MapFund

About the Grant

$25,400 to support Real Enemies (MAP 2015)
$4,684 to general operating support for Beth Morrison Projects

About the Project

Based on in-depth research into the history, aesthetics, and psychology of conspiracy, Real Enemies is an evening-length, multimedia, jazz-fueled exploration of American paranoia. This innovative marriage of music-theater and hybrid nonfiction marks the first collaboration between composer Darcy James Argue, filmmaker Peter Nigrini and writer Isaac Butler, who together chronicle a shadow history of post-war America that may—or may not—be true. Beginning with Edward Snowden’s revelations about NSA data collection and moving through a dozen conspiracies, Real Enemies mimics and deconstructs how information overload, our need to make sense of the world, and government wrongdoing form the basis of our conspiracy culture.

Conspiracy theories, after all, are our modern folklore, a way to explain uncomfortable and troubling aspects of our world. They’re also rife with paradox. Everything in a conspiracy theory is relational, a way to see connections between all things, yet paranoia isolates and alienates conspiracy theorists from society. Groups with legitimate fears that they are being conspired against often unconsciously respond by becoming a mirror image of the conspiracy that they believe threatens them. Perhaps the oddest aspect of conspiracy theories is that they arise at historical moments when there are legitimate reasons to be paranoid.

Equal parts rollicking concert, impressionist documentary and lyric essay, Real Enemies is at the vanguard of both music-theater and hybrid non-fiction, continuing the boundary-pushing work started by composer Darcy James Argue.

Related Websites

Beth Morrison Projects

Darcy James Argue



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