Who's been drinking from the Jim Jones "party mix?" Proving the indelible mark upon the realities and imaginations of the American public, the mass-suicide/murder of 909 folks from the Peoples Temple Agricultural Project in Jonestown, Guyana refuses to fade away into the annals of the "dark past" of American history, now 36 years later.
While that relies purely on the svengali grip of Jones, the Jonestown massacre was the single largest loss of life instance for Americans until the September 11, 2001 attacks.
The social and political climate of the '70s is certainly nowhere near that of today's but a cult operating with quasi-Soviet intentions in that era; it is easy to draw some parallels between the ideology surrounding the threat of communism in those dying days of the Cold War and post-Mariel South Florida, where Cuban communism continues to affect residents.
Courtesy of John Hancock III
However, the Anti-Anti Opera is more of a step unto a future platform. Aiming to explore social and anarchist discourse, this performative piece is a three-way collaboration between Liz Ferrer, Jen Clay, and John Hancock III. So while there might be some remnants of the cult's troubled history within American and Guyanese lore, it is not as much the socio-political climate that led up to the massacre but rather the cult itself that has provided the conceptual base for this work.
When asked about the connection, Ferrer stated "I'm studying cults for a future project. This is a research piece. I'm using the 'cult' to explore anti-capitalist ideology," an endemic strategy of her works, as they all seem to lead into further explorations.
Ferrer's background in theater has largely helped the DIY/guerrilla aesthetic of her productions without ever devolving into the anarchic circumstances that she explores. In collaboration with Jen Clay, a multimedia artist known for costume and puppet designs that often blur the lines between the appropriation and/or outright bastardization of established horror enterprises like Psycho and the Amityville Horror through the eyes of a children's educational show a la Sesame Street and Yo Gabba Gabba.
Scoring the evening's performance will be Awesome New Republic founder and l'enfant terrible John Hancock III, who will debut music from his upcoming solo effort, Boardwalking. The D.C. native has, in his relatively short time in South Florida, come to embody a filtered understanding of her music scenes and has continued to create under the auspices of rock 'n' roll but with many tendrils extending into other genres.
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For this performance, the closer of Ferrer's Artist in Residence association with inkub8, the eternal student of the human condition and collaborators ask that attendees, the "brothers and sisters" of the night, dress entirely in white for the ceremony.