The Hinterlands’ current body of work centers on searching for the ghosts of traditional American performance forms in contemporary culture and resuscitating them for our Internet Age. From raves to Wild West shows, from vaudeville to naturalism, happenings to sitcoms, we are on a mission to discover the unique quality that is American-ness. We do this through creating work over extended periods of time (one year or more), presenting pieces along the way in a variety of settings and contexts to hone a performance for its final touring state.
Our main body of work began with our psychedelic wild west show Manifest Destiny! (there was blood on the saddle), performed in two phases – as a surreal story told ’round the campfire at Cooking Fire Theatre Festival (Toronto, Canada) in June 2010, and as a full-length roving performance winding through historic Jam Handy Building (Detroit) and Pitman Theater (Alverno Presents, Milwaukee). The next piece in the series was The Circuit, a high-octane, full-throttle investigation of classic American vaudeville, from sister acts to animal acts to physical comedy to big dance numbers to gentle soft shoe to the eccentric act. Playing off the historic role of vaudeville to integrate different cultural groups into the American mainstream, we examined and pulled content from contemporary American subcultures including techno and rave subculture, urban dance, Juggalos, riot grrrls, and circuit bending. The Circuit was presented as a work-in-progress vaudeville evening at Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, as a wandering neighborhood performance for the Network of Ensemble Theaters Detroit Microfest, as an installation and short Detroit-centric vaudeville event at the Shanghai Biennial’s Detroit Pavillion, and as a looping assembly line-inspired durational performance on the former Chevy-in-the-Hole site for the Flint Public Art Project before reaching its final touring form.
We are currently investigating American naturalism and early American laboratory theatres in a two-part companion piece performance called The Radicalization Process. The piece, slated for performance in 2015, centers on extremism in contemporary America.