From recent MASS MoCA director-in-residence Nick Brooke:
Two weeks at Mass MoCA was intense, hallucinatory, and wonderful, both for me and my co-director Jenny Rohn. Never have we assembled so quickly 8 performers, tons of props (120 bricks, desks, chairs, and wheelbarrows filled with phone books), and enough speakers to fill Wembley Stadium. My music is a collage of hundreds of recorded samples, which I train singers to imitate. I create virtuosic musical scores (with yodeling, top-40 tunes, and whistling) and physical ‘scores’ (bricklaying, carrying people in wheelbarrows, and all-out brawls). A Mass MoCA residency is a place where -well, where they’re open to this!
Amidst all the fight coaching, drilling, and speaker set-up, there was the calming, beatific presence of the Mass MoCA staff, who were super-helpful (one performer said: “how can people be so nice?”), and hip to anything we wanted to try. Our first week was spent woodshedding upstairs in a rehearsal room, or downstairs in the massive Hunter Center. And when the piece came together for the final night, with two pieces, Mass and Time and Motion Study, we got a warm, sold-out reception.
During the residency, we made connections locally (an original Sprague Electric employee, who worked on the assembly line, talked to us about the factory aesthetic of Time and Motion Study), and in the area (I was interviewed by two area newspapers that I delivered as a young paper boy!). As a local boy, a residency gave me the illicit pleasure of seeing how MoCA works behind the scenes. We got backstage tours, and after a long day of musical drilling, nothing served us better than lying on a giant bean bag, and watching Jenny Holzer’s kaleidoscopic projections.