SchoolArts Magazine

September 2017

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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28 SEPTEMBER 2017 SchoolArts L O O K I N G & L E A R N I N G ARTIST Q&A SchoolArts: How did Whoop Dee Doo get started? Matt Roche: Whoop Dee Doo started in Kansas City, Missouri, as a response to the lack of local public access television and a desire to create content and live program - ming that would bring the community closer. We brought together a group of artists (ranging from ten to fourteen contributors per show) to create large-scale installations and performances that were presented as "filmings" of a fake children's variety TV show. These shows took place in local art spaces and featured a diverse selection of local per- formers along with interactive games, contests, and dancing. SA: What are some of the biggest influences on your work? MR: We were inspired by the accessible production values and sometimes awkward/amateurish nature of public access television and off-hour local network programming. Two of the strongest examples of this are Chic-a-Go-Go and Svengoolie (both from Chicago). Svengoolie airs a different B-horror movie every Saturday with a low-budget intro, outro, and commercial break skits hosted by the title character, a monster host of indetermi - nate origin. The show's lighthearted and goofy approach to horror and monsters has had a particular impact on us. Chic-a-Go-Go is a public access dance show hosted by Miss Mia and Ratso, a rat puppet. The show features lip-synched live performances and short interviews with performers. Directly influential on Whoop Dee Doo are the dance segments featuring the unlikely combinations of locals who show up for tapings, paired with a simple set and awkwardly long edits that make the show totally bizarre. SA: Tell us about one of your favorite moments during a Whoop Dee Doo performance. MR: A consistent highlight of Whoop Dee Doo's perfor- mances is the final group dance. We close our shows by bringing all performers as well as available Whoop Dee Doo crew and artists to the stage for some final audience applause. We then invite the audience members to come up and join in on a final dance, generally to some old - ies or disco music that is familiar to all ages. It's always touching to see everyone celebrating together before the makeup and costumes come off. SA: How much preplanning is required for one of your events? How do you keep all of the collaborators organized? MR: We leave as many of the creative decisions undeter- mined as possible until the last one to two weeks before a performance to allow the show to really take shape when the youth groups, performance groups, and Whoop Dee Doo artists meet and brainstorm together. However, a great deal of planning is required to seek out and find the perfect groups to work with and those who can make a real com - mitment to our process and are willing to step far outside of their normal routine. It's really quite mind-blowing what all of the groups working tirelessly together can accomplish in a mere six, eight, ten days. SA: How do you generate and develop ideas? MR: We begin the collaborative process with a theme for the show. Themes are chosen to have visual/creative potential while remaining vague or open-ended, enough to allow all collaborators to easily jump in with ideas. Past themes have included the body, underground/dirt, gold rush, spring, ice, etc. Using the theme as the starting point, early brainstorm meetings generate an abundance of ideas ranging from one-word visual concepts to complex performance collaborations and contest and skit ideas. We are lucky to work with groups that are willing to do extensive collaborations with our artists and with other local groups, such as our Boys & Girls Club kids collaborat - ing with a doom metal band for a performance based on mud and moles (see pages 26–27). The possibilities are endless, especially when working with such talented kids and artists. DISCUSSION Show students several images from Whoop Dee Doo per- formances. During the discussion, have students cite evi- dence found in the images to support their ideas. Ask: • What is happening in this image? • Besides visual art, what other forms of fine art do you see? • What is the theme in each of these images? Why do you think so? • How do you think these performances came together? • How would someone plan or organize this kind of event? STUDIO EXPLORATIONS • As a class, choose a theme/topic for a variety show. Work independently to create 2D costumes and set designs. • Work collaboratively in small groups to create a short play based on a simple theme. Use everyday materials to create your costumes and set. • Research the variety shows that have influenced Whoop Dee Doo ( Svengoolie, Chic-a-Go-Go, Pee Wee's Play - house). Use what you have learned to design your own variety show that comments on or parodies contemporary life, including hosts, characters, and sets. • As a class, plan, design, and produce a collaboration with other community organizations designed to bring people together. Share the performance with a live audience and document it through film and video. What topics or themes will you focus on? How might your performance transcend boundaries and bring dif - ferent groups together? Written by Karl Cole, Art Historian and Curator of Images at Davis Publications and Robb Sandagata, Digital Curriculum Director and Editor at Davis Publications. RESOURCES www.whoopdeedoo.tv For a behind-the-scenes on Whoop Dee Doo's process, visit www.art21.org/newyorkcloseup/films/welcome-to-whoop- dee-doo-with-matt-roche-jaimie-warren-too/ To see more images from Whoop Dee Doo, see page 51.

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