Night Keeper


Aaron Landsman

Landsman instigates projects that integrate people, language, space, and time. His departure point is live performance, though his work sometimes iterates to become a curriculum, a book, or a series of maps.

Artist Bio

During the 60-minute performance, viewers sit in a stark industrial space as performers Jehan O. Young and David Guzman circulate around them. The two perform a series of short scenes and passages that accumulate and interweave. A parent talks to a child who cannot sleep; a figure in darkness ruminates on the similar luminosity of lighting bugs and cell phones; another comments on the comings and goings in her building at night; a third scene walks a line between surveillance and protection. Artist Jess Barbagallo is creating monumental pen-and-ink drawings, one for each scene, some of which are animated by designer Jeanette Yew so they seem to take flight. In between stories and dialogues, the performers ask viewers to enter their own text, drawings, memory maps and lists of words into notebooks placed on their chairs. Yew’s lighting design shifts the feeling of the space alongside the text; the streetlights in a city park by turns mimic a 1980s video game, then fireflies. Norman Westberg’s sound score of guitar loops and samples is by turns delicate and intense. Choreography for the work is created with Bessie Award winner Hilary Clark. What accumulates is an appreciation for how we are bound together by the passage of time, even if our view of one another is obscured, even if we occupy space differently. Night Keeper seeks the invisible ways we constitute community. As we reenter a world changed by COVID-19 and by reckonings with race, culture, and war, we are asked to reconsider what it means to be together, and who’s with us, regardless of how distanced.

Sustainable Development Goals icon SDG Goal icon for Sustainable Cities and Communities.
Photo by Shawn Poynter.

Aaron Landsman

New York, NY

Landsman is a theater artist, researcher, and teacher based in New York City. He is an Abrons Arts Center Social Practice Artist-in-Residence, a 2017 Guggenheim Fellow and a Princeton Arts Fellow. His performance works have been presented at many venues in New York and other US cities, including the Chocolate Factory Theater, Abrons Arts Center, HERE Arts Center, Project Row Houses, and Z Space, as well as in the Netherlands, Norway, Morocco, and Serbia. His 20-year arts and advocacy working group, Perfect City, engages young adults on New York City’s Lower East Side to build creative community conversations on belonging and equity. His book The City We Make Together, coauthored with Mallory Catlett, was published by the University of Iowa Press in 2022. He has performed with the Elevator Repair Service theater ensemble, Tim Etchells, Tory Vazquez, and Andrea Kleine. Landsman’s fiction, essays, and poetry have appeared in The Evergreen Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, River Teeth, Theater Magazine, and The Brooklyn Rail. He teaches theater and Interdisciplinary Humanities courses at Princeton University and New York University. Publication credits include The Evergreen Review, River Teeth, and Theater Magazine. He is developing a curriculum based on his City Council Meeting project along with three new performance works.

Photo by Shawn Poynter.