Reflections On Impossible Pursuits: Staging Harry Partch

  • Conrad Alexandrowicz


This essay traces the origin, research, development and production of the performance work entitled The Boy Who Went Outside, which took as its point of departure the life, work and struggles of the American musical revolutionary and composer Harry Partch. It is at once a personal reflection, the biography of a stage production, an argument about discursive hegemony, and a contribution to the ongoing discussion amongst artists and scholars about the problematized texts that fall under the rubric of ‘auto/biographical theatre.’ In the course of describing this work—my first attempt in this genre—I aim to demonstrate that this kind of theatre is as much about its creator as it is about its putative subject, and is therefore as much ‘autobiography’ as it ‘biography’—or rather, that it is neither, as the theatre cannot sustain meaning in a way that is equivalent to that of written text.  

CONRAD ALEXANDROWICZ is a director, writer and choreographer, and the artistic director of Wild Excursions Performance. He is an interdisciplinary artist who frequently combines elements of theatre and dance in different ways. To date he has created over forty-five dance and physical-theatre works, some of which have been presented across Canada, in New York City, France and the U.K. A faculty member at the Theatre Department of the University of Victoria, he teaches movement for actors and devised physical theatre.He currently holds a substantial research grant from SSHRC to investigate using poetic text as the basis for physical theatre creation. A number of pieces—using texts by poets Lorna Crozier and Erin Mouré—have been staged as part of this work, and the final production will be shown in Vancouver and Victoria in May of 2014.