What are your names and where are you from?
Kristine: I’m Kristine Haruna Lee and I’m from Brooklyn, New York.
Kim: I’m Kim Gainer and I live in Harlem but I’m from Louisville, Kentucky.
Jess: I’m Jessica Almasy, I’m from New Jersey.
And what are you working on while you’re on the farm?
Jess: I’m working with these other two humans on what I first described to them as a feminist alien seance. We’re looking into what kind of spiritual powers we need to invoke to survive our current political climate alongside the idea of wearing womanhood as an alienating experience. It’s a riff off this book by Simone de Beauvoir called “The Woman Destroyed” which is in three parts, each written from the perspective of a different woman. That’s why it was important for me to collaborate with Kristine and Kim on this. So that’s the play I’m working on, it’s called “The Woman Destroyed, or How Not to get Punched in the Face”. We’re thinking a lot about feminine structure and feminine dramaturgy, which we think about as circles. If this play is a seance, if it’s a circle, then does it have a center or even need a center? We’re very conscious of making this a feminine process.
Kim: We’ve been having a lot of really deep conversations about race and opportunity and art, and I’ve been very inspired by the natural surroundings to reflect on how these three things converge. I had an idea, partially because we spent so much time on the lake joking around about a side project we would call “Lake Shark”, a horror movie for the stage. But that’s for later, we’ll get to writing that later! In the meantime, I’ve been writing a play about a corporate booze cruise gone wrong where everyone dies in a wreck except for these two shipwrecked co-workers, a black woman and a white man. I wanted to know if they would replay all of their same patterns around gender, race and power if no one else was around or if they would build some new structures.
Kristine: Something I’ve been contributing to this process is the idea of polyamory, which is the focus of my own personal project called plural (love). I’m in conversation with Jess and Kim in development of this text I’ve been writing that is very personal. It’s an experiment in radical truth telling and autotheory, which is basically finding ways in which speaking about myself becomes a critical or theoretical investigation, a la Maggie Nelson or “I Love Dick” by Chris Kraus. Polyamory for me is the ultimate queer form of love, and when I’ve played it out I’ve seen epic states of failure, experiencing new emotional territory that’s so dark and human but also seeing such ecstatic joy. That in itself is a process of conversation, so I feel like this thing that Jess invited us into is very much a polyamorous process where we love our own individual relationships to our own work but we also open that up into this collective creative process, and that simultaneity is the thing at hand that we’re struggling with and being with.
What will happen to your work and to this unique relationship once you leave the farm?
Jess: We haven’t really had that conversation yet so we’ll probably explore that right now. Personally I want to stay very much involved with these other two women and their projects, like with Kim’s project. I don’t know in what capacity I could help Kim with her booze cruise idea but I want to be involved in that polyamorous process with her as she continues to work on it.
Kristine: I think the directionality of thinking about pretty roduction is so linear, which is so not what this relationship is about. Yes these pieces should be produced, but that’s not what our relationship is about. Our energies aren’t unidirectional, they’re out in all these different directions and that’s what makes it a beautiful polyamorous artistic collaboration.
Jess: It’s neat that you say that because I’ve been very interested in Simone de Beauvoir’s relationship with Jean-Paul Sartre, as writers and philosophers and super-flawed polyamorous lovers. I’ve been interested in them for over a decade as figures and one thing I love about them is that they were a part of this community of philosophers who would be writing texts that were both influenced by each other and in competition but they would still come together and drink together and make art together which is what this community is that we’ve built on the farm. We’ve got companionship but total freedom, not a contractual commitment to conformity but a desire to be infiltrated by the others. I’m going to get ambition and humility from being around these people because I’m asking them to influence who I’ve become, in a non-traditional way.
How do you three fit into The Team?
Jess: I’ll speak to the succinct and present circumstance. The Team has been around for 12 years and I’m one of the founding members but we’re all equal. There’s about 13 of us, designers, performers, writers, and our artistic director, but we’re all considered writers in whatever way we each feel we can write. We write our plays collaboratively, so like traditionally a few of us would come to the group with an idea and it would get approved by our artistic director, but since we’ve been growing and becoming decentralized, we can move away from that western, male idea of a director. We’re looking at the idea of commissions through this highly polyamorous process where we can invite other people in and discuss collectively big production questions about what The Team can provide beyond traditional resources. There’s all these questions that are microcosmic for me in terms of my very binary traditional marriage structure ending and for our polyamorous relationship here on the farm. My place in The Team is as a member of the family, and we’re here because The Team was offered the space and I wanted to try out this idea of how The Team can work.
Where have you each been working on the farm?
Kim: We as a triad have been finding several spots agreeable. We have play work time, like at the lake on the paddle boat playing around with the Lake Shark idea, but personally I really enjoy the walk to the lake and watching the horses. They seem so magical and intuitive that they almost seem telepathic, like in the way performers can be telepathic on stage. I also spend a lot of time in my room, the Ambrose Room, which is vastly different from my room in Harlem.
Jess: Today I’m working for the first time in the parlor room, with the piano. When I walked in I realized that that room is the set for my play. I don’t find it creepy, I find it alive with energy coming out of it. I feel like I should be there.
Kristine: I have been writing in Kay Hall mostly, but I’ve been getting into a more meditative state before writing in the barn. It’s nice to have the luxury of multiple spaces that have different vibes so I’ve been trying to take advantage of that.
And finally, what farm animal would you like to be reincarnated as?
Jess: A horse. The first thing it makes me think of is gender, because you can’t tell a horse’s gender when you look at it initially. They’re each incredibly muscular and powerful, like there’s no coincidence that horse and force sound so similar.
Kim: I feel like I’m also a horse. I think they’re strong and sexy, not in a weird way, just in that they’re so beautiful in their freedom. Their eyes know you, and that’s why I was thinking so much about telepathy and horses. Their eyes are so soulful and their movements so conservative, as if every movement is meant to communicate something. There’s a mystery there.
Kristine: I would be a goat. I know I’m a goat, as much as I would like to be a different animal I know I’m a goat.
Interview by Xander Browne.