Petra (2018)

A masochistic autobiographical meditation on desire, Petra examines race, sex, and power through the lens of service and unrequited love. Directed by Dean Moss, with music performed live by Composer Samita Sinha, and inspired by the Rainer Fassbinder film “The bitter Tears of Petra von Kant”, Petra merges the imagined and real lives of its all women immigrant cast, drawing parallels between theirs, his, and the film’s, queer, anxiety-laced explorations of ambition, subjection and dispossession. Simultaneously, (taking inspiration from “She whose head is severed” - a Hindu goddess associated with self-sacrifice, spiritual awakening, and the power of the erotic - Moss questions the institutional processes of diversity management, highlighting not only its aspirational goals, but also its self-serving strategies. The implementation of which both support and undermine projects not unlike his own. Petra was commissioned by Performance Space 122, and premiered in its newly renovated main theater January 2018.  Petra was nominated for a 2018 BESSIE Award for Outstanding Performance by Kaneza Schaal.


Petra has been commissioned by Performance Space 122 and to date has been made possible in part by a 2014 Doris Duke Impact Award, a 2016 MAPFund Production Grant, a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Residency and an LMCC Governors Island Residency. Petra received a Planning Residency from City of Asylum, Pittsburgh, and a 2017 Production Residency from Topaz Arts. Petra has additionally received funding from Women & Performance Journal, The James E Robinson Foundation, and The Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Emergency Grant. Also individual donations from the following generous supporters: Ryutaro Ishikane and Kathryn Sanders, Jessica Bruder, Donald Verrilli, Christina Yang, Angela Dufresne, Michelle Lippitt, Florent Morellet, Shiho Tonoshima, Davidson Norris and Candy Buckley, Glenn Ligon, Lisa Evreinoff, David Brown, Elise Bernhardt, Vallejo Gantner, Tana Hargest/Black Market, Diane Samuels, Rachel Cooper, Alejandro Estrella, Cori Olinghouse, Carlos Santiso, Bill Kux, Marva L. Goldsmith & Associates, Doug Rauch, Pam Rubin/Counseling with Pam, Jana Feinman, Nanette De Cillis, Joanne Ungar, Jae Ryung Noh, Virginia Johnson, Marya Warshaw, and Charlotte Mendelaar.

Cast and Credits

Concept, Direction, Choreography, Audio/Visual Design: Dean Moss
Performing Collaborators: Mina Nishimura, Sari Nordman, Kaneza Schaal, Samita Sinha and Paz Tanjuaquio

Video Collaborators: Julia Cumming, Cassie Mey, Marya Warshaw and Asher Woodworth

Lighting Design: Zack Tinkelman

Original Music: Samita Sinha

Recorded Song “Love Letter” by Juanita Rodgers/Lynn Hollings

    Sung by Samita Sinha, with Sunny Jain and Grey Mcmurray (music video)

Original Recorded Song “He is dead” by Julia Cumming (music video)

Video Production: Gametophyte Inc.

Recorded Music: The Platters, The Walker Brothers

Dramaturgy: Joshua Lubin-Levy

Stage Management: Meredith Belis

Project Assistance: Kacie Chang

Promotional Image: Hyangsuk Choi

Production Assistance: Ebony Kennedy

Women & Performance

Gametophyte Inc. acknowledges the tireless support of its Board of Directors: Joshua Lubin-Levy, Charlotte Mendelaar, Christopher Warnick, and Marya Warshaw.

The numerous Fassbinder parallels can be fascinating, but the work turns far more pointed as it winds down with a solo for Tanjuaquio with Sinha leading three audience members in a vocal chorus. Their text, intoned in unison, rolls out familiar lines of institutional interrogation meant to discern an artist's or cultural project's degree of attention to programming diversity and community engagement. Tanjuaquio's dance--saying nothing particularly translatable to the linear, anxious mind--pushes ever onward. The dancer skims right over the surface of this score just as, I suspect, Moss wants us to know he will always prefer to do.infinitebody118.htmlinfinitebody118.htmlinfinitebody118.htmlinfinitebody118.htmlinfinitebody118.htmlinfinitebody118.htmlinfinitebody118.htmlinfinitebody118.htmlinfinitebody118.htmlinfinitebody118.htmlshapeimage_2_link_0shapeimage_2_link_1shapeimage_2_link_2shapeimage_2_link_3shapeimage_2_link_4shapeimage_2_link_5shapeimage_2_link_6shapeimage_2_link_7shapeimage_2_link_8
The result is a meditation on the power dynamics and odd obsessions and anxieties consuming performers and performance makers. Rather than recreating Fassbinder’s vehemently passionate and nonchalantly aggressive atmosphere, Moss constructs one of his own: a bare, unguarded space that slowly lilts at the rate of an emerging idea. The work, again in opposition to the primary source material, is a piece to think with, to examine and consider, because if you just soak it in you may miss the depth and heart of the matter.stagebuddy118.htmlstagebuddy118.htmlstagebuddy118.htmlstagebuddy118.htmlstagebuddy118.htmlstagebuddy118.htmlstagebuddy118.htmlstagebuddy118.htmlshapeimage_4_link_0shapeimage_4_link_1shapeimage_4_link_2shapeimage_4_link_3shapeimage_4_link_4shapeimage_4_link_5shapeimage_4_link_6

Eva Yaa Asentewaa, InfiniteBody

Aaron Canter, StageBuddy

photo: Hatnim Lee

photo: Hatnim Lee

photo: Julieta Cervantes

photo: Ryutaro Mishima

photo: Hatnim Lee

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photo: Hatnim Lee