What is meaningful community art? In this film, the artist-led variety show Whoop Dee Doo—co-directed by Jaimie Warren and Matt Roche—collaborates with the Urban Youth Theater Ensemble to produce a one-day-only performance of An Abominable Thawt (2015) at Abrons Arts Center on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Developed through workshops over the course of two months, the show’s original concepts and characters emerge through a series of improvisational games between teenagers and artists. Local performers are also enlisted, such as the singer Joseph Keckler, the tuvan throat singer Robert McLaughlin, and members of The Japanese Folk Dance Institute of New York. The week before the show, additional Whoop Dee Doo artists arrive from around the United States to help contribute ideas, craft costumes, and build a 360-degree installation out of newspaper, cardboard, and painter’s plastic. Performed on the second day of spring, the wildly colorful and energetic show features abominable snowmen, a traditional Japanese masked prison dance, game shows, a larval magic act, and a frozen set that slowly thaws. The latest in a series of performances stretching back to 2006, Whoop Dee Doo originated in Kansas City and has taken its “faux public access television show” on the road to cities such as Baltimore, Portland, Philadelphia, Omaha, Cincinnati, Chicago, San Antonio, Miami, Montreal, and Malmo, among others. “Whoop Dee Doo accomplishes everything that I would want to get out of an art experience,” says Warren, while Roche adds “It’s the main source in my life for personal growth.” With the goal of creating unexpected and endearing experiences that local artists, underserved youth, and audiences can share, Whoop Dee Doo breaks down stereotypes between art and entertainment in a chaotic mix of cross-cultural and cross-generational collaboration.
Jaimie Warren (b. 1980, Waukesha, Wisconsin, USA) lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
Warren is co-director of Whoop Dee Doo with Matt Roche (1978, Hammond, Indiana, USA).
CREDITS | ART21 New York Close Up Created & Produced by: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Editor: Michelle Chang. Cinematography: Amitabh Joshi, John Marton, Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Sound: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Additional Camera & Sound: Drew Mandinach & Whoop Dee Doo. Design: CRUX Design & Open. Music: John Ancheta, Gary U.S. Bonds, Joseph Keckler, Robert McLaughlin, Matt Roche, Masaru Satô & Silentó. Artwork & Photography: Whoop Dee Doo. Urban Youth Theater Ensemble: Sophie Bomeisler, Armani Cooper, Gabriel Cubero-Albisa, Esther Estrella, Brittany Gonzalez, Angelica Jacobs, Emmanuela Joseph, Samara Lozada, Justin Maldonado, Cira Merlin, Ricardo Merlin, Stephen Moore, Gareth Nolasco Tupper, Chester Pollard, Yasmeen Vargas & Kira Viera. Thanks: Jessy Abid, Abrons Art Center, Julio Badel, Kim Cox, Takako Funada, Lindsey Griffith, Jeila Gueramian, Chimmy Anne Gunn, Jon Harper, Sara Haug, The Japanese Folk Dance Institute of New York, Carl Johnson, Millie Kapp, Joseph Keckler, Drew Mandinach, Mary McLaughlin, Dennis McLaughlin, Robert McLaughlin, Rie Morimoto, Kevin Mooney, Anna Platt, Allen Riley, Mariah Robertson, Matt Roche, Teddy Rosen, Erin Sheehy, Carolyn Sickles, Momo Suzuki, Rieko Takamiya, Josh Tonsfeldt, Jaimie Warren, Naoko Wowsugi & Emma Zurer. An ART21 Workshop Production. © ART21, Inc. 2015. All rights reserved.