Experimental artist Colin Self's new multidisciplinary opera, Tip the Ivy, will be staged in NYC this spring, on May 5-7 at the Keith Haring Theatre. Self collaborated with Bully Fae Collins, Dia Dear, Mica Sigourney, and Geo Wyeth on the piece, and tickets to see it are on sale now. Here's more about it:
Tip the Ivy relies on Polari—an underground queer language created in the UK at a time in which homosexuality was punishable by law—to explore notions of encryption and criminality and the persistence of underground worlds and their stories. The shield of illegibility and opacity wrought by this hidden language runs parallel to forms of queer pleasure, community, and survival—which in this work manifests in an energy of deviance and joy. Querying the extent to which classical music and traditional theater forms can be decomposed through illusory language, Tip the Ivy is equal parts cacophony and symphony, call and response, catharsis and rehearsal.
Tip the Ivy follows the volatile construction of a queer archive, and the iterations and discrepancies of stories that survive across space-time. Collapsing multiple timelines of queer history and criminality, from Jordy Rosenberg's re-interpretation of jail breaker Jack Sheppard to Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Jean Genet adaptation Querelle, and a TikTok phenomenon Self calls Quoivoi – Self and their co-conspirators stage a fractured opera coalescing into a reverence for various forms of queer survival.
"The idea of using Polari in music and performance came to me when I was invited to create a response to Beethoven’s Missa solemnis — I interjected and hid phrases of Polari in a canonical example of classical music whose traditions derive from Catholicism," Self says. "I am fascinated by disrupting and infiltrating a lot of these familiar forms, and believe that one way to do so is to create systems by which a quorum of individuals gain the capacity to do or make something together. Starting from something like a script or piece of music — how can the framework of classical forms, whether operatic or theatrical, become something playful or less rigid? How can we break a structure while using it? It feels perfect to be bringing questions like these to Performance Space, as Tip the Ivy is so much about the people I know and love in New York, who are themselves deeply committed to transforming the mulch of old forms."
Self features on Lyra Pramuk's 2021 Fountain remix album; hear that, and their most recent track, "LMO," below.