NON:op's immersive platform for virtual performance
volume 1:4

Please Join Us
as we investigate alternative futures
through music, poetry, performance, and observation

A note from NON:op's founder ...
L's GA
Finding Our Way
Welcome to NON:op's September issue of NON:onLINE!
In 2012 I invited a number of friends—musicians, theatre folks, visual artists, etc.—whose work I respected or with whom I collaborated, to a kickoff meeting of a new organization. NON:op Open Opera Works was founded by a group of artists the following year to subvert outdated notions of hierarchy and control, to challenge conventions of linearity and narrative, to undermine the norms of time, space, performer, and audience—to create large-scale, immersive, audience-directed work created by collaborators who worked as equal co-creators—not on proscenium stages, but in warehouse spaces, alleys, galleries, and atriums. Two years later we began embracing urgent social issues in our programming, creating multi-disciplinary projects around immigration, women’s rights, disability, and seeking out diverse artists and program partners.
Recently we realized that something was wrong. Although we were committed to creating non-hierarchical and non-linear works, we had accepted completely conventional organizational structures and inequalities embedded in conventional presentations. We had been privileging the artist, to bestow gifts on audiences and spectators, and we retained firm control of the maker-receiver relationship, even while we professed to break down the barriers of inequality. We were operating within a very privileged, hierarchical and colonial framework.

Recently we realized that something was wrong.

Newly aware of these contradictions, of our role in sustaining structural privilege, and of the racist and economic divisions intrinsic to our culture, we are changing the organization to remove hierarchies based on personhood and to confound distinctions between makers and receivers. We want to hear all voices, all points of view, and to value all contributions equally.
We have reached a point in NON:op’s history—and in the culture in which it is embedded—that demands that we accept these challenges. So, in response to the pandemic, to the racism, hatred, and bigotry that have been intrinsic to our culture, to a government that has failed to lead, and with the technology and tools at our disposal, we are preparing to transition from a hierarchical organization that provides art experiences to audiences to a truly non-hierarchical organization that hosts a platform for expression and equality among all who care to participate.

• • •

As part of this transition we introduce The Memory Project, a programming initiative rooted in providing a platform for diverse and unheard voices to be heard. The four programs that are part of this initiative are:
Blood Lines - SAY THEIR NAMES, an online version of the 2019 installation in which you can say the names of those killed in the 1919 Chicago race riot, and a new online installation in which you can say the names of other Black persons killed by law enforcement since 1919.
The Gas Heart, a video version of Tristan Tzara’s 1921 classic Dada play—a revolt against the bankrupt culture and structures of post-war Europe—that invites participants to contribute TikTok videos.
American Biography, a shared digital archive dedicated to gathering diverse and unheard experiences with America. Submit words, sounds, still or moving images, in any combination.
L’s GA: Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, an updated production in which you create your own performance of Salvatore Martirano’s 1967 anti-war classic that asks the question, “What masks are you forced to wear?"
Where we are going is not where we have been, and as we find our way, we will make mistakes. We must think, act, fail, and start again if we are to create new habits, new ways of being, and achieve our goals. We do not wish to merely trade the existing control structure for another, to pass the same hierarchies from one group to another; we wish to eliminate privilege and reduce our reliance on structural hierarchy altogether. Over the course of many years, and through the difficult process of trial and error, I’ve learned that leading and serving are closely related. Indeed, one who leads is sometimes said to be of service to others. What can we do to serve others, and what can we do as a society to serve each other? This is the next developmental stage for NON:op Open Opera Works.

• • •

It has now been more than six months since COVID-19 began. More than three months since George Floyd stopped breathing. Three years since our government began separating families at the border. And decades and generations of discrimination, abuse, and killing, now newly fueled by Trump and his enablers. Whatever happens in November—and I hope that Biden is elected, and saner minds prevail—there will be more bloodshed. There will be more protests, more riots in the streets. There will be martial law. There will be federal troops in our cities, and right-wing militias “protecting” businesses and neighborhoods, intimidating anyone who doesn’t share their beliefs. This is what our president wants. This is what his supporters and his political party wants. This is how he and his sycophants prove that they are men, that they are strong, that they are not bankrupt. I don’t make these predictions because I want them to happen. I make them because they will happen, and to be of service to each other we need to be prepared.
We want to hear all voices, all points of view,
and to value all contributions equally.

NON:op Open Opera Works is an organization that I started; others followed. Now it must be restarted, by others, and we will try to follow. What is NON:op? Is it music, opera, performance, theatre, art, writing, video, technology? Who can say? But I am committed to this: NON:op is non-hierarchical, and we are all its leaders. On our own, we have no solutions, no authority, no map to a better society. Now is the time, collectively, to search for answers, to search for meaning, to make something... TOGETHER. NON:op is a platform, NON:op is for everybody, NON:op is for all of us to lead and all of us to follow.
Welcome to NON:op. Let us know how we can serve our common cause together.

