A Screening of BEFORE BACCHAE BEFORE Followed by a Talkback with Visiting Artists Mike Chin, Maxe Crandall, and Hope Mohr

On Tuesday, April 9, at 7:30 pm, the Department of Performing and Media Arts will welcome Mike Chin, Maxe Crandall, and Hope Mohr for a screening of their film Before Bacchae Before, followed by a discussion of their collaborative dance theater project Bacchae Before. Cornell scholars Sam Blake (PMA) and Cat Lambert (Classics) will join for the discussion. This project is an interdisciplinary, trans-centered response to Euripides' ancient tragedy, The Bacchae. Full event details below. 

BEFORE BACCHAE BEFORE situates Euripides' The Bacchae within a contemporary world of gender reveal parties as a form of Dionysian frenzy. Engaging puppetry, dance, and community ritual, the film pushes against the nostalgic conservatisms and political spectacles found in the rise of anti-trans legislation and related moral panics. The film was selected for the 2021 San Francisco Transgender Film Festival. 

BACCHAE BEFORE is a dance theater project that “distills and refracts a classical text of frenzy and filicide through a trans-centered, gender-affirming perspective.” – KQED Arts

Hope Mohr is a multidisciplinary artist working across performance, visual art, and language. Her work in dance, drawing, and fabric explores embodiment, feminism, gender, and queerness and conveys “emotional and socio-political contents that ride just underneath the surface of a rigorous vocabulary,” according to Dance View Times. She has made performance in traditional theatrical contexts, and also extensively in museums and galleries. Her work has been presented at performance venues throughout the U.S. In 2007, she founded Hope Mohr Dance (HMD), and in 2020, she co-stewarded the organization’s transition to a model of distributed leadership and a new name: Bridge Live Arts. Her book, Shifting Cultural Power: Case Studies and Questions in Performance, was published by the National Center for Choreography in 2020. Read more about her work.

Maxe Crandall is a poet, playwright, and director, and the Associate Director of the Program in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Stanford University. His work sits at the intersections of transgender studies and experimental poetics and performance. His performance novel about AIDS archives and intergenerational memory The Nancy Reagan Collection was on the New York Public Library’s Best 10 Poetry Books of 2020, LitHub’s 65 Favorite Books of 2020, and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in Transgender Poetry. He is the author of the chapbooks Emoji for Cher Heart and Together Men Make Paradigms; founder of the theater company Beautiful Moments in Popular Culture; and producer/curator of the 2024 San Francisco Poets Theater Festival. Read more about his work.

Mike Chin is a multidisciplinary artist, educator, writer, and historian, specializing in object performance and puppetry for live theatre and video. He is interested in how late ancient people imagined their world(s), and in the techniques they used--scientific, artistic, literary, religious--to more fully describe and inhabit the worlds that they imagined living in. His work explores different techniques that we can use, from literary composition to installation art to puppetry and object performance, in order to have a contemporary version of the kinds of imaginative experiences that late ancient people had. His book Life: The Natural History of an Early Christian Universe, will be published in 2024 by University of California Press. Read more about his work.

Screening of Before Bacchae Before + Talkback: Tuesday, 4/9, 7:30pm. Film Forum, Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts. 

The event is co-sponsored by the Society for the Humanities, the Department of Performing and Media Arts, the Department of History of Art and Visual Studies, the Department of Classics, the Department of Literatures in English, and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Studies Program. Free and open to the public.

Learn more about Bacchae Before

Watch a clip from Before Bacchae Before

Photo credit: Robbie Sweeny

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On left a person wearing a goat mask stands still. On right a person reaches towards the face of the person in the goat mask.
Photo credit: Robbie Sweeny