During the spring semester of 2015, Whoop Dee Doo artists led a two-month workshop with the Abrons Arts Center’s Urban Youth Theater ensemble to create a variety show from scratch. Whoop Dee Doo reached out to a number of local performers who collaborated with Whoop Dee Doo artists and the Urban Youth Theater ensemble in the conception of their performances. Through this series of workshops, UYT students helped craft the visual content, the curation of the show, and the collaborative ideas that altered our guest performers’ work to fit the theme of “spring”.
An Abominable Thawt was performed on the second day of Spring and the structure and theme of the show’s set and performances reflected that. The first half of the show featured a “frozen” set, which completely took over the performance space in the form of a floor to ceiling, 360-degree installation. Performances during the frozen half of the show included, among others, a contest hosted by a group of abominable snowmen (UYT students) and a traditional Japanese masked prison dance performed by the Japanese Folk Dance Institute of New York.
At the show’s midway point the set was thawed by an original collaborative sound piece created by Tuvan-style throat singer, Robert McLaughlin and opera singer Joseph Keckler. Robert and Michael, performing from within the set itself, melted away the “ice” covering the set and initiated a series of lighting changes in the room that ended with a warm, bright scene full of plant and spring-themed props designed and created by the UYT students as well as Whoop Dee Doo artists and additional community contributors.
The Second half of the show featured spring-related performances, including among others, a student-led game show in which contestants sang to a panel of oversized flower judges, and a traditional Japanese fan dance, again performed by Japanese Folk Dance Institute of New York.
A documentary of behind-the-scenes footage was filmed by PBS’ Art21: New York Close Up, released in May of 2015.
The Urban Youth Theater Ensemble
The Japanese Folk Dance Institute of New York
Abrons Art Center
Art21: New York Close Up
Gareth Nolasco Tupper