The Performant: Parts is Parts

"Factory Parts" opens tonight and runs through July 28 at NOH Space.

FoolsFURY’s Factory Parts Builds a Future for Ensemble Works

Ever ambitious, the process-oriented foolsFURY theater ensemble has added yet another performance series to its production calendar: "Factory Parts," focusing on works-in-development from fellow ensemble companies from both coasts.

Structured like a lower-key version of its biennial festival of ensemble theater, "The FURY Factory," "Factory Parts" brings together ten companies to present segments of unfinished works before an audience (and each other) to gain perspective on how to shape them for the future. Broken up into three separate programs each showing three times over the course of ten days, Factory Parts offers artists and audiences alike to get in on the ground floor of a production’s existence and offer insight and feedback to the companies involved, turning what would normally be behind-the-scenes workshopping into a form of participatory theatergoing.

I caught up with foolsFURY’s associate artistic director Debórah Eliezer to get the inside scoop on the series, which opens tonight.

SF Bay Guardian So how does the focus of "Factory Parts" differ from that of "The FURY Factory"?

Debórah Eliezer What we’ve been doing with "FURY Factory" is creating mainstage performances during the weekends; in the middle of the week, we’ve been doing works-in-progress. So what would happen is, we’d do multiple types of shows, and you’d get this cross-hybrid of audience, who were all there to see a different thing. And the secondfold here is to be able to offer a venue for creators who are working together over a long period of time. You need to have these stops on your journey where you go “Ok, this is what I’ve got, I’m going to bare my soul in front of you and show you this, bearing in mind that it’s a work in a larger development process.”

What we’ve found is that there are a lot of venues showcasing this kind of work if you call it dance. It’s very typical for dancers to have five minutes of their work in a choreographic showcase, and then to keep working on the piece. So what we want to do is [similarly] educate the theater audience member. We really want to bring people into process.

SFBG When we talk about works that are in progress in the context of this festival, was there a minimum threshold of completeness required for participation? What was the selection process like?

DE The selection process was in large part determined by time. My thing was, “Just give me ten good minutes. I would rather see that, than half an hour that contains ten good minutes.” I think the majority of the pieces, about 80 percent, are ten-minute pieces, including foolsFURY’s. It allows artists to take responsibility for what they are capable of producing in a time period that is feasible. 

SFBG And how did you wrangle the artists that you did?

DE We did send out a publicity letter, but more specifically, we reached out to people that we thought would really benefit from the experience. And I think we’re building on the strength of "The FURY Factory," that this is really a way for some of the companies to start ramping up for next year. There’s no guarantee of acceptance but the idea is we’re providing this venue as a stair step for how to develop your piece. ”Ok I’m in 'Factory Parts' and maybe I can work toward 'FURY Factory.'”

SFBG So the main thing you expect audiences to get out of this program is the opportunity to be integrated into the process of creating theater? Or what do you think the main draw will be?

DE [To] invite the audience into process development with the idea that they can then take responsibility for what they see and their own enjoyment, their participation is a vital aspect of the development process. On the third night of every program there’s going to be an audience feedback session, moderated by a dramaturg, a talkback of sorts, so there’ll be the feedback between the artist and the audience. And then there’ll be peer review feedback, between the companies, who are all required to see the other two programs, and they’ll have a feedback forum … and then the third part of this whole response ecosystem will be a roundtable discussion (on the morning of Sun/28). It’ll be a moderated discussion among peers, a community gathering of sorts, to culminate the process as a whole.

"Factory Parts"

Wed/17-Sun/21 and July 25-28, 8pm, $15 ($40 pass)

NOH Space

2840 Mariposa, SF


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