Ahead of the 44 Plays for 44 Presidents event on Monday, October 29th, I had a chance to connect with dog & pony Ringleader, Lorraine Ressegger. Here's our conversation:
Jacqueline Lawton: How did your company form and how long have you been presenting work in D.C.?
Lorraine Ressegger: dog & pony dc was the vision of Wykcham Avery, Rachel, Grossman, and myself. We had met and worked together as teaching artists at the Shakespeare Theatre Company and were very interested in working together artistically. We launched in 2008 with the hope of building and developing an ensemble of artists.
JL: What impact do you hope to make in the D.C. theatre community?
LR: d&pdc creates theatrical productions from inception to production as an ensemble. Our approach engages artists and audiences as a cohesive team, “conspiring” as integral participants in the creation of each performance. With every production d&pdc challenges itself and the DC theatre community to explore the elastic relationship between performer and audience through its “audience integration” approach.
JL: Is political theatre important to you?
LR: Absolutely. Forgive me for quoting Vaclev Havel, but he so beautifully articulates why politics in theatre (no necessarily political theatre) is important.
“Action shown on stage always radiates a broader message, without necessarily being expressed in words. It is a fragment of life organized in a way meant to say something about life as a whole. The collective nature of a theatrical experience is no less important: theatre always presupposes the presence of a community – actors and audience – who experience it together.”
JL: Why did you decide to participate in 44 Plays for 44 Presidents?
LR: We were honored to have been approached to represent DC in the Plays for Presidents Festival, a national collaboration of theatre and educational artists. d&pdc is a long-time fan of the Neo-Futurists approach to creating work that draws on artists’ personal experiences to create immediate and visceral performances that connect to audiences’ in unique, compelling ways. As an ensemble based company, we saw this as an opportunity to form a momentary ensemble of DC theatre companies and artists, DC’s performance of 44 Presidents for the festival is a mini-festival within itself.
JL: Which president are you featuring? What’s his political affiliation and campaign slogan?
LR: Herbert Hoover, Republican – A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.
JL: What’s something interesting we should know about him?
LR: He was a mining engineer and worked for a private corporation in China where he was during the Boxer Rebellion.
JL: Did he support the arts while in office? If so, how?
LR: I could not find any information on whether or not he supported the arts. I believe he was so mired in the depression which broke out soon after he took office that all of his focus was on rescuing America from poverty.
JL: If he was running for office this year, would you vote for him? Why or why not?
LR: No, because of his inflexibility and refusal to change course even when things were clearly wrong.
JL: In addition to 44 Plays for 44 Presidents, what’s next for your company?
LR: A Killing Game, inspired by Eugene Ionesco's play Killing Game, Orson Welles' infamous War of the Worlds 1938 radio broadcast, and Fluxx, the card game with ever-changing rules.
A Killing Game is a series of scenes that journey the audience through the frenzied phases of a public health emergency. In a highly playful, game-filled environment, the show explores how we get caught up in chaos and hysteria during times of crisis.
November 28 - December 22
WED - SAT | 7:30PM
Capitol Hill Arts Workshop
ONLINE TICKETS: $17*
AT THE DOOR TICKETS: Play-for-Your-Price ($5 - 40)*
I'm a playwright, dramaturg, and teaching artist. It is here where you'll find my queries and musings on life, theater and the world. My posts advocate for diversity, inclusion, and equity in the American Theatre and updates on my own work. Please enjoy!