Keenan Tyler Oliphant is a Theatre-maker and Director from Cape Town, South Africa. Keenan is a founding member of Mixing Bowl Productions, an underground music theatre company that focuses on the promotion of alternate and contemporary music theatre works. As Artistic Director he has produced and directed premier devised pieces In-between and Private Parts at the South African National Arts Festival. Since relocating Keenan has directed collaborative pieces at festivals including Dixon Place’s Hot Fest, Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Festival, The International Human Rights Arts Festival. He was a part of the New Ohio Producers Club 2020, a member of the Clubbed Thumb Directing Fellowship 2020/21 and the Drama League Directing Fellowship 2021/2022. Keenan is the Associate Director of Hadestown (Broadway), Oratorio for Living Things (Ars Nova), and was the assistant director for the Bengson's work The Broken Ear Set-list (St Ann’s Warehouse). He has served as second assistant director to Rachel Chavkin (Moby Dick A.R.T Cambridge 2019), Raja Feather Kelly (We’re Gonna Die Second Stage Theater New York 2020) . MFA Directing [Columbia University];BMus Honours Jazz Vocals [UCT];BA Drama, English Jazz [UCT]
ABOUT THEATRE MAKING
As a Theatre-Maker and Director, the confrontation between Southern African storytelling rituals and western theatre traditions frames my process. Western forms hold artistic mediums ideologically hostage; my work merges disciplines, art mediums and forms in an attempt to expand the global understanding of theatre and to dismantle and destabilize theatrical expectations. I belongs to a lineage of South African communal theatre-making and storytelling. In these traditions the ancestors call the storyteller and healer to guide the education and spiritual life of their community. I think of my role as theatre-maker in the same way as that of the storyteller: simultaneously exchanging histories and futures to create spaces of healing, learning, mourning and celebration through performance.
I treat theatre-making as ritual, that is engaged with the unconscious and parts of the self. I draw on elements of Southern African musical structures, Jazz, dance, movement and physical improvisation to foreground the body and the visceral, unconscious experience of its existence. My work offers movement as the physical, intuitive counterpart to the intellect of language and I am attracted to work that holds space for the human experience that exists outside of language and definition; work that lives somewhere in the unknown and/or spiritual world. He gravitates to work that seeks to dismantle conventional form and structure—work that is deeply invested in truly asking questions regardless of their ability to be answered rather than work that is a series of statements. By engaging with performance as an expression of the spiritual, I hope to create pieces that speak to my background , honour my ancestry and invite people to deeply contemplate the complexities of the self and each other.