projects that serve as experiments in utopia—ephemeral moments and worlds that allow us to experience alternative ways of being, interacting, and producing culture. In making these things, I tend to tromp around in the multi-layered Venn diagram where social practice, community spectacle, clown, and American musical theater overlap. 

 

Plays are usually my medium of choice, since at their best they highlight the unique power of physically gathering together, and the magic of submitting to the power of imagination. They also offer unbeatable views of vulnerability, unpredictability, and ephemeral moments whose marks on us are permanent. They also require prolonged collaboration, which is itself a practice in world-building. 


I'm particularly interested in what I've started to call "the Möbius strip of playing pretend." Among other things, my work proposes that if we play pretend at something  fully and immersively enough, it turns out we're actually doing it. But as happens with Möbius strips, we do eventually round the curve and realize we're back on the same side where we began: just playing pretend. And yet, if we keep going, we'll once again be actually doing it. And on, and on. (If this seems confusing or nonsensical, visit the My Pizza, My Idea! page or the Less Miserable page for "clarity.")
 

In a world where technology is so ubiquitous as to become invisible, I treasure the high-magic-but-low-tech, the analog, and the painstakingly handmade.

 

In a society where the loss of personal connection is often lamented, where multitasking is a given and our relationships are so often mediated by technological devices, my work serves as an opportunity to acknowledge each other’s physical presence and the effects we have on each other. It brings people together in a room, or a field, or any other gathering place and offers the time and space for being together, unabashedly breathing and aware of each other’s liveness.

 

I’ve been honored to show my work at Ars Nova in NYC, the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, the Ontological-Hysteric Theater in NYC, FringeArts in Philadelphia, The Baltimore Theater Project, Bread & Puppet Theater, The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, and Bedlam Theatre and In The Heart of the Beast Theater in Minneapolis. I’ve been just as honored to perform more often in less-likely places like squats, post offices, grocery stores, intentional communities, info-shops, activist camps, farms, and community centers around the world.

My work has been supported by the likes of the Leeway Foundation, the Puffin Foundation, Meow Wolf, and residencies at MacDowell and the Cornell University Soil Factory.

 

TL,DR: Blahblahblah -

 

In 2005, I co-founded The Missoula Oblongata, a touring punk rock theatre company, with whom I wrote, designed, built, and performed plays for seven years. That company has since dissolved, and I’ve continued to create my own work, participate in others’ work, and develop new collaborations since then.

 

In 2007, I moved to Baltimore to join up with some old friends as a part of the internationally recognized artists collective, Wham City. My interactive play-in-a-box-for-an-audience-of-no-one, One Pair was included in the Wham City Box Set, which was released at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Wham City’s They Should All Be Destroyed (A Jurassic Park Play), which I directed, was cited by Rolling Stone as one of the reasons Baltimore had the “Best Scene in the Country” that year (2008?) and toured the East Coast twice to sold out houses. That same year, Baltimore’s City Paper called DIY Theatre the city’s “Best Trend”, saying: “[Baltimore’s DIY theater scene] is perhaps best exemplified by overlapping theater factions of Wham City…and Missoula Oblongata…the productions are big, bold, and unendingly impressive.”

 

In 2010 I received my MFA in Theater Arts from Towson University. Good job, me.

 

In 2013 I moved to Philadelphia because a building owner offered me free space to make theater for a year. Living in Philly suited me alright, so I stayed and helped found the Panorama Artists Collective– a collectively run studio/rehearsal/performance space in Southwest Philadelphia. That’s where I currently make work out of.

 

I have led performance workshops at Southern Illinois University, Hampshire College, the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, Dartmouth College, Evergreen State College, and lots of other places that escape me as I type this.

 

I’m committed to theatre as a vital and populist medium.

 

Donna Oblongata
Photo: Rachel Wisniewski

"A visionary with a knack for creating experiences that transcend the norm."  -Geekadelphia

It kind of feels weird to ask people to throw me money to support my work. But we live under global capitalism, so literally everything feels weird!

 

Until artists in the US are paid regular salaries for their work, you can: