Poor Dog Group members met when they were eighteen years old and have been making art together for over a decade. Their latest work, Group Therapy, is based on 16 hours of audio recording of real group therapy with a licensed professional to explore the inner work of long-term collaboration. This is a documentary show focused on a cohesive group of friends who process their marriages, divorces, falls, alcoholism, the mess of making art together, and above all what they want to endure.
Guided partly by the innovative journey in himself – the documentary film of 1968, in which Carl Rodgers held a session for 8 strangers as they "try to discover the secret of their unity" – Group therapy combines recreated moments from the therapy of Poor Dog Group non-cardiac confrontations, occasional operations and kinematic gestures. The combination leads to an uncensored portrait of how individuals struggle to articulate and fight repetitive behavior patterns ranging from banal to traumatic.
Through the therapeutic methodologies of Carl Rogers, Fritz Pearls and others, PDG members sit in a circle and delve into the most personal details of inner relationships and self-esteem. As artists in America, we are building our work under the constant sense of danger – that we can no longer continue our practice because of the desperate financial challenges and the subsequent tense interpersonal dynamics. Group therapy intimately reveals a collective crisis to challenge the role of theater as an important social gathering in the heart of our communities. Our anxiety moves us beyond the stage, to questions of personal value, the right to addiction to substances, the security of housing and jobs, and the debt. The ecstasy of the privilege of the group of poor dogs to create a theater in its essence is deconstructed in the final work of the ensembles.
Group therapy is being developed at the UCLA Performance Art Center. Group therapy received additional residual support from Headland Center for Arts Cultural Center of Lower Manhattan and was further developed at the CalArts New Performance Center. Group therapy is produced in partnership with and is managed by Los Angeles practice practice. Group Therapy is a Creative Capital project.
Director: Jesse Bonnell
Pictorial Design / Efren Delgadillo
Sound Design / Andrew Gilbert
Lighting Design / Christine Ferriter
Sound Equipment / Duncan Woodbury
Video Design / Keith Skretch and Efren Delgadillo
Costume design / EB Brooks
Dramaturgy / Eleanor Skimin
Adam Haas Hunter
Cat Ventura Ahmanson