Kevin Jesuino is a performance artist/ theatre deviser/ media designer. He was the Artist Director of New City Collective (2007-10), a Bangkok-based multi-disciplinary art collective dedicated to physically devising theatre pieces for non-traditional theatre spaces. Kevin was the recipient of the Bangkok Bob Best Director Award presented by the Bangkok Theatre Society in 2010 for his directing of “Savage/Love” (Sheppard/Chaikin) and also won for Best Performance at the Alternator Art Gallery’s Wearable Art Gala 2011. Kevin has been published with NeWest Press for his devised theatre piece “Grumplestock’s” collaboratively created by Jon Stewart, Trish Lorenz and himself. He presented his piece “Dee/Dum” (Jesuino/Mendonca) at the Mad Hatter in 2010 and spent this past summer touring with Inner Fish Performance Co. throughout Europe with the Sound Can Tour. Kevin is currently completing the Interdisciplinary Performance program at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan Campus where his research interests lie in questioning how a physical body, within a performance, both as performer and viewer, reacts, interacts, and is effected by technology, and how this translates into ordinary life. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Kevin about his work.
AE: What is it about Performance Art that invites you to consider it your choice of study and practice? What is it about Performance that interests you?
KJ: Since I was a kid, my parents put me in Portuguese Cultural Dancing, for like…sixteen years (chuckles). I ended up teaching it. At that point it was me being part of my cultural roots and cultural community, and my parents’ cultural community as well. Through that, I developed this sense of kinesthetic connection to my body, which transferred into drama class in high school, being a performer, and then that developed into college and other theatre work. For me, my interest comes from the body, and I’ve been dealing with that connection of bodies in relation to my work and the actors and the spectators. We all want to make “smart art”, but I really do believe in “the media is the message,” and having some sort of consideration for what you’re producing.
AE: What kinds of concepts are you into right now? How are they blending with your interests?
KJ: At the moment I’m really interested in the body’s connection to technology. I know, body again, but we live in a world where artists are now using the internet and social media to advertise themselves and market themselves, artists have websites. I want to incorporate technology into my art. How does technology relate to myself? What sort of addictions come from that and how do they develop into natural, ordinary life? Screens are everywhere, ipods, MP3s, computers, screens are everywhere. I’m fascinated with technology because it’s like our baby, we made it, and now we rely so heavily on it, because it’s all grown up.
AE: Could you relate where you’ve lived, here, in Thailand, and in Edmonton, to how it effects your work? What kind of things does your location do for you?
KJ: I think that every community is its own network and every network has its own way of working and what’s new and fresh in that scene. Coming from Edmonton there was a real classical theatre and musical theatre training institutions that have been teaching for years and years, so there’s the act of storytelling there. I learned the beginnings of devised theatre through Ken Brown, who’s a well-known playwright, director and performer, he taught me a lot about non-linearity but having that through-line.
Moving to Thailand, I was confronted with the conflict of, y’know, how do I storytell not just to English people but to Thai people, or people who don’t speak either of those languages! You get on a subway in Bangkok and it’s like in New York City, so many different languages all going at once. So I had to delve into the world of physically created theatre and devising pieces without using words, which helped me question how language fits into my performances.
Kelowna really expanded my head as to what performance is, performativity being something that we just do, y’know, standing in line at Tim Horton’s, or walking down a hallway on campus. Once I realize that it’s like theatre is this space where it can happen at any time, you can call it art, you can call it theatre, and it can happen anywhere. So yeah, the three places I’ve lived in have drastically affected my performance work.
Kevin’s next project will be again investigating the relationship of technology to humanity, and you can check it out on Friday, February 17th at the Mad Hatter: In the Land of Odd show on Industrial ave. in downtown Kelowna. However, even the audience has expectations of interaction with the actors to re-evaluate how they relate to the performance.