Ninth Year for SIUE Xfest

Xfest provides the opportunity for our students to work with artists of international stature—an important component of their study within the department.”–Dr. Chuck Harper

Deeply Rooted Productions. Photo Credit: Ken Carl

September 10-14 marked the ninth year of SIUE Xfest: a festival of alternative theatre and dance. For one week out the year, the Department of Theater and Dance sponsors this signature event, cancelling classes to allow students to attend. This year, Xfest featured alternative performances by ensembles from San Francisco, Chicago, St. Louis, and New York.

There are many questions swirling around the adjective of “alternative” though. Chair of the Department of Theater and Dance, Dr. Chuck Harper, provides some clarity, “Let me explain what we mean by that—it’s performers who create their own work, material that is not usually based on plays, or maybe a crazy clown version of a classical play. A lot of experimental theater has a bad reputation. We want the community and our students to see that’s not always the case. It’s nothing to be frightened of. People love these shows and we sell out every year.”

At Xfest, you can expect to see performances that cross lines between disciplines. Bouffon Glass Menajoree, by Ten Directions is the perfect example. The play is a parody of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie, and heavily employs Bouffon clowning (the art of mockery), mocking everything from the playwright himself to members of the audience. “It’s one thing to explain what alternate and experimental theater means or to watch a video, but there’s no substitute for actually seeing what is out there,” Harper comments.

The annual festival enables those in attendance to see five productions and network with performers from around the country, all without having to travel to four different locations to do it. Xfest does not just provide students with an opportunity to network and see live performances though––during the week, the visiting artists also teach workshops and master classes for students to attend. This gives students the opportunity to not only learn from the artists but see how it applies to the art itself. “To be a creative generative artist…not everyone knows that’s an option. There are more possibilities than what students realize. Xfest shows them a range of possibilities” (Harper).

Xfest will conclude with a performance by Deeply Rooted Productions at Dunham Hall Friday, Sept. 14 from 7:00-9:00 P.M.

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