Actor - Director - Singer - Theatre Maker
My name is Jeffrey Schoenfeld and I am not a well-adjusted person. Well-adjusted people do not really believe in the romantic. They deny their own absurdity and do not experience the tragic as a basic part of their existence. They have no space in themselves for the sublime or the macabre. I see all of these things as essential to the human experience, but we are expected not to live them. They are not grounded in what is known. They are dangerous because they knock on the door of the unknown.
As a theatrical artist, I’ve come to understand the root of performance as not knowing. I see it as the necessary function of theatre to reconnect people to the fundamental realities of being human, which entails opening a space for the unknown. Today, living, moving, and speaking from a place of not knowing is a deeply subversive act. As a creator, my tools for subversion are space, movement, music, voice, objects, and light.
I use these to explore the question: What is left of the human experience when notions of normativity, genre, social masks, and value judgments are stripped away? What I know for sure is that whatever remains is startlingly vulnerable, and also a wellspring of potential. I believe that when performers and audiences come together in this fertile lack of certainty, we create the possibility to change the way in which all of us see. The changing way in which we see ourselves, each other, and the world is one of the central interests of my work.
As a traveling actor, director, songwriter and student of theatre, my work has appeared internationally and my experience brings together different threads of history and culture. In Busan I directed the world premiere of the english language version of Kim Tae-Woong’s award-winning play The Clowns. I am currently pursuing an MFA in Acting and Contemporary Performance Making at arthaus.berlin where I am investigating creating dramatic spaces, embodied performance, and not becoming well-adjusted. My devised movement piece Horror Vacui appeared in Chicago in 2022, based on Jonny Greenwood’s orchestral piece of the same name. I am also studying voice, and music continues to be foundational for all of my creative process.
500 years ago, at the edge of medieval and modern, the knowledge that the earth was not the center of the universe would change the world irreversibly. Herr Georg Joachim Rheticus, a thought criminal, son of a convicted sorcerer and recruit of the Lutheran Reformation movement, knew this better than Copernicus himself. After he published in Copernicus’s name, his revolution broke humanity out of its safe music-box shell of a cosmos. The absolute ideas of up and down disappeared and the earth was suddenly adrift in a silent, unfathomable darkness.
What drove Rheticus to destabilize his entire world? Unlike the complacent Catholic Church canon Nicholas Copernicus, Rheticus was a lost soul in medieval Germany. Unable to keep his homosexuality secret, he fled one university post after another to avoid being hanged for the crime of sodomy. His struggle to publish the theory of a sun-centered universe amounts to an act of thought terrorism, a desperate attempt to undermine the unquestionable edifice of medieval thought and to forge the way to a new world.
This piece is a fully immersive theatrical experience: a glimpse into the distorted life and love of someone who is forced to live half his life in the shadows, with the Devil just at his heels.
(This piece invites the audience to stand and explore the space during the entire performance. It contains bright lights, full frontal nudity and images of sex and violence.)