What’s a “Draft Performance”?

Posted on January 17, 2013 by Haymaker

White Pines Elektra Scenes Performance. Photo by Chase Varga.


Last year, while making What’s That Cost: The Federal Budget and You, we began experimenting with a process of creating multiple drafts of our pieces.

The purpose of these drafts was to experiment with themes, characters, ideas, and structures that we were interested in exploring for the piece. Each draft had rules that governed it and experiments we wanted to try.

And each draft was very different.

In Draft 1 of What’s that Cost, there was a shag-dancing octopus; in Draft 2 there was a hands-on museum exhibit; and in Draft 3, Drs. X and Y appeared.

At the end of each six-week drafting period, we would invite select friends and colleagues in to experience the piece and give us feedback. We would conduct a brief talk-back after the performance of the draft where we asked the audience about their experience and shared our own. As audience is so crucial in our work, we need audience reaction to help gauge the effectiveness of our experiments.

Usually, we would find one or two kernels from that performance that would launch us into the next draft, though we often scrapped the draft entirely and proceeded in a new direction for the next draft.

In the past, these draft performance were invitation-only. Frankly, we were weirdly nervous about inviting anyone other than friends to see our messy, unfinished, rough work. Over time, though, we realized that we were doing ourselves a disservice by not inviting more people into our creation process. We talk about our work being focused on the audience experience, but how can we know what that experience is if we don’t invite them in? We were also thrilled with the idea of giving people more opportunities to engage with us as we take two years to build a piece.

All that brings us to Elektra and the Process Series. With the encouragement of the director of the Process Series, Joseph Megel, we received a grant to become Artist in Residence and present these drafts throughout our year at UNC. The Process Series encourages audience involvement in new work creation, and it is the perfect place for us to solidify our Draft Presentation process.

Our first draft presentation is Tuesday, and we’re so excited for you to be a part of that audience. We hope you can join us.


Haymaker’s Elektra Project: Draft Performance #1
January 22, 2013 @ 8pm
Swain Hall, Campus of UNC – Chapel Hill
Free, reservations recommended.
Click HERE for more details or to join us.