David Levine’s Bauerntheater by Aaron Cedolia & Geoffrey Scott

Part of the Editor's Choice series.

BOMB 100 Summer 2007
100 Summer 2007

Courtesy of David Levine.

“The chasm between contemporary art and theater is a topic of perpetual amazement to CiNE. Theater does not have much appeal to visual art audiences, who are put off materially by theater’s admission prices and aesthetically by theater’s insistence on the suspension of disbelief. But today’s theater audiences don’t think much of contemporary art, either; they are put off by its obscurantism, its resistance to narrative, and by what they consider its amateurish approach to performance.”

These 76 words from the 16-page portfolio Re-Public written by David Levine and his company CiNE in fall 2005 gave birth to our company, peoplmovr. As we sought to reconcile our theater practice with interests in art and design, we found a fellow traveler in Levine.

Levine recently emailed us about his new project, in which a US actor, David Barlow, would train to portray a German farmer in a Heiner Müller play. Barlow would prepare in New York for a month, then fly to the Biorama-Projekt in Brandenburg to work two acres of land, 14 hours a day, for two weeks. The last line of the email hooked us: “Bauerntheater will culminate in … approximately half a ton of harvested potatoes.”

Later, in a refurbished warehouse, Levine told us more. It’s Stanislavski upside down: the play won’t even be performed. Barlow will enact the farmer role outside the play. Working the land, he’ll “experience” the life of the character.

As we left, Levine and his actors stepped into a dirt pit—the “farm”—and literally got their hands dirty rehearsing. Bridging the art and theater worlds is messy work. Bauerntheater’s scope alone should help it transcend detractors. If not, there are always those potatoes.

Documentary footage was screened at the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center, New York, in Fall of 2007.

i am writing to inform you of what i am doing by Christian Hawkey
113 Fp Hawkey 01 Body
David Levine by James N. Kienitz Wilkins
Occult image of Roddy McDowall and Lorrie Hull following a method acting seminar at Ripon College, ca. 1972. C-print, 29.5 × 23.5 inches. From the series Vertebrae by Vertebrae, 2015.

Body swapping, infinite loops, and ’70s conspiracy thrillers haunt the dynamic performances of a movie-loving artist and the actors he works with.

Becca Blackwell by Jim Fletcher
Becca Blackwell Bomb 01

The actors chat about performing masculinity, transitioning, and Blackwell’s one-person show They, Themself and Schmerm.

Sharon Fogarty by Zachary Small
Sharon Fogarty Bomb 1

“They said, ‘You’ll be in charge of the children and the dogs.’ And I said, ‘Okay! But what does that even mean?’”

Originally published in

BOMB 100, Summer 2007

Featuring interviews with Chuck Close, Kara Walker, Mamma Andersson, Howard Norman, Peter Nadas, Bela Tarr, Benedict Mason, and Kate Valk.

Read the issue
100 Summer 2007