TIM MILLER "Charged Bodies" LINKS HALL- NOV 21-22 Chicago- TIME OUT Feature Story
Check out this big TIME OUT CHICAGO feature on my CHARGED BODIES project!
Charged Bodies has been an amazing four month long National Performance Network Community Fund project sponsored by Links Hall where I had the honor to mentor these three truly fierce emerging queer Chicago-based performers. Awilda, Rebecca and Sentell were chosen by an independent panel to take part in this mentorship program and working with them has been one of the most satisfying projects I have ever been part of. "Emerging" doesn't even begin to do them justice though. These three artists are exploding into their creativity and command our attention as they claim charged new spaces of LGBT experience. We will be hearing much more from each of these artists in the next years. Links Hall is truly to be commended for creating this opportunity.
Since July we have undertaken an exciting and charged exploration into creating original performance work from our lives, dreams, obsessions, peeves, memories and desires. The courage each of these three artists has shown as they take on the complex spaces of family, sexuality and gender can inspire all of us to keep digging deep into our own lives and their meanings. Indeed, there are so many ways that they also mentored me by the courage of their creativity, intelligence and heart.
Time Out Chicago / Issue 195 : Nov 20–26, 2008
Three young artists get coached by performance-art guru Tim Miller.
By Jason A. Heidemann
NAKED TRUTH Miller coaches Harper, Kling and Rodriguez Lora (pictured below). Tim Miller is a talker. We’re not just referring to the fact that the legendary solo performer, writer and teacher is the kind of guy journalists love because he can speak intelligently and effusively on any number of topics. Miller also communicates with his body. That’s why the man behind emotionally charged LGBT solo performance works such as My Queer Body, Usand 1001 Beds was tapped for a new mentoring program in Chicago.
Miller, 50, hails from Los Angeles, where he lives with his partner of nearly 15 years, writer Alistair McCartney. Miller’s one-man shows are emotional, abrasive, pointed and often political examinations of the queer experience conveyed through his words and (sometimes naked) body. They’re so provocative that, in 1990, Miller became one of several artists famously referred to as the “NEA Four” when the National Endowment for the Arts yanked their funding. His tours have included frequent lectures on the university circuit as well as extended workshops in which he both trains intensively and performs with fellow artists.
Last year, at a gathering in New Orleans for the National Performance Network, a think-tank funding agency for performance artists, Miller ran into CJ Mitchell, who runs Links Hall, a performing-arts venue in Lakeview. The two came up with the idea of Miller spending a week in Chicago in July to train a group of 17 artists and then continuing with three of them in a four-month mentorship capacity. “The [NPN] has these small grants to gather energies and do an extended period of community-based work,” Miller says. “It seemed like a really good match.”
The result, Charged Bodies, culminates in a preview of the three mentees’ new works this weekend. Chosen by an independent panel, Sentell Harper, Rebecca Kling and Awilda Rodriguez Lora trained with Miller in person in July and October, on an ongoing basis via telephone, and by submitting videos of their work t o Miller via YouTube.
For Kling, 24, an Evanston native and Northwestern graduate who identifies as trans, performance art helps negotiate the transitioning process. “It’s been a struggle to figure out how to put myself on stage physically in terms of the nitty-gritty,” Kling says. “Where do I want to move my body, what am I wearing, and how am I expressing myself visually? It’s been great having Tim as a sounding board.” Of Kling’s “amazing” exploration of the MTF experience, Miller says, “It’s an incredibly hot-off-the-griddle space to be creating performance from. She’s so in the midst of it.”
Miller, who had met Harper before, encouraged the 27-year-old Washington, D.C., native to apply to the program. “Sentell is very much sifting through his identity as a black man,” Miller says. “No young queer black man is making the piece he can make right now.” For Harper, Miller’s input has been tremendous. “You’re putting your dirty laundry out there to the public,” Harper says. “For Tim to bear witness to this kind of work—he’s so encouraging; he makes us feel like we’re on the right path.”
Meanwhile, the oldest of the three, 31-year-old Puerto Rican–raised Rodriguez Lora, explores family and Latina queer identity. Entering performance work after a long career as a dancer, she saw in teaming with Miller an opportunity to shift into solo performance. “The mentorship program took me to the next level of what I needed…that strength of being a solo performer,” she says. Miller adds: “Awilda’s doing work around family, the lesbian body, incredibly fierce and funny work about sex and masturbation. Her work is really powerful.”Miller himself will preview a new work at Links Hall this weekend. And while we suspect he has many more years of solo work ahead of him, he seems enthusiastic to pass the torch to a new generation. “These three mentees are going to be nationally important emerging artists,” Miller says.
Tim Miller’s Charged Bodies Residency Program happens at Links Hall Friday 21 and Saturday 22.