Tag Archives: Poor Dog Group


Jessica Emmanuel presents ‘kwirē/, a new solo, multimedia dance work that “considers a dystopian world where the majority of historical and ancestral information has been destroyed.”

The wealthy have left the planet and few humans survived. A dance and sound retrieval system has been created to help us restore our connection to our memories and the history that is stored in our DNA. Guided by Emmanuel’s ancestors, she gathers and collects information, nurtures the soil and roots that are used to restore the earth for those left behind.* 

Filmed on the REDCAT stage and available to watch this week online, the work takes place in a sculptural installation created in collaboration between Emmanuel and Trulee Hall.

See link below for details.



Thursday and Friday, March 4 and 5.

8:30 pm on the West Coast, 11:30 pm East Coast.

Saturday, March 6.

5 pm on the West Coast, 8 pm East Coast.

From top: Jessica Emmanuel, ‘kwirē/; Emmanuel in Reflections of the Vastness Within at The Chronicles of LA: Chapter 2: Self, 2018; Emmanuel in Trilogy: Witnessing Her + Decolonize That Mind + Proliferation of Joy, Teatr Studio, Warsaw, 2018; Emmanuel in Poor Dog Group, Dionysia (aka Satyr Atlas), Getty Villa, 2011.


The texts of Richard Foreman—founder of The Ontological-Hysterical Theater—have long been a defining influence on the work of performance artist, director, and Poor Dog Group co-founder Jesse Bonnell.*

As part of Week Three of Redcat’s NEW ORIGINAL WORKS FESTIVAL 2019, Bonnell presents PARADISE ISLAND, “a new work of theater that compresses a decade of writing into an evening-long performance. We are giving new life back into what could soon be forgotten texts of downtown loft-era performance throughout the ’70s.”

Based on Foreman’s writings from 1973 to 1983, PARADISE ISLAND is “part retrospective, part future-bending reinvention, [bringing] new life to one of America’s most influential experimental artists.”*

Also on the bill at Redcat: Austyn Rich’s BL**DY SPAGHETTI, and Source Material’s new music-theater work A THOUSAND TONGUES, performed by Nini Julia Bang and directed by Samantha Shay.


Thursday through Saturday, August 8, 9, and 10.

All shows at 8:30 pm.


631 West 2nd Street, downtown Los Angeles.

Top: Jesse Bonnell. Jesse Bonnell, Paradise Island, August 8, 2019, Redcat, from top: Brad Culver (foreground left); SarahJeen François (left) and Gabriella Rhodeen (2); Alex Barlas (left) and Culver; Pricilla Jin Chung (2); Barlas (left), François, Chung, and Rhodeen; Barlas and Rhodeen; Culver (3); performance; François; Rhodeen and Chung. Performance photographs by Vanessa Crocini (14). Images courtesy and © the photographers, the artists and performers, and Redcat.


In April 2015, various members of Poor Dog Group began regular sessions with a licensed therapist, working through some of the issues and questions that invariably come up during the span of a ten-year collaboration.

Sixteen hours of tapes from the sessions—which also covered marriage, divorce, blowups, and alcoholism—have been used to create GROUP THERAPY, a performance piece utilizing different sets of audio prompts each night, changing with each show.

Group members scheduled for the four-performance run at UCLA this week include Jonny Ahmanson, Jesse Bonnell, Brad Culver, Andrew Gilbert, Adam Haas Hunter, Jesse Saler, and Cat Ventura Ahmanson.


Thursday through Saturday, January 11, 12, and 13, at 8 pm.

Saturday, January 13, at 3 pm.

Little Theater at MacGowan Hall, UCLA

245 Charles E Young Drive East, Los Angeles.

Poor Dog Group, Group Therapy, 2017. Image credit: Poor Dog Group and CAP UCLA.


It’s been ten years since Poor Dog Group first took to the boards at Redcat with their short piece “Hey Hey Man Hey.” Since then they’ve created seven major works—The Internationalists, Atreus, Brewsie and Willie, Dionysia (aka Satyr Atlas), Murder Ballad 1938, Five Small Fires, and now GROUP THERAPY, presented next week at MacGowan Hall by the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA.

Earlier this month, Jesse Bonnell—Poor Dog’s lead writer and director—sent PARIS LA a short text describing the troupe’s early days in Los Angeles:

“We were about to graduate from CalArts and knew that we wanted to make our own live performances as a form of disobedience, a kind of goofy anarchy to the obligatory ‘what’s next’ question that daunts art school students as they start to receive loan payment notifications.

