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The Forum // Asher Hartman and the Gawdafful National Theater

Tuesday, June 15, 2021 at 5:00 PM

free entry
Online tickets not available

Tuesday, June 15 at 5PM

The Forum // Asher Hartman and the Gawdafful National Theater


free entry
Online tickets not available
Tuesday, June 15, 2021; 5pm PST
40 minute talk followed by 30 minutes of public conversation broadcast live at

Initially a six-hour play and live-in theatrical project scheduled to premiere at The Lab in April 2020, during lockdown “The Dope Elf” was reimagined as a quarantine serial drama formatted as six shorter films and an essay that will be viewable on The Lab’s website ( 

Please join Hartman and the players of Gawdafful National Theater in conversation on Tuesday, June 15 at 5pm as we discuss the process of creating – and recreating – The Dope Elf.

The Dope Elf is a tragic-comic saga of the lives of American otherworldly-everyday people whose souls have been deformed by the legacies of white supremacy. Meaninglessness, dissociation, unsatisfied lusting for power, partial orgasms, and quarantine blah underscore this serial jaunt through white power’s psychic legacy.

Asher Hartman is a transgender writer, director, and maker of live performances. His works, which combine strategies of theater and performance art, grapple with social and political issues in an era of chronic crisis.  He is the founder and chief beneficiary of Gawdafful National Theater, a group of artist-actors for whom he has written since 2010. He was, is, and will forever be, half of the performative duo Krystal Krunch (with Haruko Tanaka), who taught intuition-building to artists, activists, and interested others. Recent theatrical works include “The Dope Elf,” Yale Union, Portland, Oregon (2019), “Lost Privilege Company'' in Archive Fever: Lost Words, Buried Voices as part of USC’s Visions and Voices series and Pieter Performance Space (2018); “Sorry, Atlantis, Or Eden’s Achin’ Organ Seeks Revenge'' at Machine Project, LA (2017); “Mr. Akita,'' performed at Hauser & Wirth, Los Angeles, (2017), the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (2017) and the Tang Museum, New York (2015); and “The Silver, the Black, the Wicked Dance,'' LACMA (2016).

Gawdafful National Theater is a loose cabal of highly trained, strongly gifted actor-artists-insects committed to making complex, poetic, crass, and finely crafted theater. Through the rarified magic of "gawdafful" (high class god-awful), we risk confounding, disorienting, and piquing audiences while insisting on intellectual rigor, exploration, and emotional depth. Gawdafful is devoted to the beautiful, the ugly, the out of line, the old and awkward in theater and its traditions, while inviting in ideas from performance and intuitive practices. We are interdisciplinary, intergenerational, architecturally minded, sensual beings, with a deep love for expansive performance. The Dope Elf features performers Michael Bonnabel, Philip Littell, Zut Lorz, Jasmine Orpilla, Paul Outlaw, Joe Seely, and Jacqueline Wright.

The Forum is an experiment in creating discourse within the context of isolation. Art creates a space for reconsidering our knowledge across various social and professional fields. It asks us: Why do we perceive things the way we do? What are we living for? How can we reimagine our relationships to the human and non-human world? The Forum proposes that the project of freedom is a project of making a world with others. So, we invite you to help us answer: what can we do now?

Please bring your ideas, proposals, questions to discuss following the talk.
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