A champion for ensembles

Jeffrey Mosser (he.him) grew up on a steady diet of punk rock, Laurel & Hardy, and putting his cart back at the grocery store. Curious about all things breaking the fourth wall, he found himself training in clown, puppetry, and Neo-Futurism to better understand how to shorten the distance between actor and audience.

Principally a director, he aims to understand ensemble-based theatre practices through application and research. He hosts the From the Ground Up podcast where he interviews members of collaboratively creative companies from around the world about how they sustain their work artistically, financially, and socially He has trained with Augusto Boal, Liz Lerman, Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre, Pig Iron School for Advanced Performance Training, the Center for Performance and Civic Practice, ImprovBoston, Dominique Serrand, Giovanni Fusetti, Double Edge Theater, and with the inmates from Shakespeare Behind Bars. As a Co-Founder of Project: Project Theatre Ensemble he applied these practices in site-specific and immersive experiences. Preferring generating to interpreting, Project: Project explored theatrical form, aesthetics, and the role of the audience.

He has contributed to new play development at Lookingglass Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, O’Neill Theater Center, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, and Actors Theatre of Louisville with directors and playwrights including Anne Bogart, Jamie Castañeda, David Catlin, Trip Cullman, Sean Daniels, Michael Friedman, Lauren Gunderson, Israel Hicks, Mike Lew, Kirk Lynn, Mark Masterson, Aaron Posner, Jessica Thebus, and, Mary Zimmerman.

Favorite directing credits include Shiver: A Fairytale of Anxious Proportions. A Phobic Folklorist Fugues the Fuck Out, How May I Connect You? (Or, Scenes in the Key of D:\), and What Are You Doing Here? with Project: Project Theatre Ensemble, bobraushenbergamerica and Secret in the Wings at the National High School Institute, 44 Plays for 44 Presidents at Bad Habit Productions, T: An MBTA Musical (Broadway World Best Musical, Best Director 2011, 2012) at American Repertory Theatre’s Club Oberon, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead at the Footlight Club, and Imagination, Theatre for Two: The Wedding Party, and A Threepenny Space Opera at Actors Theatre of Louisville.

Jeffrey is a proud member of the Network of Ensemble Theaters, board member of Quasimondo Physical Theatre, Associate Lecturer at UW-Milwaukee, the Artistic Producer: Training & Audience Engagemet at Milwaukee Repertory Theater, and a hobbyist pumpkin carver — which is not on his CV.

MFA Directing — Northwestern University

a manifesto

And now, a list of beliefs to be completed by a Performer in the dark to an Audience with a flashlight.

[To optimize your experience, print this out first.] 

(The PERFORMER invites an AUDIENCE of one or more into a room (ideally without windows). They ask an AUDIENCE member to hold a flashlight. The PERFORMER then turns out the light in the room and begins a strenuous activity to be maintained throughout the piece (ie. push-ups). The PERFORMER then reads the following:)

PERFORMER: Can you please turn the flashlight on?
(If they don’t turn the flashlight on, the performance is over. If they do, please continue.)
Can you please shine it on my paper?

I believe that the medium of theatre is culture.

I believe that every human condition is a culture worthy of art.

I believe that there is transcendence in transparency.

I believe that the human condition is best explored through fantastic events.  I believe fantastic events can be ordinary made extraordinary via theatrical qualities and human virtuosity.

I believe that humans are virtuosos and I am fascinated when you are fascinated.

I believe that the mundane has tremendous untapped potential.

I believe that theatre can frequently accomplish a better connection with Lo-Tech/Hi-Energy. Thanks for holding the light.

I believe that every rehearsal room is the chance to create a utopian society.

I believe that my sleeves should always be rolled up because there is always work to do.

I believe that no art happens without a time limit.

I believe that the act of touching is an act of giving life.

I believe that the fourth wall is fucked up.

I believe that anyone who says improv isn’t art because it can’t be repeated isn’t someone I want to have over for dinner.

I believe in the fantastic, the post-dramatic, and the anachronistic as ways for the audience to not only see themselves on stage, but understand themselves.

I believe that we all have the ability to express ourselves. That everyone can write, that everyone can create. I believe that generation and performance is possible by and from everyone.

I believe that all theatre is about three relationships: Actor/Actor. Actor/Audience. Audience/Audience.

I believe that Viola Spolin was right when she wrote: (Hand this text to AUDIENCE member and kindly ask, “Can you read the highlighted part?”)

AUDIENCE “The role of the audience must become a concrete part of theatre training.” [Thank you, AUDIENCE. Please hand this text back to The PERFORMER to finish reading.]

PERFORMER: In fact, I still cry sometimes when I read pages 12-14 in her book Improvisation for the Theatre.

I believe that every audience member’s role is unique, just as every character played by every actor.

I believe that the audience wants the play to succeed. Their role, the work they do as the audience, is to support the outcome that they hope for. I want to put the audience into this place of engagement. You do want me to continue doing push-ups (or other physical activity), yes?

I believe the imagination of the audience is more powerful than the electricity powering a lighting instrument.

I believe that every moment on stage is bigger than it is because it is exactly what it is and simultaneously representing something greater. And if it isn’t, then I am disappointed.

Please turn the light off.

(The AUDIENCE assistant ideally turns off the flashlight.)

I believe in the dark, we become more human because we know anything can happen.

I believe we can attain this in the theatre.


Hip Hop Lead Project

A series of music videos addressing the lead poison crisis in Milwaukee, WI

Shiver: A Fairytale of Anxious Proportions

What do we have in common with an obscure Grimm Brother’s fairytale? Turns out, a lot.

The Compass

Would you let an App make a decision for you?

HowlRound Essays

Research into Immersive and Ensemble-Based processes.