• • •

[ COLLABORATE ] L's GA: Lincoln's Gettysburg Address

concept by Salvatore Martirano, video by Ronald Nameth
Kameron Locke as the gas-masked politico in a clip from his response to L’s GA
The NON:op project, L’s GA: Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, invites you to interact with Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and with Sal Martirano’s 1967 anti-war classic, L’s GA. In Martirano’s work, Lincoln’s words were buried—almost irretrievably—by an onslaught of images, sounds, masks, and distortions. They became at once the empty bombast uttered by a puppet leader—part fascist, part clown—and visceral, bodily screams of rage against the slaughter in Vietnam, the suppression of dissent, the abuse of women, the oppression of minorities and the dispossessed; against war games, pornography, blind prejudice, and empty, meaningless clichés of beauty.
A literally “gas-masked politico” delivered Lincoln’s text, cavorting and blustering, with a voice that was distorted by helium pumped into his lungs, administered by a cartoonish nurse. The text itself was dismembered, interrupted, repeated, transformed into cheers and slogans, and reduced eventually to vacant shouts of blah, blah, blah.
L's GA protested against a government that drafted young men—especially African-American men—as cannon-fodder for American imperial dreams; that incarcerated, deported, or killed Black Panthers and other activists for daring to assert that persons really are created equal; that poured billions of dollars into war machinery and the firms that built it; that enabled cities and cultures, home and abroad, to be destroyed in the name of safety and security.
a single frame from Ronald Nameth's three film composite for Martirano's L’s GA
You are invited to respond to Lincoln’s text and Martirano’s piece—and to blogs and comments by others—to explore how they might be viewed, used, remixed, or repurposed in today’s world.
You can comment on an existing blog post or you can write a new one.
You can submit documents about the Gettysburg Address—a photograph, a recording, an object, a text—or about L’s GA.
You can create a new performance or (re)composition in response to Martirano's piece. NON:op is commissioning new responses and if you are interested in creating a new work, please apply using the application form available on the NON:op L's GA Participate page. At present NON:op is able to grant two commissions, one of which has already been awarded (click on the video link above). If you would like to be considered for the second commission, please apply by November 1, 2020. A decision will be announced by November 10, and the completed work is due January 1, 2021.
Detailed information may be found on our L's GA: Lincoln's Gettysburg Address page. If you have questions, please first consult the NON:FAQS. If you have questions, please write William (Bill) Brooks at bill [at] nonopera [dot] org or Christophe Preissing at non [at] nonopera [dot] org.

• • •

[ PARTICIPATE ] in American Biography

Our American Biography is useful knowledge for the future history we are making now.
Lynette Quek's filtered/media, the first item in the American Biography Archive
American Biography is inspired by Gertrude Stein's American Biography: Why Waste It? from her book, Useful Knowledge.
NON:op invites you to participate in building a shared online American Biography.
American Biography's collection has begun with a first contribution.
An open, digital archive, American Biography is intended to grow as an ongoing, living, collection of personal histories, stories, and memories—as writings, images, videos, sound, or any combination—a place to hold individual, specific, personally-remembered experiences.
American Biography is dedicated to gathering diverse experiences with America, by people living in America, visiting America, or who are experiencing America from outside America. We are beginning the project with histories focused on experiences of missing voices—of sounds we can no longer hear.
We invite you to contribute your experience with America using one or any combination of these electronic media:
• writing
• poetry
• video
• image(s)
• audio
Whether you:
live in America
• are visiting America
• are experiencing America from outside America
Begin with what you remember:
What have you not heard?
What voices—whose voices—have you not heard?
Whose voices did you not hear?
Whose voices did you miss hearing?
Whose voices could you not hear?
With your permission, we will publish your work as an addition to American Biography.
Individual contributions will be independently displayed and available for viewers to experience as independent items. Altogether they will form an evolving, collective, dynamic, virtual mosaic, displayed, as it grows, in NON:op’s American Biography Archive.
Want to contribute your American Experience, or do you have questions American Biography? Please contact: ann [at] nonopera [dot] org
Read more of Gertrude Stein’s words about listening: “they do not listen to hear” in American Biography: Why Waste It? on page 166 of her book Useful Knowledge.
Our American Biography is useful knowledge for the future history we are making now.

