Kaneza Schaal creates and directs original theater works. Steeped originally in the American avant-garde and experimental performance, she has shaped an expansive practice that invokes many languages – historical, experiential, formal, cultural, and aesthetic – that purposely speak to many different people. Participating in and promoting artistic exchange rooted in diasporic and indigenous thought, she regularly collaborates with international makers working in diverse genres. Her work has been performed in wide ranging contexts, from New York City squats and courtyards in Vietnam, to European opera houses, rural auditoriums in the United Arab Emirates, and outdoor amphitheaters in East Africa.

Schaal thinks of her projects as essays -- considerations of a question or idea; each piece becomes an expression of this sustained inquiry. Anchored in extensive research, and drawing from vast source material (…artists Ruth Azawa and Agnes Martin, 4,000-year-old Egyptian funerary texts, late 19th century African American dance pageantry, Muhammed Ali, Duchamp’s readymades…) she has examined mourning rituals, how the state steals dreaming, and re-entering society after prison. Viewing theater as a model for participatory society, Schaal seeks to expand both theatre’s and the United States’ imagination of itself.

“When I create performances, my experiments are not only ‘in the room,’ I also work ‘in the frame,’ in how theater is made and how it lives in the world.”


photo: Rolex/Bret Michiels