EXCLUSIVE: Jess Dobkin + Erika Hennebury

Dobkin dishes everything she’s got in five awesome answers. 

In the mayhem of last minute rehearsals and meetings Rhubarb Festival Director, Erika Hennebury, found a quiet moment to chat with Rhubarb Poster Girl Jess Dobkin.

EH: What was the impetus for Everything I’ve Got and what does showing ‘everything you’ve got’ mean for your future work?

JD: The piece was initially provoked by the loss of a friend, whose untimely death encouraged me to dig deeper into questions about artistic process and mortality. I’ve always felt extreme urgency about my many creative ideas that might not get realized. I never feel trust in a sense of future, so I create each new work with a clear understanding that it could be my last. “Everything I’ve Got” is very much about the present moment of live performance. I love this about live performance – that while it can speak to a past and future time, it is firmly rooted in real time and space.

EH: How do you see the yourself as an artist and as a queer in relationship to the unicorn?

JD: There’s a fable that explains the unicorn’s extinction being due to its failure to board Noah’s ark during the flood. I’m compelled by this story and its unanswered questions – why it did not to follow, why it failed to board. The unicorn can symbolize many things – but certainly as an artist, a queer, an outcast, a singular, sexual beast. And the unicorn relates to questions I have about performance – about the ways that performance might or might not exist in consciousness and in memory.

EH: How do you feel about the territory between theatre and performance art and where in that spectrum do you see your own practice?

JD: I thoroughly embrace the murky waters of these definitions. I identify as a performance artist because my practice stems from a visual art background and takes place in real space and time. While theatre suspends our sense of real space and time, performance art understands the performer and audience to be bonded in a shared experience of the here and now. I like to play with these boundaries by creating work that explores fantasy and alternate realities while keeping at least one foot planted in real time and space.

EH: How has working with Stephen Lawson of 2boys.tv effected your process?

JD: I have long admired Stephen’s work, and collaborating with him and the rest of the creative team has been pure pleasure. They have all brought their fantastic energy and talent to the project. And Stephen has brought tear-away clothing to my practice, something I now can’t live without.

EH: Do you feel that your vagina is a miniature stage?

JD: Absolutely. It’s my own portable black box theatre.

Everything I’ve Got runs Feb 24-28, 8pm. The Chamber. For more information about the Rhubarb Festival line-up click here.