By Seth Eisen In 2006 after Remy Charlip had a stroke I was given the task of packing and moving all of his artwork and personal items to storage and to help facilitate the creation of a list of every item in the collection- a massive task. I worked for several months to support the […]
Seth Eisen / Eyezen Presents
About This Artist
Seth Eisen (Artistic Director) is a San Francisco-based artist creating a hybrid of live performance and visual media as a vehicle to broaden human perspectives and effect social change. He performed as a member of the Butoh companies Harupin–Ha and Ink Boat from 1994-99. From 2000-10 he toured with Keith Hennessy and Circo Zero across the US and Europe. His solo performances and installation projects have been featured in the San Francisco Bay Area at The Oakland Museum of California, Yerba Buena Center, as well as being presented in art spaces on both coasts. For the past 20 years, Eisen staged performance pieces, street spectacles and installations and appeared in a number of collaborative productions created with other Bay Area artists. In 2007, Eisen founded Eye Zen Presents, a theater company that promotes social change by linking Queer history and aesthetics to contemporary Queer culture. The company’s productions have focused on recovering the lost history of Queer ancestors whose lives have been erased from the historical record. The work engenders an aesthetic that communicates across multiple genres and frameworks, blurring boundaries and expanding the dialogue between theater and visual art.
Eye Zen Presents: Mission, Vision and History
Eye Zen Presents promotes social change by employing the arts to reclaim the history, stories and traditions of Queer culture. Founded by Seth Eisen in 2007, Eye Zen creates visually dynamic, interdisciplinary devised theater productions that promote community dialogues on a wide-range of LGBTQ historical, social and political issues. All of Eye Zen’s productions have resonated deeply with LGBT audiences because they artistically examine periods when social and political repression erased most of the evidence of the nation’s LGBT community from the pages of history. In addition to artistically expressing and recapturing our community’s little-known past, our productions have explored the many self-protective disguises queer people have worn to conceal their private lives from the public.
Artistic Director Seth Eisen began creating original work in 1994 and, in 2007, Eisen founded Eye Zen Presents to raise funds to support the production of Blackbird: Honoring a Century of Pansy Divas, and became a fiscally sponsored client of San Francisco’s CounterPULSE. This production examined the lives of seven culturally diverse Queer artists of the 20th century such as disco diva Sylvester, New Wave operatic siren Klaus Nomi, film and stage star Danny Kaye and Brazil’s Ney Matogrosso, whose work subverted their era’s prevailing cultural norms by inventing innovative ways to be out, queer and vocal. Blackbird premiered at the 2010 National Queer Arts Festival and was subsequently staged 11 times in San Francisco.
In 2011-12, Eye Zen originated Buffet Flats: Queering Slow Food, a series of 5 sold-out performance events that took place in individual homes and at community sites. A racially diverse creative team of Queer actors, musicians, performance artists, chefs, farmers and ecology specialists worked with Eye Zen to stage these events. Part Queer history cabaret, part dinner theater and part environmental education program, they informed the audience about the Pansy Craze of the 1920s, Gay history, local food sources and diverse culinary traditions within the LGBT community.
About Homo File
Homo File, a multidisciplinary theatrical production chronicling the life of Samuel Steward (1909-1993). Steward was a college professor, a prolific author of homoerotic fiction, an influential tattoo artist, and a sexual rebel who lived in the Bay Area for 30 years before dying at age 84, nearly forgotten. Homo File was developed at CounterPULSE as work-in-progress through the ARC program where we created the work during our residency (May-September 2012). In September 2012 we staged eight sold-out performances at CounterPULSE of a 40-minute work-in progress. Since then the creative team has been developing a 90-minute production that will premiere in May 2014.
Since 2007, our productions have told the stories of little known and under-recognized LGBT people whose lives contributed to the formation of contemporary Queer culture. Our current production, Homo File, presents Samuel Steward’s complex life through a devised theater piece incorporating, puppetry, live and recorded music, visual projections and other multi-media forms. It is the first full-length performance about this unique pre-Stonewall pioneer who was connected to many gay luminaries but not widely known.
Homo File’s chronological narrative structure highlights the key moments of Samuel Steward’s life, as he evolves over the course of the Twentieth Century through his friendships with author Gertrude Stein and her partner Alice B. Toklas, revolutionary sex researcher Alfred Kinsey, playwright Thornton Wilder, renowned gay photographer George Platt Lynes and numerous other LGBTQ luminaries. Steward’s life story reflects the experiences of many Queer ancestors whose lives have been erased from the historical record. His writings provide a window into the life of a gay man who accepted his sexual orientation and examined his sexual impulses as sources of self-knowledge and artistic vision. Steward’s writings are a testament to how difficult it was for earlier generations of LGBTQ men and women to pursue self-empowerment and achieve self-acceptance while living inside a homophobic culture defined by prejudice and intolerance. By refusing to submit to social oppression, Steward paved the way for future generations of LGBTQ Civil Rights advocates and contemporary Queer culture.
Books By Samuel Steward (Phil Andros)
As Samuel M. Steward:
- Pan and the fire-bird (1930; short stories)
- Angels on the Bough (1936)
- Dear Sammy: Letters from Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas (1977, ed.)
- Parisian Lives (1984; novel)
- Chapters from an autobiography (1981; memoir)
- Murder Is Murder Is Murder (1985; Gertrude Stein-Alice B. Toklas Mystery)
- The Caravaggio Shawl (1989; Gertrude Stein-Alice B. Toklas Mystery)
- Bad Boys and Tough Tattoos: a Social History of the Tattoo with Gangs, Sailors, and Street-Corner Punks, 1950-1965 (1990)
- Understanding the Male Hustler (1991)
- Pair of Roses (1993)
As Phil Andros:
- The Motorcyclist (1953)
- $tud (1966)
- The Joy Spot (1969)
- My Brother, the Hustler (1970; later published as My Brother, My Self)
- San Francisco Hustler (1970; later published as The Boys in Blue)
- When in Rome (1971; later published as Roman Conquests)
- Renegade Hustler (1972; later published as Shuttlecock)
- Below the Belt and Other Stories (1975)
- The Greek Way (1975; later published as Greek Ways)
- Different Strokes: Stories (1984)
Books about Samuel Steward:
August 26, 2016
June 4, 2014
BROTHERS By Martin Schwartz These are impressions by playwright/theater director Martin Schwartz about the Work in Progress showing we presented a month before the show opened. A hot Sunday a few weeks ago, March 30. I walk the block and a half from where I live to CounterPULSE for a work-in-progress showing of Homo File. […]
When I saw my college art instructor Seth Eisen at the Homo File Salon, his greeting was warm and sincere in his thanks for my support. Nevertheless his genuine warmth couldn’t hide some genuine curiosity as to my presence. He asked me to come up with a few words as to what Sam Steward’s significance […]
September 29, 2012
Well the run has been amazing thus far with sell out houses and very enthusiastic audiences for both Homo File and FML. We got wonderful press coverage and appeared in several blogs. Here are a few. A fabulous article by Kimberly Chun in the SF Chronicle 96 hours Really interesting article by Richard Dodds in […]
September 21, 2012