Neo-Political Cowgirls Bring Out The Inner 'Voyeur' - 27 East

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Neo-Political Cowgirls Bring Out The Inner ‘Voyeur’

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Darren Phillips is spearheading a committee to launch a Hall of Fame for the Southampton School District. BY ERIN MCKINLEY

Darren Phillips is spearheading a committee to launch a Hall of Fame for the Southampton School District. BY ERIN MCKINLEY

Ellie Hattrick participated in an eMission project, where she had to work together with her classmates to save the residents of the island of Montserrat from a volcanic eruption in the face of an approaching hurricane. AMANDA BERNOCCO

Ellie Hattrick participated in an eMission project, where she had to work together with her classmates to save the residents of the island of Montserrat from a volcanic eruption in the face of an approaching hurricane. AMANDA BERNOCCO

Deer are "edge species," meaning they prefer open spaces abbutting forest, which is plentiful on the East End thanks to development. DANA SHAW

Deer are "edge species," meaning they prefer open spaces abbutting forest, which is plentiful on the East End thanks to development. DANA SHAW

Hallie Beeker participated in an eMission project, where she had to work with her classmates to save the residents of the island of Montserrat from a volcanic eruption in the face of an approaching hurricane. AMANDA BERNOCCO

Hallie Beeker participated in an eMission project, where she had to work with her classmates to save the residents of the island of Montserrat from a volcanic eruption in the face of an approaching hurricane. AMANDA BERNOCCO

The seventh grade students in Dennis Schleider's class participated in an eMission project, where they had to work together to save the residents of the island of Montserrat from a volcanic eruption in the face of an approaching hurricane. AMANDA BERNOCCO

The seventh grade students in Dennis Schleider's class participated in an eMission project, where they had to work together to save the residents of the island of Montserrat from a volcanic eruption in the face of an approaching hurricane. AMANDA BERNOCCO

Southampton teacher Matthew Shimkus is recognized at the January Board of Education meeting as the bronze medal of valor recipient for Suffolk County. BY ERIN MCKINLEY

Southampton teacher Matthew Shimkus is recognized at the January Board of Education meeting as the bronze medal of valor recipient for Suffolk County. BY ERIN MCKINLEY

Hallie Beeker, CaraLynn Caulfield, and Sophia Marano participated in an eMission project, where they had to work together to save the residents of the island of Montserrat from a volcanic eruption in the face of an approaching hurricane. AMANDA BERNOCCO

Hallie Beeker, CaraLynn Caulfield, and Sophia Marano participated in an eMission project, where they had to work together to save the residents of the island of Montserrat from a volcanic eruption in the face of an approaching hurricane. AMANDA BERNOCCO

Pre-k student Jasiu Gredysa works to drill holes in wood at the Southampton Montessori School. BY ERIN MCKINLEY

Pre-k student Jasiu Gredysa works to drill holes in wood at the Southampton Montessori School. BY ERIN MCKINLEY

Townline BBQ at the fifth annual Taste of Tuckahoe event on Friday night. BY ERIN MCKINLEY

Townline BBQ at the fifth annual Taste of Tuckahoe event on Friday night. BY ERIN MCKINLEY

Don Bouchard, of East Quogue, raises his concerns about the proposed budget at Tuesday night's board of education meeting. AMANDA BERNOCCO

Don Bouchard, of East Quogue, raises his concerns about the proposed budget at Tuesday night's board of education meeting. AMANDA BERNOCCO

Several parallel parking spaces along Bowden Square are to be removed to make way for the undisclosed bank's driveway, if plans get approved. ANISAH ABDULLAH

Several parallel parking spaces along Bowden Square are to be removed to make way for the undisclosed bank's driveway, if plans get approved. ANISAH ABDULLAH

The Nathaniel Rogers house is expected to reopen in 2019. AMANDA BERNOCCO

The Nathaniel Rogers house is expected to reopen in 2019. AMANDA BERNOCCO

The Nathaniel Rogers house is expected to reopen in 2019. AMANDA BERNOCCO

The Nathaniel Rogers house is expected to reopen in 2019. AMANDA BERNOCCO

author on Jul 29, 2014

“Voyeur” is a story about two little girls. It is a story about friendship. It is a story about loss.

