In a lot of ways, Welcome to Night Vale exists because of Incubator Arts Project.
Joseph and I wrote our first collaborative piece together and performed it there (What the Time Traveler Will Tell Us, August 2011). We learned how to write together, how to work together, what we liked in story-telling, and most importantly that we enjoyed each other’s company as friends and artists.
I liked that show a lot, and I liked Samara and Brendan and all of the other lovely people at Incubator who made our experience comfortable and fun. They were supportive of our weird little show, and even though very few people ever saw the play (maybe 100 people over the course of 8 performances), we could not have felt better about the quality of work we were making. They did a lot right at Incubator, but nothing more so than cultivating artistic self-assurance.
Two years later, my wife, Jillian Sweeney, and I created a dance piece called Vulture-Wally in their problematic but flexible black box theater, where we re-imagined the stage space without seats and using lighting design as a set. It was the perfect place for this type of experimentation, with a staff that encouraged such play, such adventure.
Those two pieces - Time Traveler and Wally - were two of my favorite things I have ever done in my life. (and I don’t mean just artistic projects - I mean favorite things I have ever done in my life.)
Like I said, Samara Naeymi was (is) a fantastic person and artist and guide in this strange and aggravating world of experimental NYC theater/dance.
So tonight, June 24 - like other nights before - I will go to the 2nd floor of St Marks Church to see a show I know nothing about (Katorga) by people I know nothing about (OZET) doing odd and beautiful shit I probably have not imagined before
“Electronic and acoustic music, spoken and sung text, gestural choreography, and an immersive environment all combine to vivify a richly imagined world where prisoners labor in dimly lit mushroom fields as wardens struggle to communicate with the givers of the law, and somewhere on the outskirts a hundred-year-old hermit is setting out tea for his missing son.”
There are not many more nights left of Incubator. There are not many more nights of anything, really, but this is especially true at 131 E 10th St.
If you have a thing near your that does work like this, and you rarely go see that work, fucking go see it more, okay? I don’t care if you’re not excited by something you recognize or understand. Just go. (That’s directed at myself, too, because while I bemoan the loss of Incubator, I have not been so vigilant about seeing shows there. You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone, and all that. You know? Maybe I should yell at myself.)
Companies like Incubator are rare, special, and important. People like Samara, even more so. Let’s all encourage that kind of behavior in the world.
I will miss you, Incubator, but I am so happy that you had such a huge part in my life, in the creation of Night Vale, and in the lives of many artists creating weird art of the most imperfect kind.