Thursday, September 18, 2014
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The fantastical world of The Bujees Magoo

An artist duo bent on creating an interactive audience experience like no other.

The fantastical world of The Bujees Magoo

Photo courtesy of The Bujees Magoo.
Photo courtesy of The Bujees Magoo.

The Oregon Country Fair took place July 11th through the 13th this year in Veneta, Oregon, although Samantha Hyman and James Ryan did not attend this year, they made sure the occasion did not go uncelebrated. For those three days they exhibited a multi-media performance art installation, Flowers of Life: A Tribute to the Oregon Country Fair. With puppet shows, musical performances, and even a galactic awareness seminar. With Flowers of Life, Hyman and Ryan brought Philadelphia a taste of a West Coast tradition in a compact North Philly warehouse known as the Thrift Store. The tribute is only one of the many eccentric and entertaining ideas thought up by the dual minded entity, collectively known as, The Bujees Magoo.

“We’re like Pinky and the Brain trying to liberate the world instead of taking it over,” says Ryan. It’s an ambitious mission but The Bujees Magoos, feel that they are doing so through performances and through encouraging unimpeded creative expression. With that motive, Hyman and Ryan bring out the imaginations of all who are involved in their productions, including their audiences.  

The Bujee Magoo’s performances feel like an amusement park ride—an exciting whirlwind of wonder, while blurring the lines between stage performance and an interactive experience. One of their recent acts, The Lemurian Solution: Your Interactive Evolution, took groups of participants through a maze where they would encounter what Ryan describes as “an ancient lost race of space lemurs, waiting to aid in human evolution.” Situated in Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, the production encouraged audience members to overcome the challenges they faced in the maze, like a dragon and a talkative nymph.

Professor Jibber Jabber and His Mind Resonator Combobulator features an eccentric inventor, “and professor of invention,” Ryan is careful not to leave out, on tour with his newest marvel. The marvel—a mind resonator combobulator, which is a machine that “reads our collective consciousness and projects it for all to see,” explains Ryan. This act urges audience participation in the form of chants, gestures, and individual mind combobulations.

The inspiration behind their eccentric performances and events is simple. The duo found conventional theater acts made them feel restless. “So many times the audience is just sitting still. We [the audience] want to be a part of it. We want to get up and move,” says Hyman.

Working together for several years now, Hyman and Ryan used their first artistic project, Dave’s Pleasure Chair, as an example for the type of feeling they want to evoke in their viewers.

Dave’s Pleasure Chair involved creating a seat in which a friend, Dave, would be “more comfortable than he had ever been.” “All of our shows are basically pleasure chairs for our friends,” says Ryan.

Many of the current Bujee Magoo activities, including Flowers of Life: A Tribute to the Oregon Country Fair, are part of an initiative called Anything Project. To find out more about Anything Project, log onto their blog. For further involvement, keep up with The Bujee Magoo. The duo hosts workshops on various crafts and skills such as candle making, fire spinning, stilt walking, and others. They also curate a monthly Roller Disco at the Thrift Store, which features live bands, contests, and visual art. They have previously featured local indie-pop band OhBree in a ska themed roller disco, and constantly make an effort to expose lesser-known local acts. And keep an eye out for these two performers the next time you find yourself at a street festival, parade, or even a farmers market, and it shouldn't be hard—they’ll probably be on stilts.

About this blog
Art Attack is a partnership with Drexel University and is supported by a grant from the Knight/NEA Community Arts Journalism Challenge, administered by the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance.

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