Control Group Productions was founded in 2008 under the artistic direction of Patrick Mueller. Our defining purpose is to provide a forum for the creation of excellent, innovative, and unique art pieces. Our basic medium is performance, spanning (thus far) stage, site-specific, installation, and film works. We approach our medium outside of the artificial strictures of traditional forms (dance, theatre, fine art, etc.), instead employing the fullest palette available within the unique situation of each work. We allow each concept and process to select the tools and material and inform the mode of presentation for the product. If that sounds like esoteric gibberish to you: Control Group is a dance company that doesn’t just (and sometimes plain doesn’t) dance.
For its first two years, Control Group was the permanent resident company of the Packing House Center for the Arts in northwest Denver, where we premiered all of our works from this period. Our debut project, the triptych Three Treatises on Interplanetary Weather Systems, follows the trajectory of an astral body from deep space through planetary impact, recreating this narrative experientially in three parts told with varying media – live installation, stage performance, and a short film. The creative process spanned January to August 2009, with premieres in March and May for the installation and stage work, and May 2010 for the film.
In 2009 we also produced Tomb / Abattoir, a live/undead installation-performance examining the tradition of haunted houses through the lens of PHCA’s slaughterhouse past. In collaboration with installation artist Rori Knudtson and composer Myra Moreta, this work transformed the theater setting into a ghostly maze of translucent walls, with a sound score augmented by an eight-inch-deep floor cover of dried leaves.
Demolition Queens premiered on April 22, 2010 at PHCA, with further performances scheduled in 2010-11. A by turns explosive and contemplative descent into the excesses of rock-stardom and pop culture, this work uses carefully formulated staging and live and recorded sound to create a wholly unique experience that is part rock concert, part performance art spectacle.
In 2011 we created When we were Beautiful and All that Came After in residency at Denver’s BINDERY|space. This site-specific meditation/spectacle explored aging as a sculptural/geological process of reduction: decaying surfaces, facades wearing slowly away, the gradual revelation of the underlying resilient form. The work was closely followed by Denver’s Westword Magazine, and received wide acclaim for its nuanced beauty and humor.
In late 2011, CGP became a permanent resident company of the new black box venue work|space Denver, in partnership with experimental theatre company the LIDA Project. Our debut project at our new home transformed the theater into an enchanted forest, a crossroads of the real and the spirit worlds. Denver Post’s Lisa Kennedy described Salon Romantik, opus 1: Wanderers in the Sea of Fog as “potent…, powerful…, impressive and surreal.” This piece is the first in a 5-part series exploring the ideology and historical contents of Romanticism, with refractions into fairytale, 1960s avant garde art and spirituality, and beyond.
Control Group is directed by Patrick Mueller with assistant direction by Kristine Whittle. Its other current members are Hallie Bauernschmidt and Taylor Augustine. Regular collaborators include Brian Freeland, Amelia Charter, Paul Betts, and Tricia Hoke.