Raw Shack

Raw Shack is a musical game piece for a large group of improvisers with prompter. It consists of large black & white cards which the prompter uses to cue the players. The title is a pun on the Rorschach inkblot test; instead of asking “what do you see in this image?”, this piece asks players “what do you hear in these words?”. Phrases and symbols are written on the cards, ranging from the musically specific (Waltz in E minor), to the evocative (hummingbird trapped in ice), to the absurd (You’re actually playing a banjo). The players interpret the cards in as literal, figurative, personal or dramatic a way as they wish. Raw Shack is “open source” in the sense that new cards can be created and added by anyone who wishes to perform it.

The first set of cards was created in 2004, inspired by my experience with the Austin Cobra Players. In 2015, I created 22 more Raw Shack cards during my residency at the de Young Museum in San Francisco, for a total of 72.

Download: Raw Shack Instructions (pdf)

Download: Raw Shack Cards (PNG, 300dpi, 13MB)

Below is a performance of Raw Shack at the de Young Museum, 19 June 2015. Raw Shack has also been performed in New York City, San Francisco, Austin, Auckland, New Zealand, and by Stars Like Fleas at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.

Raw Shack performances

Raw Shack performances in Austin, TX, Auckland, New Zealand, and New York City.