The Ubiquitous Mass of Us

Premiere June 14, 2014 New Hazlett Theater’s inaugural CSA Performance Series
Restaged for Mahaney Center for the Arts Performing Arts Series March 17-18, 2017
Created by 
Maree ReMalia in collaboration with the artists and performers
Original cast
David Bernabo, Joseph Hall, Taylor Knight, Paul Kruse, Adil Mansoor, Moriah Ella Mason, Maree ReMalia, Jil Stifel, and Anna Thompson
PAS cast David Bernabo, Joseph Hall, Taylor Knight, Zachary Lounsbury, Moriah Ella Mason, Maree ReMalia, Jil Stifel, Anna Thompson, Rachel Vallozzi
Sound Design 
David Bernabo
Set Design 
Blaine Siegel
Costume Stylist 
Rachel Vallozzi
Lighting Design 
Katie Jordan
Gaston Bachelard, Corydan Ireland, Deborah Jowitt, Nicole Krauss, Starhawk, Elizabeth Streb
Photo Credit for premiere 
Renee Rosensteel and Mr. Snap Photo
Photo Credit for Fresh Work-in-Progress 
Mark Simpson
Photo Credit for Tumblr page 
Paul Kruse
David Bernabo, Louis Cappa, Jeremy Fleischman, Paul Kruse
Video Editing Work-in-Progress 
David Bernabo & Maree ReMalia
Video Editing Performance Trailer 
Paul Kruse

The Ubiquitous Mass of Us is an evening-length, escalating journey where nine performers from across artistic disciplines question the bounds of their identities. Moving in and around the set designed by visual artist Blaine Siegel, they explore the way they take up space. Watch them bare a broad range of physicality and newly discovered expressions to an original sound score by David Bernabo. For all ages, seasoned performance goers, and those new to the theater.

We question the bounds of our identities and the way we take up space – Who are we as individuals? Who are we together? How far beyond what we conceive of ourselves can we go? What are the myriad ways in which we inhabit space? What are the visible and invisible boundaries we create? How are these questions impacted by and connected to contemporary issues in a larger context? Here, we bare the complexity of our individual and collective identities through a broad range of physicality and newly discovered expressions that explore the liminal zones and hard lines between.

Initially stemming from Maree’s personal experiences and inquiries related to divisions of land and inhabitation of living spaces and the ways in which our internal landscapes become storehouses of information, each performer has been invited to consider her/his personal experiences related to these topics through physical explorations, readings, and dialogue which has become source material for the piece.

*The Ubiquitous Mass of Us was created over three intensive rehearsal periods through the Kelly Strayhorn Theater Fresh Works Residency, PearlArts Studios Salon Series, and donation of in-kind rehearsal space at New Hazlett Theater (2013-2014). The project was supported by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, and The Heinz Endowments Small Arts Initiative. The presentation of The Ubiquitous Mass of Us at Mahaney Center for the Arts was made possible through generous support from the Performing Arts Series, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation/Movement Matters Residency, Middlebury Dance Program, Rothrock Family Fund for Experiential Learning in the Performing Arts, Hannaford Career Center, and New Hazlett Theater.

From Jane Vranish’s Pittsburgh Post Gazette review “Maree ReMalia | merrygogo adds Exclamation Point to Community Supported Art Series”:
Engagingly titled “The Ubiquitous Mass of Us,” this premiere seriously questioned “the bounds of our identities and the way we take up space.” But it was also symbolic of the creative process, where young artists have to learn to extend themselves, breaking down any barriers, both personal and communal, that might exist in producing a work of art. It was obviously a subject near and dear to the hearts of the performing collective, nine strong, including Ms. ReMalia herself, and so representative of the talent and breadth of the Pittsburgh arts scene. Their passion and commitment drove the choreography and the staging, which took full advantage of both trained dancers and movers for whom dance was a second (or third) language.”

photo by Renee Rosensteel

Find out more about the Ubiquitous collaborators on our Tumblr Page.

Process Materials:
Fresh Works Residency
View WIP excerpts from Kelly Strayhorn Theater’s Fresh Works Residency (11.13.13)

Images from WIP showing in PearlArts Studios Salon Series (3.13.14)
10006179_649684411746681_753727599_nphotos by Heather Baur

Trailer of the premiere (6.14.14)

