About this project
Help Say Something Bunny! open in NYC — special previews start May 5th, 2017 at a newly outfitted space in Chelsea. Planned run extends through July.
Kickstarter backers will be the first audience members and support the NYC public launch. Get an exclusive ticket to the enthralling, immersive live performance.
Tickets go on sale to the general public on May 5, 2017 at saysomethingbunny.com
Hooray! Thanks, to you early backers! WE MADE OUR GOAL!
But tickets are still available and we hope you'll join us.
There are two ways to get tickets through this campaign.
1) Back this campaign at above $45 and select a reward with a specific date and time for exclusive performances during the first weekends of previews. This also includes a post-performance reception. If these scheduled dates fill up, we will add more.
If you'd like more than one ticket to a specific date, just multiply $45 by the number of tickets (double, triple etc), pledge that, and chose your desired date as a reward, and we will attribute them accordingly (as available).
2) Back this campaign at above $25 (or two for $50) and select the reward to get a voucher code for a ticket when the campaign ends. You can then use this code to to book your ticket at no further cost online. We will deliver vouchers in batches, with early backers receiving their vouchers first.
Vouchers will be valid for the previews performances (as available) through May 21 as well as the general run which opens May 26 and should extend through the end of July.
With Say Something Bunny!, Alison S. M. Kobayashi and UnionDocs present an immersive and enthralling performance based on an amateur audio recording made over sixty years ago. The origin of this audio was a mystery. Two spools of thin steel wire were found tucked inside an obsolete sound device purchased by a collector at an estate sale. There were no labels; no dates, no names, and no context. Through her obsessive research and active imagination along with hundreds of hours listening through, Kobayashi decodes the rich dialogue and discovers the detailed history of an unforgettable Jewish family from New York that bursts with humor, surprise and drama. The one-woman show annotates, illustrates, and reconstructs the scenes of the recording, while revealing the stranger-than-fiction biography of the eldest son, David, whose teenage impulse to capture the voices of his family is the reason why the recording exists. Using video, installation, performance and archival material, Kobayashi leads the audience through a close listening, spinning “a multigenerational yarn of Rothian heights.”
Say Something Bunny! is an inventive performance for a small, intimate audience. It’s part of the concept and more fun that way. We are guessing you’ve never experienced something exactly like this, or heard a story told in this way.
We don't want to give away too much about the concept, but we can offer some clues about a couple elements created for the piece:
We designed and built a beautiful 14 foot circular table customized to the specific needs of this performance. It has six in-laid speakers, 9 video monitors, and many other hidden things! We had the talent and skill of friends who happen to be Toronto’s finest designers and carpenters who chipped in big time to make this thing for well below what it should have cost. We love this table. Come see it!
We also hand-assembled spiral bound books that the audience uses during the performance. They include text, illustration and archival research materials. To make them we needed two days and a veritable assembly line of talented design friends (Thanks Bartosz, Emma, Michal, Marlo Yarlo, & Chris). Each book is like a work of art.
Lastly, though based on an obsolete machine, Say Something Bunny! is quite technically rigorous. There are +1500 cues for lights, video, sound, live camera, and music, but the show can be run by one person. It’s crazy clockwork and you’ll want to witness it in action.
- The performance is 2 hours long with an intermission.
- It is installed at 515 W 20th street in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan.
- Evening performances start at 7:30pm, matinees at 2p. There is no late entry.
- Though not really participatory, it is a small audience and you’ll be seen by and aware of the other spectators.
- Do bring reading glasses, if you need them.
It’s an unconventional performance, with very unusual needs. After a successful run in Toronto, we were ready to bring the show to our friends, family and all art-loving folks in NYC. We didn’t want to get old waiting for the right opportunity to open up on a big art institution’s calendar. Plus, we couldn’t really share the piece effectively without actually performing it in front of an audience. Video documentation just didn’t cut it. Say Something Bunny! is 100% a live experience.
If only we could find a space, we thought, it would be much better to produce the performance ourselves. Well, we found an amazingly appropriate space at a convenient location in Chelsea, right next to the Highline, with a generous and cool landlord. Almost unbelievable, right? So, we crossed our fingers, and we dove right in.
We hope you’ll dive in with us.
The budget for bringing Say Something Bunny to NYC is over $25,000. We are hoping to cover a portion of these start-up costs through this campaign. We need your financial support through Kickstarter, so we’ll be able to:
- Get that table down from Toronto!
- Rent the space and outfit it with lights, chairs, stools, music stands, and more.
- Build an 18 ft curved wall with sound dampening that can also receive projection.
- Incorporate new gear to improve the audience experience.
- Make and rehearse changes to the show to accommodate new discoveries.
- Bring some people related to the recording to town to see the performance.
- Support press and publicity efforts to keep folks coming and extend the run.
In return, you get to be one of our first NYC audience members!
