February 11, 2021
Expired is unlike anything the Wilma has created before. It’s an interactive web site, loosely inspired by certain Greek myths. As you click freely into the site, it transforms into a digital underworld, revealing videos and imagery to be explored and examined.
Wilma HotHouse Acting Company Member Ross Beschler (Describe the Night, There) was the lead artist for our latest free HotHouse Short, but it was created collaboratively with company members Suli Holum, Matteo Scammell, and Lindsay Smiling.
Ross answered questions about Expired over email.
What was the most rewarding part of the process?
Sharing prompts and ideas with the creative team, talking about them deeply, and then watching the amazing writing and video creations they would create in response to our conversations. Each member of the team is an incredible artist – they can take a small spark, and spin it off into a fully realized world. They have the confidence to follow an impulse down whatever strange channel it might take them – and watching what they came back with was an absolute joy.
What was the biggest challenge?
As lead artist, I was both creating content, and providing prompts, frame and context for people’s work. I found it very had to switch back and forth between the roles, and much of my own creative work came AFTER everyone else’s. And sitting and fretting and wondering if I’d provided a decent framework, if the show made sense, if people would feel inspired and make interesting proposals – it was more stressful than I had imagined, putting out ideas and then waiting to see what came back!
What would you like audiences to know before they experience your piece?
I think it provides a useful point of departure to know that the Orpheus myth was a big starting point for this piece. In Greek mythology, the musician Orpheus loses his new bride Eurydice to a snake bite. Unable to let her go, Orpheus travels to the afterlife, and uses his voice and his instrument to persuade Hades, the lord of the underworld, to let him take her back with him. She is allowed to follow Orpheus back to the land of the living, with one condition – he must not look back to see that she is following him. And of course he looks back, and Eurydice is taken from him forever. The story has a lot of resonances for me right now – in a time when we are wrestling with old systems and ideas that we perhaps don’t need anymore. What can we learn from the past? What can we let go of? And how does the digital computer space hold on to our old thoughts, ideas, and formulations in a way that is useful – or dangerous?
What can we learn from the past? What can we let go of? And how does the digital computer space hold on to our old thoughts, ideas, and formulations in a way that is useful – or dangerous?Ross Beschler
What would you like audiences to take away from the work?
I’d like them to be thinking about systems of belief, of thought, of government. About how this period of quarantine has provided a space to step back from the world we live in and consider it anew. What can be left behind? What can be reimagined? It’s okay to say goodbye to ideas that don’t serve us any more – can we be brave enough to let them go?