Kelley A Meister

Kelley A Meister, Naked Stages Artist 2009

Seducing Those Who Are Afraid

by: Kelley A Meister
directed by: Natalie (Nastalie) Bogira

“Everyone feels queer in some sense of the word.” –Holly Hughes

Kelley A Meister creates site-specific time-based media installations that merge spontaneity, accessibility, and a hand-crafted aesthetic. In Seducing Those Who Are Afraid, Kelley’s journey for self-approval invites the audience to explore their shared vulnerabilities by encouraging full audience participation. A chorus of Kelleys fills the space as confessions of fear and questions of love and safety are asked and answered.

Seducing Those Who Are Afraid came in fits and starts. The title comes from Sharon Hayes’ captivating verbal invitation to collaborators for her guerrilla performance piece Revolutionary Love 2: I Am Your Best Fantasy, September 2008.

“I work as spontaneously as possible. I rarely do more than one take with video, but that one take can be upwards of sixty minutes in length. In working with the chorus, we engage in theater exercises that build trust, improvisational skills, and ease with movement before we dig into the scripts/choreography at each rehearsal. I allow my intuition to guide my decisions, I track my emotional responses to the work, and I invite others’ responses and ideas into the process. In order to work intuitively, I also spend a great deal of time writing, reflecting, and researching. I spend hours in front of my computer screen, watching videos of other artists, musicians, and other relevant work. My bibliography ranges from post-structuralists and affect theorists to queer/feminist theory, bios, and narratives.”

“Accordingly, my performances rely on improvisation and audience participation. I react spontaneously and intuitively to the event by improvising lines. Correspondingly, audience participation demands flexibility on my part as performer and director of the performative situation. Direct interaction with the audience in live performance creates possibilities for development of the work within the time frame of the work itself. The performances build on the ideas of power, vulnerability, alienation, assistance, and deconstructions of binary space while simultaneously creating a new space that can best be described as Queer.”

Kelley A Meister has performed in dance and piano recitals, speech team tournaments, school plays, marching band competitions, as a storyteller, and on the streets across the US and Europe. In 2005, ze was a founding member of the radical multi-gendered, sex-positive, queer-positive, feminist political performance troupe BenchPress Burlesque. For two years, ze traveled and performed with BPB throughout the Midwest and the upper east coast. Concurrently, Kelley worked on hir MFA in Visual Studies from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and created a mixture of video, performance, and site-specific installation work. Presently, Kelley has joined forces with two other former BenchPress Burlesque members to create Wreck Family Productions. The trio performs around Minneapolis at myriad queer performance cabarets, including Dykes Do Drag, Queertopia, and the Dirty Queer Show. They are currently at work on an evening-length show of their own. Occasionally, Kelley juts out on hir own to make a solo-piece, but since ze has always been more comfortable collaborating in groups, ze brought along a lot of good friends to help with this new work, Seducing Those Who Are Afraid.

Find Kelley at

Natalie has been incubating as a Director for some time now. Muse, artistic midwife, assistant, assistant director, manager, agent, PR person, lover, best friend, biggest fan, and stage mommy/daddy, have been some previous titles assigned for projects with Kelley A Meister and Chicago’s happydog performance company, among others. Natalie’s own art process grows slowly, marinating in dance and video and costume, somewhere between the lands of camp and queer melancholy. A former member of BenchPress Burlesque, Nastalie currently works collaboratively as part of the Wreck Family trio.

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