Monday, September 16, 2013

6 QUESTIONS: Max Steele

Performer and writer Max Steele's solo show, ENCOURAGER will be presented as part of La MaMa's A SERIES OF ONE on Saturday, September 28th at 10pm at The Club.  

We asked Max 6 questions about himself and his work:

1. What was the initial inspiration for this project?

I made ENCOURAGER in my first year as an Artist in Residence at Brooklyn Arts Exchange/BAX. I wanted to make a solo performance that wasn't tied to other forms I had worked in before, theater, music, dance, etc. I knew I wanted to make a solo performance, and eventually the material I was working with led me to the form of the self-help seminar. I'd been thinking a lot about Consciousness-Raising groups of the 1960s and 70s, as well as current places where expertise and entertainment overlap (TED Talks, memoir as cinema). The initial inspiration for the project, though, was that I wanted to make a performance in which the audience could feel like they were being hit on. All at the same time. So I started looking for ways to do that, and I think I succeeded. I feel good about where that line of thinking has led me. I definitely figured out a lot of other things, on the way, and the surprise has been that in order for that to happen (for the audience to feel like they're each, individually, being seduced) you have to to teach them to seduce themselves.

2. What was the most challenging element in making this show?

The biggest challege I had in making ENCOURAGER was working by myself the whole time. I wanted to work by myself to generate as much material as I could, and to edit and organize the text and performance entirely by myself. This show is my baby and I'm very proud of it, but it did hurt quite a bit to make everything by myself. I'm sure I could havge saved myself a lot of anguish if I had brough in other people to give feedback at different points, or help direct or coach the performance at different times. That being said, I think the anguish and the isolation was necessary, and I don't regret working this way.

3. Do you think of your work at political?

I do think of ENCOURAGER as inherently political, in the sense that it's about asking people to have a more earnest engagement with themselves and each other. There's not an overt political statement, but my place in the world informs my work and everything else I do.

4. How would you describe your aesthetic?

Cautious optimism, earnest abjection, a serious joke, sexy ambivalence. I think of ENCOURAGER as being content-free in a way, more like a Philosophy lecture, because it's me sort of articulating some of my philosophical values, but I feel pretty confident that the aesthetic experience of it is sort of more black humor.

5. Who has inspired you?

So, so many people, but lately the more and more work I see and make, the more I realize how much Penny Arcade and Lydia Lunch are influences for me, with regard to both writing and performing. Hugely underrated. I feel like they've each inspired more than one generation of artists, and while I can't exactly do what either of them can do in live performance, they've both definitely inspired me with their force of will and rigor of thought.

6. What does working at La MaMa mean to you?

I love La MaMa! I'm really honored and excited to get to be performing my own work there. La MaMa's legacy of supporting artistic innovation is really exciting to get to be part of.

You can check out Max's blog here:

And don't forget to come see Max's show at La MaMa!

La MaMa presents
Max Steele's


Saturday, September 28th at 10pm

The Club at La MaMa

74A East 4th Street
New York, NY 10003

Tickets are $15 for adults; $10 for students and seniors; a limited number of $10 tickets are available (to anyone) as part of La MaMa's 10 @ $10 initiative. 

For tickets and info: Click Here