But mostly it is a story about time passing. And, on some level, it is the story of Neo-Political Cowgirls founder Kate Mueth herself.

In her newest theater art installation, “Voyeur”—opening Thursday, July 31, at Parsons Blacksmith Shop in Springs, following the success of “Zima!” and “EVE”—intimate groups of onlookers will peek through the historic building’s windows in 20-minute intervals, watching a series of six site-specific vignettes featuring nine dancers that follow the birth, and destruction, of a best friendship.

While one of the girls grows older, the other stays frozen in time, watching her estranged friend move through life alongside the audience—physically separated by the fourth wall.

“This is not about sexuality or lesbianism. It’s about that first best friend you have,” Ms. Mueth said last Friday before rehearsal in Springs. “You fall in love, you do everything together. You mirror each other, you reflect each other. You expect things from each other. For me, those friendships are very fundamental in how we then go into our relationships. At least it was for me.”

Ms. Mueth’s first real friendship fell apart right around sixth grade, she said, while growing up in Dakota, Illinois—a small town on the border of Wisconsin, in the midst of potato fields. A young girl, she would often find herself out at night, roaming the streets, peering through windows not meant for her eyes.

She would watch her band teacher washing his dishes. A woman reading a book. A married couple sleeping in separate rooms. And what she saw made her question her own sense of normalcy.

“I was 8, an over-thinker at a young age,” she said. “It didn’t feel sneaky. It was just this unquenchable curiosity. I never caught anybody killing anyone or having sex—I wasn’t doing it for illicit reasons. I just had to know: Was there some secret I didn’t know about that people do? Is life different in other people’s homes?

“I think about 92 percent of the population really are voyeurs,” she continued. “Don’t tell me you don’t want to do it. Only since working on this have I started telling my dark history of looking in people’s windows—just so my neighbors know, I don’t do it anymore—but I hear a lot of people tell me, ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t believe you’re saying that. I love looking in people’s windows whenever I go to the city.’ See? Everybody does it.”

The production’s genesis came to Ms. Mueth in a matter of weeks, and casting was even faster. She quickly found lead actors Lua Li and Tennessee King, a pair of 9-year-old girls who are, in real life, the best of friends. They have spent nearly every day of their lives together, they explained before rehearsal, while seated on a knoll adjacent to the historic barn. And they mean it.

“We met through our moms,” Lua said. “Who are producers,” Tennessee interrupted.

“We were just in the tummies of our moms when we met,” Lua further explained. “So we were babies.”

These days, the young blonde and brunette are inseparable, radiating the same youthful energy as they talk over one another, their light eyes sparkling. As they rehearse their opening scene—during which they play tag, touch palms, lock fingers and lie down together on a blanket, looking up at the clouds—their bond is palpable. In fact, Ms. Mueth doesn’t need to direct that element of their performance at all, she said. It already exists naturally.

“I guess it’s kind of like real life for us,” Tennessee said. “Because we’re best friends, and because I might be moving to a different place. L.A.”

“So it’s kind of hard for us to hang out a lot,” Lua said.

“Well, it will be.”

Then, they both got quiet.

“I’m feeling sad,” Lua said. “Very sad.”

Tennessee dropped her eyes to the grass, not saying a word.

As the summer months wane, the girls will make the most of the time they have left together—playing in the pool, taking photos and dancing every day.

“What I’ve always found, in my life, the people we want to be friends with, no matter where we live, we make sure we stay friends,” Ms. Mueth comforted them. “There’s so many ways to do that now, right?”

Tennessee and Lua nodded, sharing a knowing glance and smile.

They will have their many pictures. Their countless memories.

And they will have “Voyeur.”

The Neo-Political Cowgirls will stage “Voyeur” starting Thursday, July 31, from 7 p.m. to 8:20 p.m. at Parsons Blacksmith Shop in Springs. Additional performances will be held on Friday and Saturday, August 1 and 2; and Thursday, August 7, through Saturday, August 9. Tickets are $15. For more information, visit npcowgirls.org.

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