Name: Dara Silverman
From: Lexington, MA
Lives: Oakland, CA
Go-To Cycling Snack: smoked salmon, hunk of bread, string beans, chocolate bar
Cyclist Rating: Crushes watermelons with cyclist thighs
What inspired Agile Rascal in the first place? I was in New York a few years back, seeing all this innovative art. I asked myself, just as an experiment, what kind of wildly ambitious project would I want to do, and almost before I had formed the question, I already knew the answer. I wanted to combine my two favorite things: theatre and biking. At the time, I was tired of traditional playwriting, which seemed mostly to consist of sitting alone, talking to myself, and I had been fascinated by the idea of bicycle touring, but was worried that I would get bored without an art project. Both pieces of the puzzle seemed to offer each other a kind of solution. In exploring the ways that bike touring and theatre intersect, it’s amazing how much there is to consider! How can we get the most out of the materials we carry? How much rest do we need between pedaling and performance? I want to keep at it because I feel like we still have so much to learn! But there’s something amazing that happens when you narrow your focus – all of a sudden the possibilities become limitless! And perfecting something that hasn’t really existed in this form before means there are no roadmaps, we have to blaze the trail as we go, and that’s incredibly exciting to me.
What is bicycle touring theatre to you?
This is a toughy, because the answer seems to change day to day. Sometimes it’s about hitting the road and escaping reality, sometimes it’s about engaging creatively with the people we meet, sometimes it’s about renegotiating my relationship to time, distance and consumption, and sometimes it’s about negotiating how to create, live, travel and share collectively. Ask me again tomorrow and I’ll have a whole new list!
Please tell us an embarrassing cycling story.
Well, I do all my errands on bike. Panniers (bags that hook to your bike rack) make this easy, but as a somewhat petite person, occasionally there’s not enough clearance between my foot and a really full bag. The other day, I kicked my grocery pannier right off my bike into the middle of an intersection and had to stop traffic while I rushed around picking potatoes off the street! Luckily everyone was very patient with me.
Tell us about your best free theatre experience.
That’s easy! Romeo and Juliet at the Omni Commons right here in Oakland, California. (Shout out to Alexis, Maryssa, Caitlyn, Kelli, Phil!) Not only was the acting and directing top notch, but the way they created their world of “theatre-in-the-square” so the audience faced one another and the fact that it was all by donation, made the whole thing feel like the sweetest gift to the community.
What about Montana intrigues you?
I’m excited to breathe the air, look up at that big sky at night, talk to people and learn the history, and try to find the common thread that links all of these things together. How does the smell of the air inform people’s personalities? How can we represent that on stage? As we pedal through that air and those smells, meeting those personalities, how will it change the play? How will it change us?
Why do you choose to do live theatre? Especially in a digital age.
Oh, for that exact reason! Because it’s messy, because it’s hard, because it’s intimate and fleeting and occasionally exhilarating and occasionally humiliating. Because it requires you to re-imagine a real physical space as another world and real physical people as imagined characters, and you do it all collectively, mashed up against strangers in the dark with your phones off!