Edited by Paul Kruse

4/29/13 | Inspiration 1
Excerpts from The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
p. 10-11
“My heart is weak and unreliable. When I go it will be my heart. I try to burden it as little as possible. If something is going to have an impact, I direct it elsewhere. My gut, for example, or my lungs, which might seize up for a moment but have never yet failed to take another breath. When I pass a mirror and catch a glimpse of myself, or I’m at the bus stop and some kids come up behind me and say, Who smells like shit?—small daily humiliations—these I take, generally speaking, in my liver. Other damages I take in other places. The pancreas I reserve for being struck by all that’s been lost. It’s true that there’s so much, and the organ is so small. But. You would be surprised how much it can take, all I feel is a quick sharp pain and then it’s over. Sometimes I imagine my own autopsy. Disappointment in myself: right kidney. Disappointment of others in me: left kidney. Personal failure: kishkes. I don’t mean to make it sound like I’ve made a science out of it. It’s not that well thought out. I take it where it comes. It’s just I notice certain patterns. When the clocks are turned forward and the dark falls before I’m ready, this, for reasons I can’t explain, I feel in my wrists. And when I wake up and my fingers are stiff, almost certainly I was dreaming of my childhood. The field where we used to play, the field in which everything was discovered and everything was possible. (We ran so hard we thought we would spit blood: to me that is the sound of childhood, of heavy breathing and shoes scraping the hard earth.) Stiffness of the fingers is the dream of childhood as it’s been returned to me at the end of my life. I have to run them under the hot water, steam clouding the mirror, outside the rustle of pigeons. Yesterday I saw a man kicking a dog and I felt it behind my eyes. I don’t know what to call this, a place before tears. The pain of forgetting: spine. The pain of remembering: spine. All the times I have suddenly realized that my parents are dead, even now, it still surprises me, to exist in the world while that which made me has ceased to exist: my knees…to everything a season, to every time I’ve woken only to make the mistake of believing for a moment that someone was sleeping beside me: a hemorrhoid. Loneliness: there is no organ that can take it all.”

p. 72-74
“The first language humans had was gestures. There was nothing primitive about this language that flowed from people’s hands, nothing we say now that could not be said in the endless array of movements possible with the fine bones of the fingers and wrists. The gestures were complex and subtle, involving a delicacy of motion that has since been lost completely.

During the Age of Silence, people communicated more, not less. Basic survival demanded that the hands were almost never still, and so it was only during sleep (and sometimes not even then) that people were not saying something or other. No distinction was made between the gestures of language and the gestures of life. The labor of building a house, say, or preparing a meal was no less an expression than making the sign for I love you or I feel serious. When a hand was used to shield one’s face when frightened by a loud noise something was being said, and when fingers were used to pick up what someone else had dropped something was being said; and even when the hands were at rest, that, too, was saying something. Naturally, there were misunderstandings. There were times when a finger might have been lifted to scratch a nose, and if casual eye contact was made with one’s lover just then, the lover might accidentally take it to be the gesture, not at all dissimilar, for Now I realize I was wrong to love you. These mistakes were heartbreaking. And yet, because people knew how easily they could happen, because they didn’t go round with the illusion that they understood perfectly the things other people said, they were used to interrupting each other to ask if they’d understood correctly. Sometimes these misunderstandings were even desirable, since they gave people a reason to say, Forgive me, I was only scratching my nose. Of course I know I’ve always been right to love you. Because of the frequency of these mistakes, over time the gesture for asking forgiveness evolved into the simplest form. Just to open your palm was to say: Forgive me.

If at large gatherings or parties, or around people with whom you feel distant, your hands sometimes hang awkwardly at the ends of your arms – if you find yourself at a loss for what to do with them, overcome with sadness that comes when you recognize the foreignness of your own body – it’s because your hands remember a time when the division between mind and body, brain and heart, what’s inside and what’s outside, was so much less. It’s not that we’ve forgotten the language of gestures entirely. The habit of moving our hands while we speak is left over from it. Clapping, pointing, giving the thumbs-up, for example, is a way to remember how it feels to say nothing together. And at night, when it’s too dark to see, we find it necessary to gesture on each other’s bodies to make ourselves understood.”

5/3/13 | Inspiration 2
Ohad Naharin’s new work, The Hole,7340,L-4361620,00.html

5/7/13 | Inspiration 3
Of Men, Women, and Space; News Harvard Gazette
“Issues of space and gender are not new. But the conference was intended to expand that discourse, she said. It brought up gender- and space-related issues of migration, non-Western perspectives on personal space, architecture, borders, sexual violence, and new digital communities that for better or for worse test gender’s meaning.
During the panel on interior space, Judith Donath, a Berkman Faculty Fellow at Harvard Law School, said the Internet has not lived up to the ideal that it would usher in a new age on post-gender space, in which men and women could roam freely without the burdens (or expectations) of gender identity.
For one, she said, the Internet is a place that people — suddenly bodyless — can lie about gender for excitement, comfort, or fun. But their words may betray them, said Donath. Men remain more aggressive in that arena of expression than women are.
Space is a battleground in the gender wars, in part because of a cultural norm accepted for centuries: Men filled up space like Zeus, and women like a quiet wraith.”

