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Jamie Lyons, site specific, theater, theatre, performance, artist, collected works, we players, director, stanford, theater and performance studies, research, drama, shakespeare, san francisco, theater bay area, dance

Theatre Maker and Photographer specializing in site specific work and the documentation of performance… Live Art. Graduate of Stanford University, currently based in San Francisco. Note: The photographs displayed here are a mix of digital (full frame or iPhone) and film: 6×6 negative (1952 Rolliflex, Holga) and 4×5 (1958 Speed Graphic Pacemaker) for archival purposes.

Artist Statement

theatre holds an ancient resonance
born in caves
from the moment theatre was born
religion was born
they were born together

this is not a nostalgic statement
nor is it an archaeological attitude

in no way
is theatre a structure
belonging to the past

i see it as a force
a practice of ritual
an ancient spirit
found at the core of all live art

theatre’s aesthetic meaning remains contemporary
an artistic enterprise that questions itself
repurposes itself with each occasion
offered in real time
with no barriers
founded on an act of presence

what is the site specific event?
artists producing work in collaboration
with a unique environment

fundamental to my approach
concerns working in the present
while collaborating
with the remains of the past
the accumulated histories
a site contains
the ethereal elements
that remain ever present

my artistic practice
centers itself
with these connections and relationships
uniting past, present and future…
fusing artists, structures, remnants…

regarding photographic images
on their own
they are complicated and fascinating
synthesized with thought

taken individually
they contain stories
provide epiphanies

as a collection
they convey the performance into the future
chronicling material change and temporal impermanence
order and entropy
the acts of making
consuming and discarding

translating and transforming
the experience of witnessing
into something sober:
a document…
an inventory, narrative, or…
for some
an explanation

for both theatre making and photography
there is nothing to invent
there are things to edit
the citing inherent in the work is infinite
the invention is finite
Giotto solved the problem of bodies in space
Carvaggio … chiaroscuro
Rembrandt … light
Piranesi … inside/outside
Van Gogh … color
Warhol … the reproducibility of the image

the spectator is the key
the foundation of the work
a presence impossible to disregard
a God
able to create
give life

without a witness
without that experience
without that memory
without that emotion
without the life of the spectator
all we have are bodies
sound and light
with no meaning

these phenomena
are part of a nourishment
that belongs to everyone
















Upcoming Performances, Exhibitions & Lectures

Bio   ⦽



Rule 1
Never screw over a collaborator

Rule 2
Focus on process, not results

Rule 3
Don’t believe what you’re told

Rule 4
Never be unreachable

Rule 5
Never make excuses

Rule 6
Never waste talent

Rule 7
Always work as a team

Rule 8
Put in more than you want out

Rule 9
Never take anything for granted

Rule 10
Always carry a knife

Rule 11
Talking about work and work are not the same thing

Rule 12
Leave the site exactly as you found it

Rule 13
When the show is over, walk away

Rule 14
Never date a collaborator

Rule 15
Consider everything an experiment
(thank you John Cage)

Rule 16
Never involve lawyers

Rule 17
Bend the lines, don’t break them

Rule 18
Instinct is not the same as impulse

Rule 19
Appreciate failure, this is where growth occurs

Rule 20
It’s better to seek forgiveness than ask permission

Rule 21
Protect the time and space in which you work

Rule 22
Always carry a note-book and a pencil

Rule 23
Always carry a camera

Rule 24
Watch those watching

Rule 25
Snacks are suprisingly really important

Always remember we’re doing this because we love it

Rule 27
If you feel like you are being taken advantage of … you are

Rule 28
Avoid wearing shoes, they break your connection with the space

Rule 29
Don’t waste peoples time, don’t let others waste yours

Rule 30
There is no such thing as coincidence, the universe is telling you something
sometimes it’s saying “no”

Rule 31
Be transparent with your collaborators:
they can do more when they have a complete understanding of what is going on
and very helpful when you do not

