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Demolishing Everything with Amazing Speed The Day The Ketchup Turned Blue Disfarmer PuppetWho's Hungry?/West Hollywood Who's Hungry?/Santa Monica
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Disfarmer
(2009)

Disfarmer is inspired by the forty-year career (1917—1956) of portrait photographer Mike Disfarmer, who for decades shunned his family and neighbors while operating the only portrait studio for miles around Heber Springs, Arkansas. The play recreates a sense of the photographer’s interior and exterior worlds, illuminating the contradictions in the life of this American hermit whose intimate and revealing portraiture documented an entire mid-twentieth century, Dust Bowl community. Using glass plate photography long after it was obsolete, Mike Disfarmer left his subjects to decide for themselves how to act in front of his lens. When 4,000 of his negatives surfaced in the 1970s, Disfarmer’s portraits were recognized as a stunning achievement, with their exquisite artistry, profound empathy and invaluable documentation of a vanishing way of life. Five puppeteers show Disfarmer alone but not despairing, longing but not lonely, in his studio as he categorizes his every possession, barricades himself from the outside world, and compulsively measures constantly expanding distances between things. During the course of the play, Disfarmer shrinks like the rest of rural America, until he is completely gone, and we are left with the quiet and nervous expectancy of standing perfectly still for a long exposure.

Original text by Sylvan (formerly Sally) Oswald
Original music by Dan Moses Schreier
Lighting design by Tyler Micoleau
Cast: Matt Acheson, Chris Green, Tom Lee, Darius Mannino, Eric Wright
Premiered at St. Ann's Warehouse
Toured nationally
A project of Red Wing Performing Group, produced by MAPP International

Photo Credits:
All images by Richard Termine