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  1. We are committed to discovering what we don’t yet know about something. To that end, we engage in extended research and development. Each rehearsal starts from a blank page (metaphorically speaking). We investigate something—e.g. an object, process or convention— without knowing where we are going or where we will end up. We have faith and confidence we will stumble upon something interesting along the way.
  2. We’re swimming in technology in our daily lives. Consequently, we use technology to build our work. We don’t, however, use the technology in the way it was intended. For example, we might attach a homemade contact mic to a tensor lamp. The lamp then transforms from a light source to something musical—and something mysterious
  3. We are committed to discovering and using what we call the“facts”in the space. We are not trying to hide the truth of any object, process or space. We acknowledge their truth. And by doing so, we explore the honest transformations possible when we create work by juxtaposing the facts as they are.
  4. We avoid slickness by rediscovering the poetry in simple objects.
  5. We are interested in creating new forms by combining and juxtaposing familiar forms.
  6. We believe in what John Cage calls “purposeful purposelessness”. Our work does not have to be useful politically or socially – just playful and naive; curious and full of wonder. Useless art is very useful.
    Phil Soltanoff and Steven Wendt

What is THIS ? What is THAT ?

THAT uses light and video technology as abstract puppetry THIS investigates hand shadows.

THAT paints with light and imagines the creation of the universe.
THIS is about the people in it as it follows characters as they explore various feelings, their romantic sense of longing, loss, alienation and near miss.

THAT uses cameras, projectors and tripods that come to life by being operated. Zooming in and out, maneuvering visual feedback loops, dissolving images together and apart – creating an abstract video puppetry right in front of our eyes.
THIS tells stories about loss and love. These are born as the characters in Chinese shadows appear: a cowboy sleeps under the stars, a family puts their child to sleep for the night, a crooner serenades his lover, a jazz pianist fantasizes while he plays.

THAT is inspired by Basil Twists’ Symphony Fantastique.
THIS brings to life characters inspired by the sculptures of Henri Moore.


Steven Wendt is the main performer of the piece. He manipulates on sight and live the different objects that inhabit the stage. Phil Soltanoff on the side, mixes the sounds and orchestrates the music. The audience observes the creation of each event and becomes the witness of the acts and gestures of the artist caught on the spot, sometimes in struggle, sometimes inspired.

Dream-like, we witness the puppeteer searching to make and discover meaning and beauty.

“Through extensive research, intense collaboration, questioning and ongoing serious play, Phil Soltanoff is committed to exploring what is possible in the living space called theatre. Harnessing and recombining elements of dance, new media, puppetry, circus, lo-fi technology, visual and sound art, he constructs rigorous and innovative performances through juxtaposition. Avoiding psychological realism, embracing the abstract power of theatre, and exploring the “facts” or realities of a performer, an object, a space, Soltanoff does nothing less than reawaken the everyday and its conversation with the ‘infinite.”

The Herb Alpert Awards,
Phil Soltanoff is the recipient of 2020 Alpert Award Theatre



Co-writing by Phil Soltanoff and Steven Wendt
Performed by Steven Wendt
Directed by Phil Soltanoff

Produced by The Institute of Useless Activity
Coproduced by The Bushwick Starr
With the support of The Jim Henson Foundation
Executive producer of tour (outside the US) : Compagnie 111 – Aurélien Bory

Visual theater for all audience

Running time : 60 minutes without intermission