Faculty, MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts
Residency Site: Port Townsend WA
Bonnie Schock has been involved in the Twin Cities artistic community as a stage director, producer, educator and arts administrator since 1995. She served as artistic producing director from 1999-2004 for 3 Legged Race (3LR), an organization dedicated to acceleration of invention in new performance. During her tenure, 3LR was named “Best Theater for New Work 2002“ by City Pages, and recognized by the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune for “Outstanding Experimental Theater Work.” As a theater director, she has directed more than 40 productions for such organizations as 3LR, the Minnesota Centennial Showboat, The Playwrights’ Center, Prague International Fringe Festival, Theater in the Round, University Theater, Washington Shakespeare Festival, Phipps Center for the Arts, History Theater and as assistant director at the Guthrie Theater and Children’s Theater Company. Her research lies at the intersection of production and arts practice, where she works toward building holistic, sustainable systems to foster creative dialogue(s), reimagining art and artists as vital forces for change in society.
MFA, Stage Directing, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
BA, Performance and English, Evergreen State College
I have been occupied with the creation of images and the birth of performances for the past 20 years. My work can be characterized in a variety of ways – I alternately call myself director, producer, educator, administrator, observer, collaborator, facilitator, leader. But they are all intertwined and the limits imposed by such categories are frustrating; ultimately, no one label makes sense for long.
My formal educational background is in the traditional theater (where I spent many years believing I wanted to work my way up in the regional theater system to become one of the rare female artistic directors). Even as I pursued a ‘career’ in time-based theater, I was always strangely drawn to static imagery. I took photographs compulsively in college. I believe this avocation helped me see the stage in a kind of storyboard format, and I strive to use the compositional integrity of static images to shape both theme and narrative.
While completing my MFA in stage directing, I concentrated heavily on the heightened language of Shakespeare and had the privilege to observe and work with Michael Langham. During this time I found inspiration in the epic, mythic, larger than life stories of Shakespeare, Racine, Euripides, Webster – where the human struggle was exaggerated, stylization and theatricality were inherent to the structure of the work, and where images could be boldly drawn. It is through my investigations of Shakespeare that I began to develop an enthusiasm for layering and contradictions among the visual, textual and performative elements of a single production, always in a search to understand the contradictions in our relationships.
Perhaps because of the nature of “directing”, as a creator, I thrive on collaboration. All of my work has been built in close partnership with others. I find it impossible to claim anything I have done as entirely my own and I mistrust the very notion of singular authority. My greatest creative energy comes when there are many voices contributing, and I am at my best when I am able to forge these often diverse practices into a cooperative vision.
My current passion lies in the changing nature of contemporary performance, where I apply both my facilitative skills and the crafts of traditional theater to performative experiments. I believe in beginnings, middles and ends – though not necessarily in that order. I am endlessly fascinated by the myriad ways in which ‘stories’ can be told. I’ve worked closely with playwrights and performance creators as a director of readings, works-in-progress and first productions. From 1999 through 2003, I served as the Artistic Producing Director for 3 Legged Race New Theater & Performance, an organization dedicated to the acceleration of invention in new performance. Named “Best Theater for New Work” (City Pages Arts Weekly) and honored by the Minneapolis Star Tribune for “Outstanding Experimental Performance 2003″, 3LR earned a reputation for unexpected artistic commitments, vanguard programming and unusual approaches to merging eclectic performance disciplines.
Outwardly, my leadership of 3LR focused on commissioning and developing experimental works poised at the crossroads of live performance disciplines (including dance, circus arts, puppetry/object theater, performance art and their combinations). Over five years, I produced more than 75 new works by diverse artists from across the country including playwrights, sculptors, performance artists, clowns, choreographers, object-makers, aerialists, puppeteers, composers and curious people of all kinds. Working alongside such an incredible range of personalities and aesthetics, I became interested in how it is that artists make good work. What are the tools, the resources, the support systems and the environment that allow for creativity to flourish? What does this artist need that is different from what that artist needs? What makes a dynamic process? About art and art making, I believe that: Collaboration and constant exposure to new ideas keeps work fresh, present and alive; Risk and the failures that inevitably go along with it are a necessity; Experimentation with form, and particularly with methods that are beyond one’s comfort zone, lead to unexpected discoveries. Both as a producer and when working with students at all levels, these are the issues I now consider most.
I am deeply interested in social systems, organizational structures, effective and alternative leadership and the complexity of human relationships. This preoccupation runs through all of my work, from my obsession with the crafting of a nuanced relational moment on stage to my passion for building flexible, responsive systems capable of nurturing and sustaining creativity. How might we work together toward change, toward vision, toward possibility? And, how might we do it even better?
Other points of interest – I am an affiliate faculty member in the Master of Liberal Studies Arts and Cultural Leadership program and the Department of Theater and Dance at the University of Minnesota where I have taught directing, creating the performance, dance production, issues in arts leadership and other courses over the past 13 years. I teach motorcycle-riding skills at community colleges and have become enchanted with the social dynamics of ‘motorcycle culture’. I am a committed partner, a lover of dogs, a homeowner, a gardener and a proud Martha Stewart fan.