Rinde Eckert

Doris Duke Artist Award, 2012
Multidisciplinary Performance, Theatre

Upper Nyack, NY

Rinde Eckert is a writer, composer, director, performer, and singer known for the flexibility and inventiveness of his voice and his uniquely interdisciplinary productions. His works move beyond the boundaries of what a 'play,' a 'dance piece,' an 'opera' or 'musical' might be, and include And God Created Great Whales (2000 OBIE Award), Orpheus X (2007 Pulitzer Prize in Drama Finalist), Highway Ulysses, Four Songs Lost in a Wall, and Horizon (2008 Lucille Lortel Award). He is the recipient of a Grammy for Best Small Ensemble Performance (2012) for his vocals on Lonely Motel: Music from Slide with Steve Mackey and eighth blackbird, the Alpert Award in the Arts (2009), a Guggenheim Fellowship (2007), and a Mark Blitzstein Memorial Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (2005).

  • Photo Credit: Sibila Savage
  • And God Created Great Whales (2012)
  • Photo Credit: by Steven Gunther
    And God Created Great Whales (2012)
  • "John Knows," Finding My Way Home (1994)
  • Shorebirds Atlantic (1988)

What are your key goals for the award period? What challenges, desires, drives or needs are inspiring these goals?

As an interdisciplinary artist who writes, performs, composes, and directs I don’t fit comfortably in any one category. The music, the words, the sculpture of it, the dance, are all vital to the evocative power of the work. My eclectic nature has been a blessing and a curse. I’ve been able to occupy a unique (or at least rare) place in the arts, seeing the world from an unusually rich vantage point. But, we don’t quite know what to call it (the work has few, or no, precedents in the viewer’s experience), so it has no particular home in the world. The prevalent institutions often define themselves by a particular genre or even a particular artist or company. Regional theaters have a fairly narrow idea of what a play is. Concert halls have their conventional idea of the concert. Dance venues typically like their dancers to move not talk. One is compelled to forge an institution in order to further one’s work (like The Wooster Group). I plan to use this award period to figure out how I might forge such an institution. This is going to be difficult since I’m artistically ambitious but entrepreneurially challenged.