Monica: I’m Monica Bill Barnes and I’m the artistic director of the company.
Anna: I’m Anna Bass I’m a performer and associate artistic director.
Robbie: I’m Robbie I’m the producing director of the company.
Tell us a little about Happy Hour, which you performed in the barn here on September 4th!
Monica: It was great. We did it in a barn, and it was a lot of fun. The show is still in development but really far along as far as knowing itself as a show, and we had a really great experience putting it up.
Robbie: We worked on it by (1) just putting it up and (2) having time to think about how we’re producing it. We’re producing it ourselves in NYC this fall, so we’ve spent a lot of time figuring out how we’re going to do that as a tiny company.
How many times have you shown this piece in progress?
Anna: Less than ten?
Monica: It’s really important to us that we never show anything that feels ‘in progress.’ That it feel like, when people arrive we shape it so the show feels like it’s the last time we’ll ever do it. For me, it feels like as soon as you let an audience know that it isn’t real, or we’re still thinking, or we’re working things out that—it lowers the stakes from the experience, it creates a certain empathy from the audience to support your process and actually the work and everything we do is resting on the assumption that it’s a real show with real stakes. We don’t learn anything if it feels in progress to the audience. They have to feel that this is the be-all-end-all.
Because they’re gentler if they feel like it’s in progress?
Monica: Yeah and they feel like they’re a part of the process. That they’re helpful. That they’re there to support you in some way. And it’s really important that they feel that they’re the audience for a real show. That they are not a part of it. This is a really solid entity that’s unfolding in the way that it is, mistakes and all.
They need to feel safe enough to dislike it, or?
Anna: Just to behave normally.
Robbie: It’s funny. We’ve all gone to showings with such a different way than when you just buy a ticket and see something. So much of our work revolves around what an audience really means, and what the performers relationship with the audience means. It feels like it’s really wrong for people to come in with the idea of, “let me just look at this and then we’ll talk about the work afterwards?” We learn so much more when everyone just shows up for a show. Because we want to make a show.
What’s different about the showing in New York?
Robbie: It’s not in a barn. We will not be playing How Much Does My Squash Play.
Anna: No garlic.
Robbie: It will be set in a sort-of office space. But some things are really similar—the size of the audience is similar and the intimacy of the room will be similar.
Monica: It’s going to be a weekly event.
Anna: It’s going to be downtown. At the Gibney Dance Center. Very close to city hall.
Robbie: Very close.
How long have all three of you been working together?
Monica: Anna and I have been working together for 12 years and Robbie joined us 2 years ago.
Robbie: Just jumped right in.
Monica: Head first.
So you guy have been here for a few days do you have a favorite place to hang out in on the farm?
Monica: The lake.
Anna: And the back porch here in Kay Hall.
Robbie: The lake, but way out in the middle. We like to get right out in the way.
The last question, the SPACE staple: if you could be reincarnated as a farm animal, what would you choose and why?
Monica: I have a lot in common with a rooster because they’re loud…
Robbie: They get up early.
Monica: They get up early, they don’t have a great sense of the time—the ones here.
Robbie: If they’re up, everyone has to be up.
Monica: They’ve got great hair.
Anna: I like the horses. These horses have a good life. A retired horse. Near water, you know, with the water and the mountains around me. That’s what I want to be.
Robbie: Sammy the cat. Or is it Porch? I would like to point out for the record that there is a lot of discrepancy amongst the SPACE on Ryder Farm staff about the name.
Monica: That’s our feedback!
Interview by Sam Mayer