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A VJ and a Theater Company Walk into a Bar...

AU SOC professor Kylos Brannon and Rorschach Theater's Jenny McConnell Frederick share an insider’s perspective into their production collaborations.

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Jenny McConnell Frederick and Kylos Brannon on Media in the Mix

This past week, American University School of Communication (AU SOC) professor Kylos Brannon and Jenny McConnell Frederick, founder and co-artistic director of Rorschach Theater, joined host Grace Ibrahim to share an insider’s perspective into their production collaborations. Brannon’s experience in directing and producing videos led him to become a renowned VJ and multimedia artist. Brannon and McConnell have worked together on multiple Rorschach Theater projects including Dissonant City, a psychographic production exploring the music history of DC. 

Dissonant City was born out of Rorschach’s pandemic experience. As a small theater company, it knew it had to pivot during the shutdown. Most theaters moved to online and Zoom production, but Rorschach saw a deep need for people to connect and experience the old in new ways. Dissonant City’s Psychogeographies offered a way for subscribers to interact with the art, history and stories of Washington, DC. Each season includes seven episodes that intertwine to lead up to a final production, all bathed in magical realism. With DC as the core inspiration, Brannon and McConnell have invited the city’s inhabitants to step outside what they know and experience the city in a whole new way. 

Each month, a package arrives in subscribers’ mailboxes with a location and snippets of a story related to that place. The project helped get people out of their houses and experience local history through animated storytelling. For example, one of the first boxes sent participants to Rock Creek Church Cemetery and included an old letter, a sprig of lavender, a map and photos with handwritten notes. As participants journeyed through the cemetery, each element played a central role in bringing the story to life. After seven months of experiential stories and exploring, the project culminates in a final production with live music, multimedia performances and community.  

Want to learn more about this season of Psychogeographies? Check out episode 11 of Media in the Mix.