Rule 32
Clean up any mess you make

(a) the reverese for you: show up clean/leave dirty

Rule 33
Be the first to arrive and the last to leave

Rule 34
Don’t work on Monday

(a): Ghosts exist, give them one day/night a week alone in the space

Rule 35
Don’t work for free; don’t ask others to work for free

Rule 36
Think twice about picking a site that doesn’t allow dogs

Rule 37
Everybody off book: actors, musicians, stage manger, crew

(a) music stands are amateurish

Rule 38
If you have nothing to say
don’t feel obliged to pretend you do

Rule 39
Respect your performers
Their job is 10 times more dangerous than yours

Rule 40
Never expect dogs, cats, birds or any other animals to do what you’d like them to do

(a) Sharka is an exception to this rule

Rule 41
Don’t quote other artists or productions unless you have to

Rule 42
Make up for a lack of (financial) means with an increase in imagination

Rule 43
A tight schedule can be difficult…
having too much time is worse

Rule 44
Less make-up is better

Rule 45
Less words are always better!

Rule 46
The more you know about “performance”
the tougher it gets to leave that knowledge behind
As soon as you do things “because you know how to do them”
you’re fucked

Rule 47
A “beautiful image”
can very well be the worst thing that can happen to your work

Rule 48
If you aren’t making art
you aren’t an artist

Rule 49
If an idea doesn’t terrify you
if you aren’t fairly certain you will fail
it probably isn’t good enough

Rule 50
Know when your work is shit
Never be afraid to throw it all out and start over

Rule 51
Photographing is easy
Directing is hard
Neither is as hard as real work
So, never complain
No one will give you any sympathy anyway

Rule 52
Embrace mistakes
If you are working with good artists
they will use a mistake
make the work richer and more the stuff of life

Rule 53
Most bloggers are not critics
most are guys who can afford a laptop
Take them as seriously as that
even if they love you

Especially if they love you

Rule 54
A lot of critics are not qualified
they are just guardians of normalcy

(a) Susan Sontag was a genius

Rule 55
Don’t have style
Maybe you do
but you should never know what it is

(a) A performance should have a style
your job is to figure out what that is and execute it

Rule 56
Above everything else you are a story teller
Tell the story

Rule 57
When someone tells you something can’t be done
have patience and ask them to try it again

(a) maybe it can
if you just ignore one of your stupid rules

Rule 58
Be grateful
in failure or success

Rule 59
Be brave
if you aren’t brave
you are not an artists
and whether you are artists or not
that’s what you should strive to be

Rule 60
You are never the smartest person in the room
just the luckiest


What is your artistic approach?

my core ideology maintains deep respect for the source material
and the individuals engaged with that material
a dedication to affordable quality
and consistency with the each performance
a commitment to community and environmental responsibility
a view that my artistic practice
contributes to the advancement and welfare of humanity

at the core of my practice are the following ideals…

a trust and respect for individuals
a focus on a high level of achievement and contribution
work with uncompromising integrity
achieve common objectives through teamwork
encourage flexibility and innovation

How do I find out about plans and future productions?

there’s a little scroll above… on the right
I also announce performances through social media

What does “Site Specific” mean?

New York City’s Guggenheim Museum’s offers this definition:
“Site-specific or Environmental art refers to an artist’s intervention in a specific locale, creating a work that is integrated with its surroundings and that explores its relationship to the topography of its locale, whether indoors or out, urban, desert, marine, or otherwise.”
that’s a good general description

Why do you describe the work as “Site Responsive”?

a sites environment and history informs my productions
artists construct each individual piece for a specific site
as such the productions are non transferable
the performance materials for each production
are constructed by the artists using existing resources within the site
for example
my production of Sophocles’ Sinon
constructed the Trojan Horse from material native to the site

How are you documenting your work?

in documenting my work I do not use Photoshop or “filters”…
I follow The National Press Photographers Association Code of Ethics
Some clauses from this code:

Be accurate and comprehensive in the representation of subjects.
Resist being manipulated by staged photo opportunities.
Be complete and provide context when photographing or recording subjects.
Avoid stereotyping individuals and groups.
Recognize and work to avoid presenting one’s own biases in the work.
Treat all subjects with respect and dignity.
While photographing subjects, do not intentionally contribute to, alter, or seek to alter or influence events.
Editing should maintain the integrity of the photographic images’ content and context. Do not manipulate images or add or alter sound in any way that can mislead viewers or misrepresent subjects.
Respect the integrity of the photographic moment.