5/23/13 | Inspiration 4
Harvard Divinity School:  Permaculture and the Sacred:  A Conversation with Starhawk
Check the first few minutes of this video where Starhawk talks about “edges” and “ecotones” in permaculture and how “3rd systems” are often richer and allow for things to exist in between….”

8/1/13 | Inspiration 5
This blog post references The Poetics of Space:
Home is How You Make It”

8/10/13 | Inspiration 6
Thanks to cast member Jil Stifel, Gaston Bachelard’s Poetics of Space, will offer philosophical fodder for the work.
p. 6
“Daydreaming even has a privilege of autovalorization.  It derives direct pleasure from its own being.  Therefore, the places in which we have experienced daydreaming reconsitute themselves in a new daydream, and it is because our memories of former dwelling-places are relived as day-dreams that these dwelling-places of the past remain in us for all time.”

“Past, present, and future give the house different dynamisms, which often interfere at times opposing, at others, stimulating one another.”

p. 11
“I pointed out earlier that the unconscious is housed. It should be added that it is well happily housed, the space of its happiness.  The normal unconscious knows how to make itself at home everywhere, and psychoanalysis comes to the assistance of the ousted unconscious of the unconscious that has been roughly or insidiously dislodged.  But psychoanalysis sets the human being in motion, rather than at rest.  It calls on him to live outside the abodes of his unconscious, to enter into life’s adventures, to come out of himself…..Because we must also give an exterior destiny to the interior being.”

p. 12
“Thus we cover the universe with drawings we have lived.  These drawings need not be exact.  They need only to be tonalized on the mode of our inner space.  But what a book would have to be written to decide all these problems!  Space calls for action, and before action, the imagination is at work.  It mows and ploughs.  We should have to speak of the benefits of all these imaginary actions.”
“…the willingness of extroverted persons to exteriorize their intimate impressions.”

p. 13
“All we communicate to others is an orientation towards what is secret without ever being able to tell the secret objectively.”

8/23/13 | Inspiration 7
I like these moving set pieces in Nicole Wolcott’s 100 Beginnings:

Also these from Beth Ratas:
Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui

Anne de Keersmaeker

8/27/13 | Inspiration 8
In the news, mediated spaces, bodily representations and implications:
MTV Videos:  We Can’t Stop Blurred Lines

Articles on Miley Cyrus MTV Music Awards Video:
Solidarity is for Miley Cyrus, Jezebel

On Miley Cyrus, Ratchet Culture, and Accessorizing, Jezebel

Miley Cyrus and the Issues of Slut Shaming and Racial Condescension, Washington Post

9/8/13 | Inspiration 9
Some things that inspired me in New York:
Faye Driscoll’s work-in-progress showing of Thank you for Coming

Museum of the City of New York’s Exhibit Making Room

New Museum’s Exhibit of Ellen Gallagher Don’t Axe Me

Elizabeth Streb Company Rehearsal of The Human Fountain

Brooklyn Art Library’s The Sketchbook Project

Museum of Arts and Design Exhibits

9/9/13 | Inspiration 10
Jérôme Bel’s Pichet Klinchen and Myself  (from 70 min. on)

9/16/13 | Inspiration 11
Elizabeth Streb’s How to Become an Action Hero
inspired by Streb’s ideas of experience as a verb and ‘pop action’ and thoughts related to the “anti-tower arena” and the ways in which she invites diverse communities, embrace of distraction, and the stripping away the veneer of privilege, and questions she raises in regard to public vs. private and outside vs. inside in her life/artistic work.  people are always welcome to pop in and watch their rehearsals, they often have several things going on at once in their “studio” and they welcome cell phones, eating, etc.  some of this challenges what i am accustomed to in a process and i find value in “closed” intimate settings with my cast and at the same time i am curious about opening this “sacred” space a bit to invite interested people to observe.  i know it is impossible for observing eyes to not change what we are doing and i would want us to be able to maintain as much of a vulnerable, exploratory, go for it kind of space as if we were on our own.

p. 46  “Action shows are events, not presentations.  It is the difference between what you are actually doing or letting happen to your body, as opposed to what you are showing or presenting, which usually occurs in a more controlled or safe environment.”

p. 47  “Movement is an oral history, passed from one practitioner to another.  What can that body do?”

p. 56  “These stark beginnings taught me many things.  One of the conditions of personhood, especially critical for young women, is to not worry about the future, and certainly to not worry about yourself.  You have to risk everything at least once, dive into a new city with some but not a lot of money and, knowing no one, begin your life anew.  In a fundamental way, it’s about learning to take up a space.”

p. 68  “As noted in The Deleuze Dictionary, ‘Space is rich in potentiality because it makes possible the realizations of events.  A given image or concept, when ti is seen or engaged, creates and dissipates space in the time of its perception.  Space is something that is at the edges of language.  Deleuze calles the apprehension of space an ‘exhaustion’ of meaning.'”