Alison Kobayashi (director, performer, co-author, co-producer) makes short videos and performances that have been exhibited widely in Canada, the United States and overseas. She was a guest artist at the 2008 Flaherty Film Seminar and her body of work was a Spotlight Presentation at Video Out, Jakarta International Film Festival, Indonesia and is a 2016 Yaddo and MacDowell Colony fellow. In 2012, she was commissioned by Les Subsistances in Lyon, France to produce her first live performance, Defense Mechanism. Alison S. M Kobayashi was born in Mississauga, Ontario and is based in Toronto and Brooklyn, NY where she is the Director of Special Projects at UnionDocs.
Christopher Allen (co-author, co-producer, dramaturgy, technical design) is a producer/director of documentary media projects and a programmer of multi-disciplinary events. He co-founded UnionDocs, a Center for Documentary Art in Brooklyn, and has been responsible for the organization’s growth from grassroots as the Executive Artistic Director. He has initiated many collaborative projects, uniting the creative efforts of hundreds of artists, documentary makers and communities including Living Los Sures, Documenting Mythologies, Capitol of Punk and Yellow Arrow. In addition to Say Something Bunny!, Christopher collaborated with Alison on Defense Mechanism and other performances.
Bartosz Gawdzik (Design), Michał Dudek (Design & Build), Steve Espinola (Wire preservation and research contributor), Richard Perri (Design & Build), Sarah Lerner (Associate producer), Jenny Miller (Communications), Amanda Angel (Publicity), LynnAnn Klotz (Legal).
Say Something Bunny! is grateful to the many friends who have made Say Something Bunny! possible: Kim Simon, Marlo Yarlo, Sam Cotter, Gary Hall, Nicole Cropley, Alison Cooley, Erin Kobayashi, Emma Wright, George Kobayashi, Eleanor Kobayashi, George Nakamura, Alice Nakamura, Scott Norkin, Michael Petrucelly, Elizabeth Wollman, Eric Lippe, The UnionDocs team and board.
Say Something Bunny! was originally created for a solo exhibition curated by Kim Simon at Gallery TPW , one of most respected artist-run centres in Canada. It was made possible with funds from the Canada Council for the Arts, NYSCA, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, Brooklyn Arts Council, Yaddo, The MacDowell Colony, Gendai Gallery, AbelCine, Norkin Digital and UnionDocs Center for Documentary Art.
I collect curious recordings, handwritten notes, and perplexing objects, usually things with origins unknown. For the last ten years, I’ve been creating videos and performances that reimagine these unusual found narratives through equal parts research and imagination.
For instance, I have a collection of about seventy tapes from answering machines that were donated to thrift shops. On one of these, I found an incredible series of messages, which became the soundtrack for a video, I made in 2006 called DAN CARTER. In it, I interpret the voices on the tape, creating characters and revealing complicated relationships and hidden stories embedded in the audio.
Another time, I found a love letter from one 14 year old to another near an highway underpass. That became the script for the video FROM ALEX TO ALEX.
Those were my first two works using this method, and I’ve made many more since.
But I’ve never encountered a found recording like what I heard on those two spools of wire. It captured me completely. I hope it will capture you too!
Follow Alison on Instagram @asmkobayashi.
Get behind-the-scenes photos & updates about the campaign via Kickstarter by backing this campaign.
Risks and challenges
No matter how much we try, the description and documentation cannot reproduce the spectator experience of Say Something Bunny! So we hope that you’ll trust us when we say, "the less you know coming in, the better". We are not giving away too much in the Kickstarter. We also hoping the positive things said by those who have experienced it will double that trust.
The good thing is that we were able to overcome some of the largest project hurdles from when we first presented the piece in Toronto: building a massive 14’ circular table, transporting said table 500 miles to NYC, learning and programming new performance software for the first time, and going into the performance unsure if the audience would respond to the piece. Luckily for us, our belief that intelligent and imaginative audiences would be attracted to Say Something Bunny! was confirmed by the 200 people who attended the Gallery TPW presentation.
While many performance spaces have a large capacities for audiences, Say Something Bunny! is specially designed for a small audience, creating a unique and intimate experience. That means we have to perform 8-10 times the number of shows to share the work with the same amount of people that an average theater would hold. We need to present the show for a longer run and rent the space for a greater duration, which means higher production costs. Luckily, only two people can make this happen, making the rest of the overhead reasonable. Also, the show requires a minimum audience of 16. From time to time, depending on demand, we anticipate needing to shuffle audiences or reschedule if we don’t reach that number.
The show is quite technically rigorous, so to compensate for the time required to reprogram the audio and visual queues in the show we’ve given ourselves a month to install, rehearse and troubleshoot technical hiccups. Christopher and I have been working together for the past five years so we’ve been able to estimate how many consecutive 16 hour days we can pull off (Christopher 12, Alison 7.5) and when days of rest are in order.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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