writing

If you would like to stage a reading or perform the plays essentially or substantially as I have composed them, they are protected by copyright, and you need to clear performance rights. If you would like a perusal copy Please contact: perform(at)peetsbrain(dot)com.

the plays

Still April
Entropy, memory, stasis, and the weight of being human. A brilliant light through the dark journey of Alzheimer’s.

b-flat
Fragments and abstracted tales of lust and loss in the hearts of collapsing stars.

Five Women at a Funeral
Banter, bitterness, and reincarnation pours from the keyboard of a playwright who crashes a funeral on the unexpectedly wettest day of the year.

But Through a Glass Darkly
A Brechtian adaptation of Ursula K. LeGuin’s novel Voices, based on a previous adaptation, Oracle of the Western Shore.

Already Done to You
A movement piece about abuse and forgiveness.

Extraordinary Mysteries
Twin boys hold up in their own quantum reality, pondering the nature of time, space and revenge with a seemingly endless parade of their bewildered relations, most of whom haven’t the slightest sense of who they are, or were, and have no idea why they can’t escape their inevitable collisions.

the stories

coming soon

academic writing

Theatrical Design Concepts for Theatre Artists (working title) This text presents a primer of common visual elements and principles of design and compares and contrasts them within the frame of theatrical design, scenic, lighting and projection, costume, sound, and direction. The goal is to outline and begin a conversation for a common language between designers, directors, actors, and anyone else interested in a dialog on how these elements and principles and their use are either telling or not telling the story of the play—even if the play isn’t telling a narrative story. This text is replete with visual examples and builds on the work of by Paul Zelanski and Mary Pat Fisher, authors of Shaping Space, as well as the work of Mary Overlie, and Anne Bogart.

Fear of Meaning: Contemporary Art and Denuded Sign: (Peet Cocke and Scott Brennan-Smith) Intention is integral to art making. Late capitalist visual culture, however, has thrived on the idea that art is synonymous with open-ended, viewer-determined meanings. Post-modern attacks on intention have created a climate in which viewers expect meaning to be so baffling and opaque that there is no visible difference between opacity and emptiness. Lacking context in which viewing has the potential to register significance through shared cultural commonalities, contemporary artists, like Madison Avenue have learned that trendiness is the sine qua non of success in the marketplace. Artists who do work with clear subject matter and focused intention, do not preclude the role of the viewer in the process of constructing meaning, but rather the viewer imparts facets of interpretation providing a depth and richness to subject matter and intention, serving to articulate the artists’ intention even more clearly. This is not to say that intention is always clearly verbalized, inherent in the process of art making are parallel processes of shifting intentions within a wide swath of subject matter and form. Essential in this is an artist, cognizant of their intention, even if that grasp is an a tangential one. Post-modern visual culture has left us in a vacuum, where the object, maybe devoid of skill, maybe not, but certainly stripped of intention masquerades as both subject matter and form, and relieves the artist of historical and societal responsibility. This paper will explore the idea of intention and intentionless meaning, post-modernist visual culture, and the role of late capitalism, citing specific examples from contemporary artists from the 20th and 21st century.

The “De-Skilling” of Contemporary Art: Rethinking Art Education in the 21st Century: (Peet Cocke and Stuart Steck) In a recent essay, the critic Barry Schwabsky argued that contemporary art is essentially a conceptual practice – one that privileges theoretical discourse over technical skill. According to Schwabsky, the production of art no longer necessitates conventional forms of craftsmanship. In his view, artists are now free to make art without having to employ (or even possess) traditional skills and techniques. As one might expect, however, this process of “de-skilling” has had a profound effect on the evolution of contemporary art; for it has not only transformed the ways in which artists produce images and objects, but it has redefined our basic understanding of what constitutes “artistic skill.” Yet, while our conception of artistic skill has become increasingly expansive in recent years, the “de-skilling” of art is hardly a new phenomenon. Indeed, since the early 1900’s – when Marcel Duchamp first began to exhibit found objects – the importance of technical training has been hotly contested. Today, one might even argue that traditional skills are both obsolete and anachronistic. But is the idea of craftsmanship truly outdated? Have we really entered a period of cultural production in which art has become fundamentally de-skilled? Or has the notion of artistic skill simply been redefined? And if so, what does this mean for the future of art education? How can art schools restructure their programs to account for the so-called “de-skilling” of art? How can art educators provide students with the skills and resources necessary to navigate the shifting terrain of visual culture? With these questions in mind, the proposed panel will address the meaning and relevance of technical skill within the context of art education. Towards this end, we will solicit papers from art educators who have addressed this issue within their own institutions. More specifically, we will seek presentations that provide concrete examples of curriculum development that take into account the de-skilling of art and its implications for emerging artists. In this way, the panel will address different strategies that can help to ensure the efficacy of art education as we enter the new millennium.

At 29.97 Frames a Second, Arshile Gorky Makes Me Sad: Throughout human history, we have made art and told stories, our shared, collective myths and art are an essential part of how we define ourselves as human and our humanity. What role do collective narratives and mythologies have in shaping an emphatic response? (Joseph Campbell) and what of literature, reading and the human imagination. (JRR Tolkien, JK Rowling) How has this context changed since the moving image, and later image and sound, became our primary mode for the mass communication of images and narratives. How do images, both still and moving, aural and silent mediate whole mythologies, whole lifetimes, vast expanses of time and seemingly insignificant moments with equal grace and power? Why is it that moving images engender empathy—allowing us to suspend our disbelief and invoke and emotional response—but we are equally unmoved by a still image of exactly same subject? Do we recognize when we are being manipulated by these images?(Spielberg) And what effect does that have on the subject matter, form and our emotional response? Does cognition preclude an emotional response? What do visual artists do with the medium of film that differs from Hollywood? and Why is Hollywood so much better at it? This presentation will explore these questions by using specific narratives across baroque painting, (Caravaggio) 20th century painters, (Kahlo, Warhol) video artists (Bill Viola) and feature films (Spielberg, Jackson) whose origins predate them all, and address the how and why differences, in the cognitive and emotional response engendered each medium. It will examine the apparent shift in the collective context where the still image, requiring cognition, seemingly elicits less of an emotional response than that of a more passively viewed moving image. It will also explore how individual artistic endeavors are enhanced and weakened by the ubiquity of technology, (iMovie, YouTube) and what role critical discourse plays in an emphatic response.

American Idol and the Rise of Mediocrity: The role of the critique in the discourse of visual art is “over.” This proclamation is familiar to me as well, but it is familiar to me from a chorus of students whose educational experience lacks fundamental critical thinking skills. An educational system obsessed with “tests” and “learning outcomes.” An educational system whose only goal is the regurgitation of facts without regard to comprehension, application, and further up the cognitive learning ladder (Bloom’s Taxonomy) The era critique isn’t over it’s just “hard work” meaning it requires students to think, and in many cases arrive at the realization that their work might actually trite and pedantic. This is a difficult realization to come to given that popular culture dictates that anyone can be a superstar—American Idol, and the endlessly tedious Survivor series for example, regardless of how boring they may actually be. Slavoj Zizek addresses this as the post-modern superego. Where the traditional role of the authority figure has shifted from the “parental” to the “child,” and hence the “child” considers everything the it does as important and significant, when in fact it might not be. This combination of knowledge unencumbered by comprehension, and self-appointed significance is deadly to any instructor critical of a work especially in a public forum such as a critique. We needed to find a way to address this precarious position, and also fully address critical thinking skills as well as improve ideation and creative thinking, and enhance a students’ ability to understand and articulate their visual artwork in the contemporary cultural context.