Welcome Failure

Welcome Failure

Failure holds an absurd place in the popular American imagination. It makes the central subject of countless self-help books. Entire conferences get dedicated to overcoming rejection, while error is accepted as a necessary precursor to knowledge in science or success in business. For artists, however, a punishing economy puts relentless pressures on creative experiment, encouraging conformity and failsafe choices.

All theatre fails in some way. Between artistic intentions and their realization on stage we often see a gap. Theatre and dance come into a special kind of life when things go wrong, alerting us to a form’s limits and unexpected potential.

Queer artists have long incorporated tropes of failure into their aesthetics. Questions about rejection and authenticity have historically featured in African-American and other culturally specific theater traditions. And a long and distinguished history of avant-gardes have embraced, exploited, and expanded this chasm between idea and result—from Samuel Beckett, Richard Foreman, the Wooster Group, Goat Island, Chris Burden and Yvonne Rainer to ERS, Sibyl Kempson, Ralph Lemon, and today’s newest artists.

For PRELUDE 2016, we wanted to invite our creative community to talk and think about spaces of failure—in the studio, in lifelong evolutions, in the support systems and in our nation at this deeply political moment. We wondered: What opportunities does failure open up, if judgment is removed? Unexpected perspectives, adventure, reinvention? Resilience and greater care? Political resistance? Change and improvement?

We’re especially pleased to welcome Matthew Goulish to this year’s festival, who shares with PRELUDE audiences his longtime artistic research project The Institute of Failure (co-founded with Tim Etchells). And above all, we look forward to seeing new projects, celebrating artists’ talents and perseverance, and enjoying the company of friends. With so much ambition and adventure in the
works, we hope to discover failure together.

—Antje Oegel and Tom Sellar, PRELUDE2016 Curators


Wednesday, October 5 – Friday, October 7, 2016
The Martin E. Segal Theatre Center at The Graduate Center, CUNY is pleased to present the thirteenth annual PRELUDE Festival. Dedicated to artists at the forefront of contemporary New York City theatre and performance, PRELUDE 2016 features an array of artists working in theatrical and interdisciplinary performance. The festival gives audiences and artists a survey of the current New York moment via in-process performances, conversations, presentations, and workshops—all completely free and open to the public

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @preludeNYC and join the conversation using #prelude16!

We livestream many of our events. Please visit theSegalCenter.org/Home.