Ph.D., Stanford University, Drama and Humanities, 2007
Dissertation: The Image of Tragedy
A.B., Stanford University, 1997

2015: The Land of Tears
2012: The Bikini War
2011:  Danger is My Destiny
2010: Al Khatun
2009: Tragedy of Hoffman
2008: Compadre
             The Lost Patrol
2007: The Traveling Beekers

Sophocles’ Oedipus The King, trans. Anthony Burgess
(staged reading) in Fort Mason Chapel
for San Francisco International Arts Festival

Sophocles Unattributed Fragment #116 at Wave Organ
Sophocles, Nausicaä at Pillar Point
Euripides Unattributed Fragment #91 on Slacker Hill
Pray For Rain at Pulgas Water Temple, Artist Weather
Sophocles Unattributed Fragment #110 at San Gregorio
Aeschylus, The Argo at San Francisco Maritime
Euripides’ Unattributed Fragment (E.266), Aquatic Park
Aeschylus’ Glaucus of Potniae at Golden Gate Fields
Sophocles’ Sinon at Emeryville Mudflats
Aeschylus’ Daughters of Helios at Año Nuevo State Park
The Balcony by Jean Genet, Collected Works
King Fool, We Players
On The Harmful Effects of Tobacco by Anton Chekov, Franconia Performance Salon
The Blue Room by David Hare, Stanford University

Stray Cats by Warren Leight, Stanford University

Night of the Burning Pestle, Stanford University
True West by Sam Shepard, Stanford University

Marat/Sade by Peter Weiss, Stanford University

The Revenger’s Tragedy by Cyril Tournour, Stanford University

Footfalls by Samuel Beckett, Stanford Repertory Theater
What Where by Samuel Beckett, Stanford University
Come and Go by Samuel Beckett, Stanford Univiersity
Mountain Language by Harold Pinter, Stanford University

Cowboy Mouth by Sam Shepard, Stanford University.
Aya no Tsuzumi, a Noh play, The Pulgas Water Temple, San Francisco Water Department

Rat by Sarah Warren, P.S. 122, New York City

Drain, a radio play by J.C. Lyons, KPFA Public Radio
Homeplus, by J.C. Lyons, Upstairs Garage, New York City

2017: Instructor, d.school, Stanford University: “The Intersection of Performance, Architecutre & Design”
2017-: Trustee, Museum of Perfromance + Design, San Francisco
2015-: Artist Weather Television
2012-: Instructor, Prison University Project, San Quentin
2012-2015  Co-Founding Artistic Director, Collected Works
2009:  Founder, False Art
2005-2006: Teaching Fellow, Introduction to the Humanities, Stanford University
2004-2005: Lecturer, Theatre History I & II, University
2003: Lecturer, Theatre History I, Stanford University
2003: Instructor, Technology and Art, Stanford University
2003-2004: Instructor, Directing, Stanford University
2003-2004: Administrator, Performance Studies international
2002-2005: Instructor, Shakespeare from Stage to Screen, Stanford University
2002-2004: Instructor, Honors College, Stanford University
2001: Instructor, Sex Rites and Earth Rituals, Stanford University
2000-2001: Instructor, Introduction to Acting, Stanford University
2000: Instructor, Samuel Beckett’s Late Plays and Prose, Stanford University
2000-2001: Administrator, Stanford Summer Theater
1998-1999: Lecturer in Drama, Stanford University
1998: Production Manager for Mabou Mines at the Moscow Art Theatre, Moscow, Russia
1997-1999: Production Manager, Gospel of Colonus, Mabou Mines Production
1997-1998: Production Manager and Technical Director for Hajj, Mabou Mines Production, New York and Sao Paulo, Brazil
1996: Assistant in Drama (teaching the Director/Actor Relationship with Robert Egan) Stanford University
1993-1995: Assistant in Drama (teaching Small Group Communication with Anna Deavere Smith) Stanford University
1993: Production Assistant, Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 for the Mark Taper Forum, Los Angeles

images for “Fantasy on the Clock: The Virtual Cruelty of Collected Works’ The Balcony” by Rebecca Chaleff,
TDR/The Drama Review, Summer 2016, Vol. 60, No. 2 , Pages 139-145