10/8/13 | Inspiration 12
Formations and large ensembles…..
Ohio State University Marching Band

Poo Chae Choom, Korean fan dance

Super Junior K-Pop boyband, yes, they are all in the band…..
Girl’s Generation K-Pop girlband, yes, they are also all in the band….
12/8/13 | Inspiration 13
Anna Halprin’s Parades and Changes
Jee Young Lee
12/13/13 | Inspiration 14
Cool art installations…..
12/18/13 | Inspiration 15
Batsheva Dance Company’s in Deca Dance (from 44:17-end)
1/8/14 | Inspiration 16
Mapping Emotions on the Body
South Korea’s Hot Button Medium
2/14/14 | Inspiration 17
Thank you Jamie Boyle!  On Being:  Ann Hamilton – Making, and the Spaces We Share, Interview
“Where is it that we can gather and be alone together? There’s so much us/them and what are the circumstances for we that I can enjoy the pleasure of something I’m seeing here and knowing that I’m also sharing that with the person next to me and there’s an interesting kind of intimacy with this total stranger that the situation makes possible and that that can change your whole day.”
“How do we know what we know? What do we blind ourselves to? How the invisible affects us and how the visible can be veiled.”
“I want to bring to the surface the questions we need to be asking.”
What are those questions?  “How to be together?”
Thank you Jenny Johnson!  J. Jack Halberstam’s Gaga Feminism:  Sex, Gender, and the End of Normal
Gaga feminism is a politics that brings together meditations on fame and visibility with a lashing critique of the fixity of roles for males and females.  It is a scavenger feminism that borrows promiscuously, steals from everywhere, and inhabits the ground of stereotype and cliche all at the same time.  Gaga feminism is also a feminism made up of stutter steps and hiccups, as is clear in the world opened up in Telephone in both the music and the image:  the off-beat, flickering, humming aesthetic that the video creates depends upon the liveliness of objects in the Gagascape (and the intertia of the human bodies), and it creates a beat for Gaga that is best represented as a sonic form of hesitation.
Thank you Joseph Hall!  Beyonce’s Grown Woman….Choreography Elijah Wycoff
3/1/14 | Inspiration 18
North Korea and surrounding areas at night:
Thank you Adil Mansoor for introducing us to Jacey Lane Roberts
3/4/14 | Inspiration 19
Auld Lang Syne
4/1/14 | Inspiration 20
I feel a special kind of connection with this excerpt from Miranda July’s, The Future
5/3/14 | Inspiration 21
Interview on creative process & audience with theater director, Young Jean Lee.
5/7/14 | Inspiration 22
Yasmeen Godder’s Two
5/20/14 | Inspiration 23
Jiří Kylián discusses all ages dance and his new festival….
5/28/14 | Inspiration 24

Palestinian Woman Plants Flowers In Israeli Army Tear Gas Grenades

5/31/14 | Inspiration 25
Thank you Jil Stifel for sharing this article!
“I don’t want to make works, nor am I interested in works that purport an ethic. I like works that make you have to look at your own ethics around what’s going on in them. Dance just does that. Just male and female bodies on a stage is a storm of information. And it’s the same thing with race. So I’m trying to create ways for people to look at that without coming down and doing anything—shaking a finger or avoiding anything. Just letting it be very present to say, this is one of the avenues we’re looking at here. I like the complication it presents.” – Tere O’Connor
For full article click here.

6/4/14 | Inspiration 26
Young Jean Lee does it again…..’I don’t want to have to think about race’
Read this meaty article about her work The Shipment here.
Be tempted:  [In the first act of Young Jean Lee’s The Shipment, which makes its UK debut at London’s LIFT Festival on 10 June, an African American comedian bounds on to the stage as the crowd whoops and hollers. After several provocative jokes, he asks: “Why do black comedians still do those ‘White people are like this, black people are like that’ jokes? Well, I’ll tell you why,” he says. “White people be evil.”
But just when viewers are shifting uncomfortably in their seats, the comedian smiles. “Naw,” he says, “Most white folks ain’t evil – they just stupid.” Then the smile fades. “You think I enjoy talkin’ ’bout race? I wanna talk about poop.”]

Thank you Isaac. There are 10,000 galaxies in this image.