In April of 2019 we, the Shrets, decided to go on a big ol’ road trip. And we decided to document our trip in an Instagram and a blog. Why, you might ask, did we decide to suspend our incomes, live out of a car, and shower less frequently than we would like over the course of 70 days? It’s a question we are still asking ourselves, but we thought we would give a little bit of background on what drove (heh) us to take this trip and what we are trying to accomplish through it.
The Road Trip is still, to this day, one of the most American things that exists. The promise of isolation, the promise of freedom, the promise of so-called uncharted territory. The journey that actualizes the cowboy in us all, car, steed, cowboy, us. Is the road trip a redeemable American ideal? The road trip has always been documented and set down as a masculine, white pursuit – those writers that we were told were the untouchable pinnacle. They knew best. They captured best. They were best.
We set off on this road trip because we wanted to. Because we are American. Because we don’t know what that means. Because we want to pursue that fool’s errand that is ‘seeing America’. Because we need a fucking break. Because the road is calling. Because the road never had our number.
For us, this also represents something larger in terms of our lifelong pursuits. We want to create performance work. We do create performance work. This trip is a commitment to creating, and will provide the source material from which we will make a performance piece of some form. As part of this larger commitment to creating, we are also documenting the trip on an Instagram (a form that is baffling and fascinating to us both), devoting ourselves to daily journaling, frequent creative writing, movement and performance practice to discover personas, and this blog. Additionally, our ever-developing personas have a snail mail correspondence that is being funneled and archived through our collaborator Ashley Chang. It’s a lot. It’s a lot of work. And for us it represents the beginning of something much much larger.
We flew from Brooklyn to start the trip in San Diego (yes, you are correct, we missed our original flight and had to spend the night in an airport hotel). After a brief few days staying in San Diego with Laura’s parents (we also ran a half marathon), we set out on the road in a light blue Honda CRV they loaned to us (ugh thank you so much).
Along the way we stayed with friends and family, camping in national parks, federally-owned forests, and backyards, and visiting communes and queer sanctuaries. We wanted to attempt that great folly of an American Project that is “discovering America”, and we want to make a performance from our experiences. In our quarter-life crises we want to see the ways other people around the country are living to take a clearer look at the ways we live and the ways we might live.
We want to seize, reclaim, and reinvent the road trip. We come with fem bodies, food allergies, fears and spreadsheets, with questions of whiteness and gender expression at the fore and a desire to upend colonial notions of discovery. In all of this, we want to cultivate a process that is open source, welcoming you to read, comment, and affect our journey as we take it.
We are currently developing a performance drawing from our research on the road. The Road Flip project will create a complete legendary world, unnerving historically cis-het, masculine, white American mythologies and reclaiming the legendary for everyone. The Road Flip engages collaborators across the US in an act of radical kinship inviting snail mail, music, visual art, choreography, and other ephemera to create a vast paratextual universe which accompanies a stage performance.
Our first work in process show based on Road Flip material was Tennessee, performed at Bloom Wave Cabaret’s backyard show.
We then performed a rough draft for a works in process night we hosted at WOW titled WANTERS. Our excerpt was a scratch performance of our self-mythologized road trip, told via puppet theatre inside of a tent, juxtaposed with satirical performances of traditionally legendary animal figures anthropomorphized as petty office workers (e.g. Penny Pika, Mr. Bear, Judge Tortoise) embroiled in a legal case about assault and land access.
After WANTERS we vowed to perform every month in 2020 (a plan that was swiftly foiled by the pandemic), and created a piece called Titties & Tequila as an Open Mike night intervention ode to Fran.
Our Road Flip altar egos Hunter and Vene wrote mid-pandemic postcards inviting participants to write back from their homes in a project called the Stillnesses.
Stay tuned for what’s up next in this project….