images for “The Balcony by Jean Genet (review)” by Kimberly Jannarone, Theatre Journal, Volume 67, Number 4, December 2015, pp. 729-731 (John Hopkins University Press, 2015)
images for “Performing Body Modifications,” by Andrew Henkes, Contemporary Performance: Theatricality Across Genres (Routledge, 2015)
images for Performing Proximity: Curious Intimacies by Leslie Hill & Helen Paris (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014)
On Time, Performance Research, Volume 19, Issue 3, (Routledge, 2014)
Image of Tragedy (dissertation), (Stanford University, 2007)
“Rethinking the Cambridge Anthropologists.” Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, Winter, 2004
“Lee Breuer’s Hajj as Postmortem Theater.” Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, Winter, 2000
“Image of Scene: Oedipus Tyrannus, Ajax, and Philoctetes”. Comparative Drama, Spring 1998
*(photos) “Bill Ham: The Psychedelic Light Show,” Bomb Magazine, February, 1997
*(with Charles R. Lyons) “The Performance Work of Anna Deavere Smith and Contemporary Critical Theory,” Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, Fall, 1994

American Theatre
Broadway World
Inquiry Magazine
Marin Independent Journal
PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art
Palo Alto Weekly
Palo Alto Daily News
San Jose Mercury News
San Francisco Arts
San Francisco Bay Guardian
San Francisco Bay Times
San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Examiner
San Francisco Magazine
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
SF Weekly
Stanford Magazine
Stanford Report
TDR: The Drama Review
The Huffington Post
The Idiolect
Theatre Bay Area
Theatre Journal
Wired Magazine









Site Specific Design, Chocolate Heads’ Ghost Architecture: Palimpsest, Stanford University
Visual Artist, Yula Paluy’s Nothing is Sacred? Museum of Performance + Design, San Francisco
Chocolate Heads, Spring Charrette, Stanford University
Chocolate Heads, Flower at Windhover, Stanford University

MAPP (Mission Arts Performance Project): Breaking Open The Prison Industrial Complex at Adobe Books, San Francisco, curated by Nathalie Brilliant
Building Scene: space launch and performance installation.  Architecture through Dance, Voice & Fashion in Commemoration of the Opening of the McMurtry Art and Art History Building, Stanford University
Video and Photos of The Iota (fragments of Aeschylus, Sophocles & Euripides) for FPS #14, at Museum of Performance + Design

Video and Photos of Collected Works production of The Balcony at The Old Mint for Sublimated Mask, at Museum of Performance + Design
Video Projection, Prototyping Festival, Market Street

Performer, Inhabitant, Ntsoana Contemporary Dance Theatre, San Francisco Museum of Modern ArtYerba Buena Center for the Arts, and Galería de la Raza as part of Public Intimacy: Art and Other Ordinary Acts in South Africa and Live Projects 4

Dante’s Inferno, Cantos 1-7 (film), Franconia Performance Salon #12

DJ/Dancer in Jerome Bel’s The Show Must Go On, Stanford Live
Video Projection & Lights for Building Score 101b, Performance Art Institute
Video Projection & Lights for Collected Works production of Gombrowicz’s Princess Ivona

2005: Centennial Teaching Assistant Awards
1999-2006: Stanford University Fellowship
1994: Barbara Thompson Memorial Scholarship.
1994: Robert M. Golden Grant for Humanities and Creative Arts
1994: Appointed to Honors College, Stanford University
1993: James Irvine Foundation Grant
1993: Elston M. Harrison Memorial Scholarship

National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), Modern Language Association (MLA), Reporters Without Borders, American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR), Performance Studies international (PSi), Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE), Environmental Data Governance Initiative (EDGI).



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jamie lyons, theatre, theater, stanford, university, theater and performance studies, collected works, iota, we players, chocolate heads, san francisco, bay area, director, photography, site specific, art, artist, teacher, drama, tragedy, scholar, academic, performance, live art


i don’t have one
all i have are rules
but why not try one of these?

“Notes to myself on beginning a painting” by Richard Diebenkorn
How to work better Fischli & Weiss
The Stuckists Manifesto
The Dada Manifesto by Hugo Ball
The Dada Manifesto by Tristan Tzara
First Things First Manifesto
The Orgasm Manifesto
The Manifesto of Negativity
Permanent Manifesto Art and Communication
John Cage’s 10 Rules
Ten Commandments for Gilbert & George
Manifesto of the Empress Catherine II