Kevin Holden and the co-conspirators at Horse Head Theatre Company are determined to shake up the status quo. To launch their inaugural season they have planned Ceremony, which will serve to train audiences members in the way of the Horse Head. Holden, a well known lighting and set designer, attended UT and UH, studying under the legendary Kevin Rigdon. He has designed for Main Street Theater, Stages Repertory Theatre and The Catastrophic Theatre among others. Holden schools us in Horse Head-ology.
29-95: What’s your hope for Horse Head Theatre Company?
Keven Holden: To bring theater back to its origins. It all began as ceremony. The Greeks took that idea to its highest point.
29-95: Following in the Greeks’ footsteps, not a bad start. What else got your thinking rolling?
KH: I started going to Mexican wrestling matches and noticed the level of participation in the audience. I began to wonder how we could get audiences to get that involved in what they are watching.
29-95: Like sports?
KH: Exactly. And FYI, there will be no shows on the days of UT games.
29-95: Bless you for that. So, you want the audience to hoot and holler?
KH: Yes, if it’s appropriate.
29-95: Audiences are used to sitting quietly on their butts these days.
KH: That’s why Ceremony also functions as an audience training session.
29-95: So we have to go to a Horse Head education camp?
KH: Yeah. Kind of. We want to re-invent the level of audience participation, and that’s going to take some doing.
29-95: Your first play, Adam Rapp’s apocalyptic and uber-intense Red Light Winter, opening in September, is hardly a play I would want anyone screaming through.
KH: Do people scream when the bases are loaded?
29-95: Good point. Besides sports, you mention the influence of Robert Edmond Jones, a big time theater thinker, on your website. He talked about the importance of how all aspects of production, such as sets and lights, advance the plot. How will Jones’ ideas manifest in your work?
KH: Mr. Jones lectured (even preached) about a theater that exists only in dreams, that truly awakens the full potential of the relationship between an audience and a theatrical experience. This is our prime directive, and we’ll begin creating this new relationship by following Robert Edmond Jones’ simple production design rules that mandate a truly collaborated and unified concept (as opposed to a traditional compartmentalized design approach).
29-95: The name Horse Head conjures that bloody bed scene from the The Godfather.
KH: I know people jump to that. That’s not it at all. It doesn’t mean anything. I just liked the name. It kind of sounds like an English pub.
29-95: Will beer be served?
KH: Yes, possibly sold in the aisles.
29-95: Will there be an actual horse head?
KH: It’s being built as we speak.
29-95: Can you give us a tiny teaser on what to expect in Ceremony?
KH: From 9 p.m. to midnight it should be an interesting evening of drinking and ambiance. At midnight, we’ll see an explosion of sensory input that should create a euphoric, primal, soul tempest.
29-95: The tag line reads, “exotic. altering. tantric. explosive.” Care to explain?
KH: These are words to describe passionate sex, a good art experience should be quite similar.
29-95: You have created this tremendous buzz and you actually haven’t done anything yet. Are you remotely nervous about pulling this all off?
KH: Tremendously so.
Horse Head Theatre Company presents Ceremony on July 31st. Doors open at 9 p.m.; Ceremony begins at midnight, the party lasts until 2 a.m., at Frenetic Theater, 5201 Navigation. Free.
Reprinted from 29-95.com