Perhaps you remember Tiresias from your high school reading of Oedipus. Known for his clairvoyance, Tiresias understood the mad king’s fate even if Oedipus did not. Tiresias pops up in other mythological settings, and now he’s appearing in a queer, drag form for a series of shows at The Brick in Williamsburg.
Greenpointers: A “drag cabaret about the proliferation of matter in the universe and life on planet Earth” sounds really, really cool. What is the origin for this piece?
Evan Silver/Tiresias: The inception of the piece was actually an article about a medical condition called hyperphantasia, which refers to an apparent over-abundance of mental imagery. As a visually impaired artist in the process of losing my sight, I have become obsessed with the question of inner vision. So it sparked the question, what vision did I have to share? And I envisioned an extravagant and ecstatic queer utopia whose laws were proliferation and abundance and whose gods were quarks and ancestral bacteria. HYPERFANTASIA became a nonfiction creation myth whose world of fantasy and wonder was our own.
Tiresias’ beginnings feel as cosmic and stellar as the Big Bang itself. How did you develop this persona?
I have long been fascinated by myth, and that fascination has been the foundation for most of my theatrical work. After I was diagnosed with a degenerative eye condition, I became enchanted with Tiresias, the blind prophet of Greek mythology who lived as both a man and a woman. Tiresias was this deliciously liminal figure, a blind visionary who transgressed all the boundaries and the binaries — between gods and mortals, the living and the dead, man and woman, blind and seeing. So Tiresias has been my attempt at alchemizing a degenerative circumstance into a source of generative power.
You start at the Brick and then head to Ant Fest at Ars Nova; honestly the ideal queer edgy theater pipeline. What are you most excited about during this upcoming month?
Yes! I am here for the queer edgy theater pipeline. I am excited to reach new audiences and to invite new creatures into the strange metaphysical universe that is HYPERFANTASIA. The nature of the thing is to proliferate — like the universe and life itself — so I am eager to let the show swirl and expand and maybe even spread like bacteria just beyond the edges of the universe, where nothing and nowhere will soon become something and someplace. I am hopeful too for glimpses of the utopian shared in theatrical space-time.
There are a number of guest stars joining you; can you discuss their role and how they were curated?
HYPERFANTASIA is a world of abundance and inexplicable variation, so it felt only natural to invite a menagerie of special guests who embody these principles in various ways. It was important to curate artists across a range of disciplines — we’ve got lush live music, queer butoh, swamp creature burlesque, high concept drag, alien performance art, and more — to emphasize the fact that HYPERFANTASIA does not look like any one particular thing, and can be home to an infinity of weird and wonderful critters.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I will be selling merchandise at the show! I hand screen-printed shirts, tote bags, and posters at the Chicago Printmakers Collaborative; the gorgeous design was a gift from the lovely Tobias Burraway. Shirts are $20, tote bags are $15, and posters are $10.