“In the first year we made a handful of small shows and silly videos. One of the pieces we made—’Hey Hey Man Hey,’ developed by Jonney Ahmanson and me while we were living together in Atwater—eventually became our first evening-length work. It was presented at Redcat in 2008—the same year we formed the company and became a nonprofit—and was the first moment that we felt like we could make art that was very personal, irreverent, and polymorphic, with loose, nonlinear structures filled with games, cap-gun battles, cold-cut sandwiches, and confetti cannons. Redcat was incredibly valuable to us as we were developing our sensibility as young artists.

“We were not really interested in making theater that had anything to do with the labor of making theater—for instance, memorization. So we lip-synced, we read from books, we told a personal story of a dying parent. We had sequenced actions that were more like a ritual than choreography. We would joke and making light of everything. We never took anything very seriously.

“The first two shows were made in a type of isolation chamber. They were made in basements with faux wood paneling and mini bars. They were made in public parks and on concrete floors. We were existing together as a unit, a band. The shows were made to give our lives a direction in the face of a nation that was falling apart under an administration [Bush II] we didn’t trust. Both of these works reflected the way we felt about ourselves encountering a very different world. They were chaotic, whiskey-fueled abstractions.

“I was reading Richard Foreman manifestos religiously, and—with the naïveté of being twenty- two years old—we set off to make an alternative home for the type of work that we felt most excited by.* We rented a 6,100-square-foot warehouse on the fringe of the arts district in downtown Los Angeles. Somehow we managed to get the last property loan before the economy collapsed in 2008.

“We painted the walls of the warehouse and made an office in the back. A few of us were living there. Our intentions behind our first works were really simple: we wanted to make something that we would want to go see. We wanted to make theater that was funky and cool, something that could exist in a music venue or underground art party. The party itself was a large part of the early works. The culture of party. To party. Where’s the party? When we had our warehouse, the party was how we were generating revenue to pay the rent. It inevitably became part of the art we were making.

“In the warehouse, I conceived and wrote our second piece, The Internationalists. That same summer we toured Eastern Europe, performing in venues and festivals all over Croatia, Poland, and Serbia. We performed in national theaters, in a converted military fort on an untouched 19th-century island, and on rooftops in Poland. That summer is a very long story. It changed my life. The tour accelerated my passion for collectivity as an art practice. I think it has a special place for us because of the spirit of the group that is contained inside of it. Collective spirit is a rare alchemy and something we never took for granted. Over the past ten years we have felt the oscillating nature of ideals being thrown into the marketplace, where they become tainted.

“Before making The Internationalists, I was really angry. I was upset at ‘the theater’ and ‘Hollywood’ and wanted to make something that pierced the belly of the beast. I was challenging my values as a young man in relationship to the Hollywood image machine of John Wayne and the like. I became obsessed with the April 9, 1959 NASA announcement of Project Mercury. I started by recreating the press conference with the group. This process of recreating—of make-believing—a historical event is very much a part of our latest work, GROUP THERAPY. Both works operate as an echo chamber of the past while seeking a radical shift in our consciousness. They are, as Richard Foreman put it, ‘a perpetual motion machine’—theater works that run off their own fuel.”


Thursday through Saturday, January 11, 12, and 13, at 8 pm.

Saturday, January 13, at 3 pm.

Little Theater at MacGowan Hall, UCLA

245 Charles E. Young Drive East, Los Angeles.

*Richard Foreman is the founder of The Ontological-Hysteric Theater (OHT), “founded in 1968… with the aim of stripping the theater bare of everything but the singular and essential impulse to stage the static tension of interpersonal relations in space.”

Poor Dog Group, from top: Group Therapy; Satyr Atlas (3); Murder Ballad 1938 (2); The Internationalists (2); Five Small Fires (2); Group Therapy (2). Images courtesy and © the photographers and Poor Dog Group.


Contemporary theater collective Poor Dog Group are on CAP UCLA’s 2017–2018 season schedule with their new work Group Therapy (January 2018). This week they bring their recent piece MURDER BALLAD 1938 to Baltimore for four nights.

“With a murky mix of desire, jealousy and emancipatory yearning, Poor Dog Group’s movement-based work gives forceful physical life to Jelly Roll Morton’s legendary 1938 recording. Originally performed in the brothels of New Orleans’ steamy Storyville district, Morton’s song revels in the nastiness of its heroine’s voice, whose feral physical energy lays claim to the violent impulses of a woman betrayed. MURDER BALLAD 1938 delves into the myth of female madness and racialized representations of sexuality.”*

POOR DOG GROUP – MURDER BALLAD 1938, Wednesday, August 2 through Saturday, August 5.

Every night at 8 pm. Additional Saturday matinee at 2 pm.

BBOX, MARYLAND INSTITUTE COLLEGE OF ART, 1601 West Mount Royal Avenue, Baltimore.


MURDER BALLAD 1938. Image credit: Poor Dog Group.