Alexis Clements is a playwright and journalist based in New York City, where she also co-founded a queer writing group. She is currently a Fellow at the Cultural Strategies Initiative. She is also serving as a co-editor of Women in Theatre Magazine Online, published by the League of Professional Theatre Women. An alumna of the Women’s Project Playwrights Lab, she has been awarded a Dramatists Guild of America fellowship, two Puffin Foundation Artist Grants, a Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation grant, the Source Theatre’s Washington Theatre Festival Literary Prize, and she has been a resident at the Millay Colony. She is also founder of the multi-disciplinary arts project New Acquisition, which produced projects from 2007-2010. Her creative work has been produced and published in both the US and the UK. Selected productions include: Conversation (Fringe Festival: Philadelphia, PA); Enough! (Highline Park: New York, NY); Place ReImagined (Women’s Project & River-to-River Festival: New York, NY); Dance Away Your Debt (FIGMENT Festival: Governors Island, NY & Dance Parade: New York, NY); Spitting Against the Wind (Brooklyn Arts Exchange: Brooklyn, NY & Dixon Place: New York, NY); Your Own Personal Apocalypse (One Million Forgotten Moments Project: New York, NY & Chashama: New York, NY); Causality (Towngate Theater: Wheeling, WV); The Interview (Edinburgh Fringe Festival: Scotland, UK); Three Choices (Pomegranate Theatre: Chesterfield, UK); and Pieces (Riverside Theatre: Iowa City, IA). She is the co-editor of the two-volume anthology of plays, Out of Time & Place, which includes her performance piece, Conversation. Her plays, Pieces and Three Choices, have been published by KNOCK. She has also written and published a selection of short stories. These works have appeared in a handful of literary magazines and collections, including two different anthologies published by Route (UK), Bonne Route and Ideas Above Our Station, and also in The Guardian. Her articles, essays, and interviews have appeared in publications such as Bitch Magazine, The Brooklyn Rail, The L Magazine, Nature, Aesthetica, and Travel New England. She is a regular contributor, focused on art and performance, to Hyperallergic. In addition, she has been an invited speaker at Harvard University, the Flux Factory (New York City), and the Playwrights Forum (Washington, DC), among other places. She has a M.Sc. in Philosophy & History of Science from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a B.A. in Theater Studies from Emerson College.
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All the work I do is focused on expanding and reinforcing the role of inquiry, specifically the ways that the arts and sciences generate new and important ideas for society. In addition, I’m interested in making the arts and sciences more inclusive of women, people of color, and other under-represented groups as part of a larger interest in supporting social justice movements.
Both a writer and performer, my primary artistic concern is ideas—the way they shape our beliefs and the way those beliefs shape the way we behave in the world. For example, in my performance piece Conversation, the central question surrounds the flawed belief that it is possible to perfect communication, such that there would never be errors or misunderstandings between people. In my play, Causality, I probe our desire to believe that one thing leads directly to another, even though that is so rarely the case.
Because each core idea or question in my work is different, the aesthetic tools I use to reflect on those ideas are also different. As a result, I cannot employ any single aesthetic paradigm, save one—refraction. By refracting my ideas in the text, the structure of the performance and action or choreography (in cases where I include movement in the work), and also in the design, I encourage the audience to invent their own perspectives.
This desire to inspire new perspectives in the audiences is also the reason that I often use non-traditional and public spaces for my performance work. In settings where the audience is not used to engaging with performance, they are already undergoing the process of reframing their experience, and so, I find, they are more open to new possibilities as a result.
I also like to experiment with printed text in my work, such as in my pamphlet and performance project New Acquisition. By encountering something unexpected on the printed page, once again, the readers must reassess the thing they are holding in front of them and puzzle out new ways of engaging with the text and the ideas it explores.