Anna Kohler’s Mytho? Lure of Wildness

2016 Fay Chandler Creativity Grant

“A theatrical work about what looking feels like, to the muse and to her creator.” – Hilton Als, The New Yorker

About the Project

Mytho? Lure of Wildness is a surround-sensorial theatrical experience/experiment, conceived and performed by MIT faculty member Anna Kohler and directed by lecturer Caleb Hammond. It is an experiment, a study of the beast within, of beauty and its transformation from young and fresh to old and worn, but not resigned.

In the workshop phase, the production has delved into the areas of a stage actor’s performance that overlap with cinematography and a painter’s vision of the human model, and aims to bring the work done with performers (including several MIT students and alums) to its fullest performative realization by creating a full sensory experience. The project has developed and adapted immersive technology to surround the audience with the aromas of Morocco, Paris and the South of France, and continues to develop autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) as a performance technique. By incorporating emerging scientific technologies with avant-garde approaches to performance, the performance aims to inspire MIT students and the community at large to continue to emphasize the potential for finding art in science and using science in art.

Mytho? is suspended between actual experience and fictional material. It is an original play/movie, a fluid staging of the model’s world and memory scenes inspired by material from Robert Bresson’s films and writings, Tennessee Williams’ plays and Anna Kohler’s own experiences as a painter’s model in France. The piece was workshopped at MIT in 2015-16 with a team that includes undergraduates, graduate students and recent alums, and is now diving into finalizing the work and incorporating the cutting-edge research of the Media Lab into a live theatrical performance that fully submerges the audience into the world being presented onstage and all around them.

Presented by the MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST) .



Mytho? Lure of Wildness (world premiere)
December 9 – 22, 2016
Abrons Arts Center
466 Grand Street, New York, NY

Mytho? Lure of Wildness (preview performances)
Friday, October 28, 2016 / 8:00pm
Saturday, October 22, 2016 / 2:00pm and 8:00pm
Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
949 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA

A woman, naked on a podium, being carefully and bluntly scrutinized by the probing eyes of the painters in the room. Who is looking at who? Who is more vulnerable? The extremely high level of charged back and forth in this situation of interdependent scrutiny demands this strategy of sensual immersion for the audience as well.


Ben Bloomberg, Opera of the Future Research Group, MIT Media Lab

Caleb Hammond, Music and Theater Arts

Sabine Levet, Global Studies and Languages


Director Anna Kohler, Senior Lecturer in Music and Theater Arts, is a stage and screen author and actor. Kohler studied at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria and received a diploma in theater and aesthetic studies from the Université VIII Vincennes in Paris, France. Joining the New York experimental theater scene in 1982, Kohler has worked on stage with some of America’s most respected playwrights, actors and directors. She was a longtime collaborator and associate member of America’s foremost experimental theater company, The Wooster Group. Her 2003 role as Natalya in the Group’s revival of Brace Up! was praised in The New Yorker as the “emotional center” of the show. Her film work includes Raoul Ruiz’s The Golden Boat, Hal Hartley’s The Book of Life, Bruno de Almeida’s On the Run and Peter Sellars’ The Cabinet of Dr. Ramirez, among others. As an author/director, she has conceived and directed plays that have been performed in Austria, Germany, Brazil and the United States.

In recent years, her focus on teaching has become an integral part of her artistic life. Her distinctive style of teaching is based on the unique combination of her work in both traditional and modern theater in Europe and her work at the forefront of experimental theater in the US. She has adapted, translated and directed productions of Young Jean Lee’s plays The Appeal and Pullman, WI, Chekov’s Uncle Vanya and Schnitzler’s La Ronde, and conceived and continues to direct a play reading series called It’s Alive with the participation of faculty and students at MIT.

Recent performance credits include directing Concert Suite for Henry V by William Walton with the MIT Symphony Orchestra, performing in John Jesurun’s Chang in A Void Moon – The Incubator Episodes, touring with Richard Maxwell’s Ode to the Man who Kneels to Bonn and Brazil and performing in Yesterday Happened: Remembering H.M., at Central Square Theater in Cambridge. Her translations of plays by Richard Foreman, Rene Pollesch, Richard Maxwell, Elfriede Jelinek and others have been performed all over the world. She presented at the International Symposium “Infinite Memory – Performance and Archive” in Kiel, Germany, and brought this symposium to MIT in 2014, incorporating a new collaborative piece with ACT Faculty Emerita Joan Jonas. In the spring of 2014, she also reprised her role as Mrs. Fangitu in Chang in a Void Moon at Incubator Arts Space in NYC. This spring she performed in I am bleeding all over the place, written and directed by Brooke O’Harra and presented at La Mama Theater in NYC.

Caleb Hammond, Lecturer in Music and Theater Arts, has worked variously as a director, actor and visual artist at venues worldwide, including the Nishida Art Museum in Toyoma, Japan, the New Haven festival of Arts and Ideas, Satellite Art Fair Miami, Highways Performance Space Santa Monica, The Kitchen NYC, Maison des Arts Paris and the National Theater of Hungary.
Hapi Phace has been a member of and/or guest performer and/or dancer with companies, individual performance artists and filmmakers, including the Ridiculous Theatrical Company, Big Man Arts, DanceNoise, Edgar Oliver, Ann Magnuson, Ethyl Eichelberger, Karen Finley, John Kelly, Kembra Phaler and Charles Atlas—to name a few.

In the Media

The New Yorker: In Search of Lost Times

The New Yorker: Reality Theatre