Live Performance

Meeting Chen Zhen: Drum As Doorway Between Worlds (excerpt) 2014 / 2:24

chen zhen5 copyExcerpts from Karrer’s performance in collaboration with musician and MAX/MSP designer David Simons. Based on the late artist Chen Zhen and his sculpture Traitment Musical/Vibratoire, commissioned by the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art (HVCCA). The artists play Zhen’s sculpture, triggering sounds and images with web cam. Premiered March 2014 at HVCCA, Peekskill, NY.


Two performance excerpts utilizing sculpture as conceptual reference points. In these works I seek to integrate myself as an element, rather than appearing as a featured performer.

459767380_260x146The Day My House Came To Visit 2008  (2:56) Videos and live performance by Karrer, in collaboration with sculptor Jacqueline Shatz and composer David Simons. Combining interviews, documentary footage, live video feed and 3-D house, the work explores the divergent concepts of home and familial memory. The Living Theatre, NYC.

Mary’s SITEMary’s SITE 2011  (2:26) Video and soundtrack by Karrer, text by sculptor Mary Ziegler, with thereminist David Simons. SITE features a kinetic sculpture by Ziegler which uses random occurrence, motorized magnets and metal findings that mimic social interactions. The Flea Theatre, NYC.



Schismism: Natural Law 2008 – 2010

Schismism Poster copy

A multi-arts performance examining the life of Charles Darwin. Karrer links her life stories with Darwin’s to illustrate and link personal, historical and scientific elements from Darwin’s breakthrough theory of evolution.

Premiered at the Living Theater/NYC in 2008, followed by tours to universities and cultural venues throughout the U.S.


weird insect press picErasmus and Charles  (4:57) From Schismism: Natural Law. Excerpts from Zoonomia, written by Darwin’s grandfather Erasmus. Soundtrack by David Simons.



Schismism crop

Full performance of Schismism at Binghamton University, 2010 (54:54). Guests of EvoS Department of Evolutionary Studies, at the invitation of David Sloan Wilson, Distinguished Professor of Biology and Anthropology.



Schismism: Fractured America 2007 Multi-arts performance premiered at the Flea Theatre, New York City.

S-ism 4 panel


This performance examines the global landscape and diversity of the American voice and the American experience during the Bush Administration, illustrating a common ground of lives both fixed and in movement, grounded and ungrounded.


The excerpt below (7:25) features a soundscape of war journalist Jon Lee Anderson, with stilts, fluorescent “bomb” belt, and a triggered light device created in collaboration with sculptor Gregory Barsamian.


A capstone of the performance, America The Beautiful is a response to the Bush administration’s post-9/11 fear mongering tactics.

Woman’s Song: The Story of Roro Mendut Karrer’s multi-arts music theater project premiered at the Kitchen, 2003. Excerpt (10:05) and full performance (50:19).

Woman’s Song is a multi-arts music theater project created and directed by Karrer, in collaboration with Gamelan Son of Lion music ensemble, visual artists Kate Yourke and Jenny Lynn McNutt, and lighting designer Carol Mullins. The production incorporates texts by Walt Whitman and the late Indonesian poet Sitor Situmorang, and includes original music scored for gamelan and voice, innovative wayang shadow screen and puppet designs (including fiber-optics and phosphorescence), video sequences and elegant lighting design. The musical and visual elements are interwoven with Balinese and Javanese mask and dance forms, martial arts and a stilt-dancing wayang puppet, to create a unique multi-tiered storytelling hybrid.

Karrer’s narrative is based on the 17th century Javanese legend of Roro Mendut, a strong and independent woman who resists the tyranny of oppression put upon Indonesian women of that period. The production explores cultural mores such as gender hierarchy, sexual taboos, self-immolation (death by kris knife, practiced by widows and servants), the impact of tobacco in Javanese society and the introduction of written text into the royal courts, transforming and formalizing traditional oral storytelling.

Score and libretto by Lisa Karrer
Gamelan Son of Lion ensemble: David Demnitz, Lisa Karrer, Jody Kruskal, Laura Liben, Bill Ruyle. Soloists: Barbara Benary (erhu/violin), Richard Cohen (clarinet), Lara Hicks (viola), and David Simons (zheng/jawharp).

Wiroguno: George Crayton
Spy/Servant/Assistant: Deena Burton
Roro Mendut: Ayu Armini
Pronocitro/vocalist/Wiroguno’s voice: Lisa Karrer
Narrator’s voices: Inggita Notosusanto and Kukuh Sukoyono


PUHAMU (SANCTUARY) 1997, a multi-arts music-theatre project premiered at Niguliste Church in Tallinn, Estonia. Created in collaboration with photo artist Peeter Laurits, co-composer David Simons, the Seto Helmekaala Choir, Tunnutusuksus jazz ensemble and actor Sven Kunti.Made possible with funds from CEC ArtsLink and Arts International.

Maria and Lisa good

PUHAMU explores the history of Estonia before, during and after the Second World War, and incorporated stories and personal histories of people who had escaped the country, those who managed to return, and those who had never left.


Seto dressing 6  Lisa ands Setu

Peeter's Niguliste picThe focus of PUHAMU was the Niguliste church itself. It had served as a sanctuary for precious artworks in the 13th century, and its baroque-era steeple has been bombed, burned and rebuilt several times over the last century.