• • •

[ PARTICIPATE ] in Blood Lines

Video Readings due September 21

Blood Lines, Henry Goodman
Blood Lines, Henry Goodman, Ronald Browne (reader)

Blood Lines, Thomas Joshua
Blood Lines, Thomas Joshua, Saba Ayman Nolley (reader).
NON:op is currently seeking a diverse group of readers for an online re-creation of our 2019 Blood Lines installation. During this time of social distancing and cultural change we invite you to participate in this project by video recording yourself reading the name of one or more persons killed in the 1919 uprising. Readings will be combined with sound from the 2019 installation at Augustana and a video featuring maps, historical newspaper accounts, a timeline, and neighborhood images.
The deadline for submitting videos is Monday, September 21. For more information please visit the Blood Lines – SAY THEIR NAMES project page on our website.
In October, we will begin to post a list of names for the SAY THEIR NAMES project, a second larger online installation that invites participants to record themselves reading the names and details of Black persons killed by law enforcement since 1919. This installation will grow as more names are added to the database. Once names are posted you may select and record yourself reading from this list.
Ron Browne—one of the original Blood Lines readers—is compiling a list of Black persons killed by law enforcement since 1919. If you would like to contribute to the database, or to assist Ron with this important research, please contact us at non [at] nonopera [dot] org.
Visit the SAY THEIR NAMES participation page for more information.

• • •

[ PARTICIPATE ] in The Gas Heart

The conversation is getting rather boring, isn't it?
But yes but yes but yes but yes but yes but yes
The Gas Heart, Act 1, TikTok video 1 - "Isn't It?"
The Gas Heart, Act 2, TikTok video 3 - "The Best Words"
The Gas Heart invites your participation with short TikTok videos. Tristan Tzara's 1921 three-act Dada play resists both the art and conventions of theater AND the bankrupt culture and society in post-war Europe. With Trump and his enablers—the ultimate bankrupt grifters—in charge, The Gas Heart is once again relevant. One can easily imagine these banalities coming from our commander in chief: "I have an American hairdo." "Your daughter is quite charming." "Do you care for sports?" "You know, of course, that I own a garage."
Here's where you come in... Do you TikTok? We do!!
In this time of political depravity, you are invited to submit TikTok videos for our Gas Heart video production. We will post six videos—two per act—on TikTok (search for nonopera) and on YouTube (links are on our website). Consider submitting a video an act of resistance, a political statement, your American duty.

[ UPDATE ] TGH Recording Session!The Gas Heart Recording Session

Act 1 of The Gas Heart video will be released in early November. On August 21, SITE/less hosted a socially distanced recording session of The Gas Heart incidental music with ESS's Alex Inglizian at the controls. Big thanks to musicians Alexandria Hill, violin; Lilianna Wosko, cello; Natalie Szabo, clarinet; Chris Misch, trombone (+ slide whistle), and Steve Butters, percussion. It was a hot and wild evening of dodging the Metra sounds, and Christophe and Theo are excited to get to work assembling the audio and video of Act 1.

• • •


Illinois Humanities recently awarded NON:op a CARES Act Emergency Relief Grant for general operating support. Illinois Humanities activates the humanities through free public programs, grants, and educational opportunities that foster reflection, spark conversation, build community, and strengthen civic engagement. Illinois Humanities is a nonprofit organization and the state’s affiliate for the National Endowment for the Humanities.

• • •

Part Time Opportunity
Web Developer/Designer – NON:op is seeking a web designer to take our website to the next level. The Web Designer will work with the Social Media assistant to integrate Social Media and email platforms with our NON:onLINE immersive platform for virtual performance. Qualified applicants will have proficiency in video hosting, live streaming, online interactivity, and Zoom, and they will have demonstrated organization skills, the ability to manage multiple projects, a willingness to take direction and the technical ability to create a website that supports NON:op’s vision and goals. Please contact non [at] nonopera [dot] org to be considered for this position.

• • •

Board and Artist Opportunities
Do you support NON:op's mission? Do you enjoy immersive performances that are fun AND intellectually challenging? Want to become more involved? Join our board and artist team as we build a more diverse and nimble organization to respond to these critical times. Please contact Christophe at non [at] nonopera [dot] org for more information.

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SUPPORT NON:op by purchasing HPSCHD@50 merch!

Also available are Musicircus T-Shirts, John Cage CDs, HPSCHD@50 buttons, and souvenir programs. Click here to order and support NON:op and its artists.
Thank you for taking care of each other by staying indoors and practicing social distancing.
We hope you and yours are well and staying safe as we create an alternative future.
Christophe, Ann, Bill, Theo, Joshua, Saba, and the rest of NON:op's Artists and Board of Directors
If you are able to support NON:op's artists and mission, please donate today.
All donations are tax deductible. Thank you.  
Copyright © 2020 NON:op Open Opera Works, All rights reserved.

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