On November 30, 2012, Pat the Dog invited Jess Dobkin to speak at The University of Waterloo on being vulnerable onstage. Not necessarily the exposure of being literally naked onstage, but the vulnerability that comes with presenting your whole self.
Theatre inherently has built-in risk: in any given production you never know exactly what will happen in real time, on a real stage, with a real audience. Toronto-based Performance Artist Jess Dobkin wonders what other risk and vulnerability lies beyond that given fact. She spoke about the multiple levels of vulnerability: the vulnerability of playing with taboos and going to those darker places, of putting ideas out there that you’re not sure are good or bad, of telling complete strangers your thoughts and hoping they are riding along on the journey with you.
Essentially, what’s the space of intimacy, vulnerability and risk on a stage and how does a performer/playwright mediate those elements? Whether it is using puppets as a shield of safety between herself and the audience, or accepting that her body is in constant flux, Jess Dobkin tells us how she brokers these relationships between reservation and intimacy, risk and reward onstage.
Watch this short video for a glimpse into our day with Jess Dobkin (video courtesy of our Dramaturgical Associate Laine Newman):