March 28th, 2009 | Interviews

Post-Fact Productions likes it “avant-hard,” a theatrical concept that explores post-modern ideas in spandex and orgasms. Beneath much mental hula-hooping, the dynamic duo of Rachel Kolar and Lauren Brown subject themselves to months of split personalities and abstract living before allowing an audience to question reality through their art. They’re familiar faces around town—the girls are both members of He’s My Brother She’s My Sister, in which Rachel sings and Lauren tap-dances. But for the time being, at least through the weekend, please consider them manifestations of pixilated thought bubbles as their new play Parabox closes. This interview by Daiana Feuer.

This is your second play at Son of Semele theatre—what’s your relationship with them?
Lauren Brown: We’re a guest production there, and they’re looking for a way to share their space. They want to pick projects that match what their theatre is about and things that are primarily experimental.
Rachel Kolar: We’re going to New York to La Mama with New, our last play. And we’re waiting to hear back from Redcat. It’s so beautiful, that theatre. I went there for the Black Clock anniversary party. Literally I sat in the seat and started weeping—well, no, not really—envisioning us, especially with that massive screen. We’d get huge boxes (…paraboxes…), everything would be bigger.
When did you write Parabox?
RK: I only finished writing it a week before opening night.
LB: But it’s almost like we’re sitting in it. Every day, it’s all around us.
RK: I came up with the concept almost the day after we finished our last play. From then on, everything Lauren and I did funneled through this Parabox concept. When you live together, it’s a totally different playing field.
LB: You become absorbed in it. It takes a lot of work to snap out of it and enjoy our lives.
RK: If you’re living in the theme of whatever you’re working on, everything becomes that. Things grow but also fester in my mind. I write from life experience and contort it into something theatrical, so I wait for something I can physically or emotively feel.
Do the characters you create seep into your personalities?
RK: It’s actually really scary. In the last play, I was kind of a fascist. And I became that. I was really self-righteous all the time. And now my character is so fragile and vulnerable, I find myself questioning everything in my life. Now I’m going to write a play about Greek goddesses.
LB: You don’t even realize its happening. Then, every day, how you’re reacting, how you’re thinking, you slowly change.
RK: Lauren actually started growing a mustache.
Oh? It’s difficult to tell in the silver unitards—are you the male?
LB: Certainly the more masculine force. I’ve been so fucking aggressive lately. And really too excited about things, and almost over the top about everything. I’m living in a sitcom. It’s annoying to the people around me.
RK: When she figured out how to invert a picture on Photoshop the other day, she had an orgasm.
LB: This box won’t come off my freaking head. I’ve also become more robotic. Even sexually. I’ve become more asexual in a weird way. Sorry, boyfriend…
RK: I agree. Unfortunately I’ve fallen pray to the same thing.
LB: But you also want to be in it, at least through the run of the show. People are paying money to see us fucked up.
There’s a common thread of east-side music in your plays: Hecuba, Black Hole Oscillators, Lucky Dragons, Future Pigeon…
RK: I always go to Paul Beahan from Manimal Vinyl because his stuff is fucking great.
Yes, the future of pop.
RK: I hope so! It’s risky and fun and really smart. We’re talking to him about doing live performances. Instead of an orchestra, we’d have Lucky Dragons in the pit.
LB: We’re taking the band’s music and putting it to something different and exposing it to audiences in a new way. For the dance number where we used Future Pigeon, I’m sure no one’s heard that song connected in that way.
What’s cool about your plays is that the subject may be heady but your delivery is playful. You have dance numbers.
LB: Especially with experimental theatre, you can take it so seriously, people feel removed from it. We want it to be accessible and exciting.
RK: We want to hook the audience in because we’re playing with the idea of what advertising, billboards, all this mind control and manipulation—we want to do that with the audience.
LB: Advertising is all snappy-boom, so the approach to directing, transitions sharp—it’s all like a long advertisement.
Where was the opening video shot?
RK: It was shot in El Matador, which is a favorite for a lot of Echo Park and Silver Lake folks. It’s in Malibu, past Zuma, past Malibu high school. It’s a private beach where you can always find a naked man in a crevice.
LB: We saw a naked woman. She thought we were marshmallows and then I saw her vagina.
RK: We brought our unitards there and we were rolling around in the sand and the ocean, thinking we can wash it…it turned yellow.
It seems like the unitards would have trapped a lot of sand.
RK: It didn’t even occur to us. We were so joyous.
Is a state of fluidity one that’s free of advertising?
RK: When I say advertising I sort of mean everything. Any sort of direction on how to live one’s life. That’s why we go to nature.
As of now, the play lasts about 35 minutes, winding up almost abruptly. Are you considering a second half?
RK: If we do, I’m going to dye the unitards.
LB: I like ending this act in a giant question mark. It’s more realistic. What is going to happen next between these two opposing sides? Things aren’t wrapped up in a bow. You can’t get to an ending in life. People come together and separate.
RK: Don’t depress me.
LB: That’s reality. Some things are unfinished and that’s the ending.
RK: True, but things don’t have to end, they can change. In this case, I don’t know how one comes back. These two people have been subject to excessive amounts of advertising, of manipulation. Their life is saturated in it. My character was becoming a terrorist. When you find enlightenment or this path to a world free of whatever you were fighting, but then a side of you is still attached to it, this hatred brews and you try to take it down.
LB: Especially because your character was rejected by mine.
RK: And that sense of rejection could drive you crazy until you’re just as bad. —I always like going darker and darker.
What’s the most experimental aspect of your life?
RK: My entire life is pretty much experimental. I think I’ve always been quite a little bit of this fiery not insane but veering…
LB: I’m the opposite. I’m a Capricorn so I like things the way they are. Where I get free and experimental is my art. But I can only enjoy that and go for it if the rest of my life is pretty grounded.
RK: It’s my work that’s more grounded, even if it’s experimental. I’ll really think, is that too ridiculous? There’s a lot of art out there that’s totally absurd. It has no meaning and it’s not well-crafted. People are so convinced that whatever they do is fantastic. I’m like that in all other aspects of my life.