An original solo performance, “spit fire, drink gasoline (repeat),” created and presented by Levi Wilson ’21, will have its YouTube premiere on March 25 at 7:30 p.m., available to view anytime until April 25.
The event, which includes a Q&A with internationally acclaimed performance artist Tim Miller, is free and open to the public. Viewers should go to YouTube.com/CornellPMA to watch the event and Q&A.
“spit fire, drink gasoline (repeat)” is co-sponsored by the Cornell University Department of Performing and Media Arts; Haven, Cornell’s LGBTQ+ Student Union; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies; and Feminist, Gender & Sexuality Studies.
Tim Miller, whose celebrated performance art explores the artistic, spiritual, and political topography of his identity as a gay man, will give a response to ‘spit fire, drink gasoline (repeat)’ and situate the work within the larger history and artistry of American solo performance and LGBTQ+ theatre. Following this conversation between Tim, Levi, and moderator Professor Sara Warner, the discussion will be opened up to audience questions and responses.
Levi Wilson ’21 is a second-semester senior double-majoring in Performing and Media Arts and Feminist, Gender & Sexuality Studies. “spit fire, drink gasoline (repeat)” is the culmination of their honors thesis, providing a meditation on queer identity and trauma. In many ways, this solo piece is a marriage between their two areas of study, described as an ‘exploratory embodied exegesis.’ The performance promises around forty-five minutes of camp, commentary, and corporeality, posing the question, “What does it mean to perform gender, sexuality, and life, right or wrong?” In an effort to establish a conversation around performativity and authenticity, Levi constructs two distinct theoretical worlds, while placing forms of memory, trauma, and history into their body.
In the midst of a global pandemic, Levi has had to rethink various technical aspects of their show. Originally a solo piece that included moments of audience participation and heavy set design, the performance will now be presented pre-recorded over YouTube. However, instead of considering the shift a direct substitution for one medium over another, Levi hopes to combine the theatrical and cinematic into a hybrid form, noting that “queer sensibility itself is the pursuance of ‘and,’ and not ‘or’.”
Levi’s creative and technical team is made up of Taliyah Trueheart, Anastasia Kreisel, and Senior Lecturer Carolyn Goelzer, who have each brought their own expertise to the piece, be it cinematography or lighting design. Levi emphasizes the importance of collaboration within solo performance, noting that it can “be in a bit of a vacuum” and that “having someone there to see what you can’t see can be grounding.”
“‘spit fire, drink gasoline (repeat)’ is a ruminative, intimate exploration accompanied by sand and glitter. The performance is articulative and experimental, portraying the body as an element of multiplicity. “To be queer is to reject structure,” says Levi. “We are, as humans, projects.”