Spalding Gray: the humorist and his "method"

Date

1989-05

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Publisher

Texas Tech University

Abstract

Autoperformance, the work of Spalding Gray, is a "self-editing" process of storytelling. Based on his work with Richard Schechner, Elizabeth LeCompte and the Wooster Group, Gray developed a style of performance that is unicjuely his own. He has developed his performances into a therapeutic encounter with an audience as he recounts memories of his life. Some stories are fact, others are fiction; but they are all universal. Audiences are enthralled, engrossed and involved as Gray tells of growing up in a private school, his sexual experiences, and his travels across the United States. He establishes an intimate relationship with the audience and his tape recorder, which never leaves his table.

Gray has found a way to go directly to the performance of "self." He is the performer Spalding Gray telling stories about the life of the person Spalding Gray as the character Spalding Gray. He is himself and the character at the same time. There is no pretense to attempt to become someone else. All three—performer, person, and character—are one and the same. The process sounds simple enough as Gray explains it, but the reality is in the style of the performance. There is an important part of wit, intelligence, charm, timing, and a confessional innocence to each performance. Those qualities have moved Gray from the cultish avant-garde theatre to Broadway.

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