Curator's Note: She She Pop & Their Fathers Jan 23, 2013

by Lane Czaplinski

She She Pop and Their Fathers: a performance ensemble from Berlin performing with their actual fathers. When I first heard about this project, my first thought was how could this possibly work? I mean, will the fathers get the whole art/theater/performance thing? And even if they do will they go along with it?

I was pondering these questions as I sat down to write this note when an artist contacted me about meeting my father. She’s producing a play in my hometown of Kansas City and wants to meet people who will provide local color and context. Ok, I’ll set you up with George Czaplinski, I replied, but also told her to remember that she asked for the opportunity and that I am not responsible for anything that happens. Local color? Yeah, George will give you some local color and then some.

I remember feeling embarrassed growing up when my dad went outside in his underwear to get the paper or when he put lawn sprinklers on the roof around the fourth of July to keep the house from burning down from fireworks or when he purchased mega quantities of poison to kill the squirrels in his yard and ended up eradicating many species of woodland creatures in the greater Kansas City metro area. The thought of my dad on stage in a highfalutin Lear terrifies me. What would he say and do? And what would that mean for me?

From King Lear to Willy Loman to Archie Bunker to Bill Cosby to Homer Simpson, the depiction of intense – if not maniacal – fathers is a constant in art and culture. They are a perfect device for drama. In most cases, we love dads, and if not, then that’s all the better for the sake of generating conflict. Plus, they’re generally portrayed as older, and as such, closer to death, which is the ultimate in tension making. Mothers have all of these same characteristics but as women are generally more elegant and smarter than men, making them somehow less tragic.

The fathers of She She Pop aren’t dramatic devices, though. Here they are with their own offspring considering the minutia of everyday as they portray the differences that exist between generations and life stages. The ensemble doesn’t propose to provide answers to such large ideas, but rather, they ask the questions and depict on stage the struggle to answer them.

This ensemble of performers feels like old friends even though this is their first visit to North America and we’re proud to welcome them to Seattle – one of only two stops in the US. Welcome.