Since 1985 Penny Arcade has created a highly influential body of performance work with deep roots in the 1960’s New York Poets Theatre through her long association with member John Vaccaro of The Playhouse of The Ridiculous and poet playwright Kenneth Bernard. Penny’s work fuses poetry, memoir, journalism and oral history to create a powerful experience for the public not easily forgotten and deeply inspirational. On May 18th The Poetry Project will present Penny in a rare NY workshop that will include personal performance coaching while focusing on the tools of performance writing: Immediacy, authenticity, integrity and valor. This workshop is for you whether you are trying to create a full length evening work or just starting to find your voice. Penny’s workshops are never by rote, instead expect a workshop geared to the needs of the participants; equal parts masterclass and metaphysical midwifery. Bring a 5 minute fragment, an idea, or come empty handed. Everyone welcome.
Penny Arcade debuted in 1968 at 18 with New York’s explosive Play-House of the Ridiculous, the seminal, rock and roll, queer, glitter/glam, political performance theater that influenced everything from Hair to Punk to Bowie and beyond. She became a Warhol Superstar at 19 featured in the 1972 Warhol/Morrissey comedy, “Women in Revolt”.
She is the author of over 16 full length works and hundreds of solo performance pieces. She is that rare independent artist who has created a career over 50 years, contributing to new art forms for every decade since the 1960’s. A highly influential performance and experimental theatre artist whose magnetic stage presence has brought her international renown, her compassionate yet unflinching honesty has influenced generations of artists all over the world, making her an icon of artistic resistance.
Known for her highly quotable writing, her text based work is based on her poetic practice and has always focused on the other and the outsider, on individuality and authenticity. Her focus on community building as the goal of performance and performance as a transformative act marks her as an original on the world stage.
Since 1992 she has collaborated with former architect and video producer Steve Zehentner in all her theatre work and since 1999 they have co-helmed “Stemming The Tide Of Cultural Amnesia” The Lower East Side Biography Project that has broadcast weekly since 1999. The LES Biography Project is an oral history video project that interviews highly self individuated people, edits Penny the interviewer out and presents a one on one experience for the public with remarkable people, preserving fragile and marginalized histories.
Penny Arcade is also an essayist and cultural critic. Her writings have been published in numerous newspapers, journals and catalogs and book prefaces: Howl Happening, Film Culture, Found Object, Verses That Hurt, Please Kill Me (The Oral History of Punk), Out of Character, Raves, Rants and Monologues from America’s Top Performance Artists, Monologues for Women, Monologues for Cold Reading, Writing Your Own Monologues, PAJ Journal among others. Bad Reputation, a hard cover book on Penny’s work, was published by Semiotext(e)/MIT in 2010.