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Exhibition hours are Thursday–Sunday, 12–6pm, or by APPOINTMENT. Admission is free.

Yale Union acknowledges that it occupies the traditional lands of the Multnomah, Chinook, Kathlamet, Clackamas, Tualatin Kalapuya, Molalla, and other Indigenous peoples.


Written and Directed by Asher Hartman
Performed by Gawdafful National Theater

September 13–15 and 20–22, 2019
October 11–13 and 18–20, 2019

Friday and Saturday 7:30pm doors / 8:00pm performance
Sunday open rehearsals from 6:00–10:00pm (audiences can come and go as they please)

$10 suggested donation
Tickets available HERE

Yale Union
800 SE 10th Ave.
Portland, OR 97214

The Players

MICHAEL BONNABEL as Alfred, a man married to John; The Boar, an animal; Michael, an actor
PHILIP LITTELL as John, a man married to Alfred; Saxobeat, a mangy wolf dog; The Little Man, death; a Bat
ZUT LORZ as Gingy, a troll; The Blue Suit, a spirit
PAUL OUTLAW as Dirk, an actor; Auntie, a ghost; Cornhen, a spirit; Ken II, a young magician
JOE SEELY as The Magician, Ken I, an adult
JACQUELINE WRIGHT as The Dope Elf, an elf

The Creative Team

MARK ALLEN, poster designer, Los Angeles
PATRICK BALLARD, Creator, Cornhen’s Crown
DENA BEARD, curator, The Lab
SOFÍA BENITO, designer for The Dope Elf and Gingy styling
IAN BYERS-GAMBER, photographer and videographer
NINA CAUSSA, designer of Dirk/Corhen’s home
CHU-HSUAN CHANG, lighting designer
NEHA CHOKSI, embedded writer and witness
CARMINA ESCOBAR, vocal coach
NICK GABY, technical director, Los Angeles; garden designs and builder of John and Alfred’s abode, Dirk/Cornhen’s home, and The Magician’s home
BRIAN GETNICK, design and construction of Gingy’s house & creator of the sigil appliqués on the ceremonial robes
TRULEE HALL, design and construction of The Dope Elf’s home
NIKII HENRY, ceremonial robe construction and design and construction of glitter poo
JOSEPH JIN, designer (with Nic Gaby) of The Magician’s home
AUBREE LYNN, designer of Alfred and John’s home, and construction of their home-skins JENNY MARTIN, Director of Operations, Yale Union
ROZ NAIMI, production and stage manager
TIM REID, assistant director and dramaturg
JOE SEELY, design and construction of Gingy’s sleigh and Magician’s costume
HOPE SVENSON, Director of Exhibitions, Yale Union
MATHEW TIMMONS, design and construction of the ceremonial robe stands
SET BUILDING ASSISTANTS: Sydney Acosta, Bully Fae Collins, Olivia Diamond,V. Haddad, Anna Ialeggio, Sam Jernigan, Audrey Libatique, Nayeli Nova, and Jacob Small

Special thanks to Candice Lin, Mark Allen, Mathew Timmons, Haruko Tanaka, Emily Mast, Julia Johnson, Edgar Fabian Frias, John Beer, Roz Crews, Srijohn Chowdhury, Adam Linder, Bryatt Bryant, Douglas Green, Nicholas Hurwitz and Andrew Waddell, Amanda Horowitz, BW Grant Barnes, and the Hartman-Napoli families, and everyone who volunteered or donated to The Dope Elf.

The Dope Elf was commissioned by Yale Union and The Lab with support from The Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation, the California Arts Council, and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts.

The Dope Elf is a series of performances staged within a nomadic installation-cum-film set that will tour around the United States until its progenitors—Asher Hartman and the players of the Gawdafful National Theater—get sick of it or die. This model insists on liveness (haha, no shit—doesn’t everything in life depend on liveness?). Well, what I mean is that the actors do actually live in the sleeping pods that appear on stage, and yes, audiences are free to roam about the sets (move when we move—follow the lights and the rolling houses) or watch the project livestreamed to the website, and it is also true that Hartman himself is still backstage at this moment furiously writing page after page of script. In fact, what you will see tonight is really a six-hour play that’s been vigorously pummeled into a shorter segment, readied for you and your fellow “art” audiences via the basic cruelty of the editorial process and some forcible maneuvering (groan) to get the entire mobile home park into this nice (haha, yeah right) white walled gallery.

“First they took my face. They carved out my tongue, my ankle, my armpit. They took a finger. They cut me away until I became a very nice person.”

Okay, okay, so basically The Dope Elf is non-narrative—it has no beginning and no end. That’s because it’s a magical system disguised as a play, and it’s taken up residence here to perform again and again the psychic pain, the horror and fascination, the destructive force, the dumb fuckery that is whiteness. The grotesquery of connecting the dots is a game played against The Dope Elf (Think Wagner on PCP! Think J.R.R. Tolkien takes the family to Comic Con! Think Game of Thrones meets Seinfeld!). It asks: how do we dismantle and still acknowledge our own narrative-producing systems? The actors “play the violence” of trying to root power in a bag of skin while our eyes, our bodies, fade into darkness. An entire audience dissembles.

“Told you I was a system.”

The actors have channeled their shadow selves, as well as their collective sense of the American shadow, into a few slippery personas: the Dope Elf, a dangerous trickster of “white light” with no name, no DNA, and a fragmented sense of self; Alfred and John, the contentious and loving couple turned violent elf and hellhound; Gingy, the sad troll; Cornhen, the righteous destroyer of time; Ken the Magician and his paramour, his own auntie’s ghost (who is also his boyhood friend Ken II); Little Man, dealer of death; the actors Michael and Dirk; and above all, “The Grannies” a finger wagging, crude ring of older femininities who rule earthly life (don’t look for them because they never appear). Hartman remembers violence and magic as entwined forces in his childhood, where the longing to construct a more powerful image of self often results in strangled desire, residual fear and rage.

“This is about power. I will sacrifice myself to the impulse for power. As actors do.”

This stage is a fractious space of spilt language—bodies overwhelmed by words; people caught inside of other people. This gallery is full of images—of psychic pain, of whiteness putting on disguises and trying on everyone’s identity like an avatar, its perceptual fuckery rearranging this, that, and I. This is about power.

—Dena Beard, curator