Taavo Smith is an actor, playwright, dancer and teacher interested in risk and spectacle. His experience spans a broad range of forms including butoh, clown, psychophysical acting and the radical reinvention of classical work. His plays and performance pieces have been produced in New York City, Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, Boulder, and Melbourne, Australia.
Taavo teaches physical acting and contemporary playwrighting based on his training in Viewpoints, Somatics, Grotowski, Suzuki, Roy Hart Voice and Moment Work. He earned his MFA in Theatre: Contemporary Performance at Naropa University, where he had the extraordinary good fortune to work with Wendell Beavers, Leigh Fondakowski, Steve Wangh, Barbara Dilley, Leeny Sack, and Katsura Kan, among others. He also holds a BA from Macalester College.
Taavo is an avid reader and maintains a casual interest in performance studies, Buddhist philosophy, critical theory and cognitive science. His article, On Somatic Acting—which describes the application of Western bodymind training to acting work—was published by Perfformio, an international journal of the performing arts.
Taavo was an 09/10 resident with Mabou Mines/SUITE, and is a founding member of One Continuous Mistake, Da Zain, CDP/NYC, and Convergences Theatre Collective. He is a connoisseur of fine beers, a freelance web programmer, and an amateur pizzaiolo. A Boston native, he lives in Brooklyn, New York.
As a playwright, I’m more a curator than a creator. I seek and share things I find compelling, based on my own senses of delight and horror. I’m like a honey bee—I don’t pull wonders from the ether, but rather I explore, I investigate, and I digest. I offer my audience something personal which reflects the many flowers I’ve sipped from, hopefully sweet, and hopefully nourishing
Two threads in my work:
Theatre of the Intractable
Events are more a cause than an effect of behavior. Plot is something characters respond to helplessly, rather than something they enact. A rage against the inevitable.
Physical and emotional obstacle courses which challenge performers to exceed themselves, in the hope of delighting an audience. The event shared with the spectator is real—bodies, emotions, objects, and space are literal, not imaginary. We do something difficult in order to discover the truth.