BINDERY's Last Dance: Patrick Mueller on the future of Control Group

For over a decade, BINDERY | space has been home to some of Denver's best and weirdest experimental theater under the direction of the LIDA Project, which has been its driving force for most of that time, in addition to providing a place for a number of other like-minded companies. One of those is Control Group Productions, a dance company that's been occupying BINDERY since it lost its home at the Packing House this winter. BINDERY changes hands on Monday (the building is being sold to the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless) and LIDA is moving on, but the honor of putting on BINDERY's last dance will fall to Control Group tonight when it performs When We Were Beautiful and All that Came After, a show that will pay homage to the space, examine the process of aging and -- as all experimental theater probably should -- include some nudity. We caught up with Control Group artistic director Patrick Mueller to talk about the show and what comes next. Photos by Heather Gray Photography

Westword: So this'll be the last show in Bindery/Space, but it's also Control Group's last show in a regular space at all. Have you figured out what's next for you guys?

Patrick Mueller: It feels like sort of a going away party for the theater. You know, we aren't the permanent residency at the Bindery; the LIDA project actually gave us this space -- LIDA produces original work, but they also administered this space, so they would rent it to different companies or whatever. They do have a new location that they're headed to -- the Laundry on Lawrence, which is an old laundry factory at 27th and Lawrence -- and we might be joining them; we don't know yet. We've been friends for several years, though; they come out of a theater direction, we come from more of a dance direction, but we both have performance as our medium.

The Laundry has a couple of pillars right in the middle of the space, which, for theater that's negotiable; for dance it's a little tougher. They don't know how long they're going to stay there, but we're putting our heads together on where we might be able to put our funds together and find a permanent space. So we're definitely considering teaming up with them again, possibly for good.

WW: Can you tell me a little bit about the production tonight? PM: The performance has a couple of different underpinnings. The concept is sort of exploring dueling ideas about the aging process, the process of losing capabilities, shrinking into yourself, almost, as far as how you're able to function. So looking at that in terms of geological or sculptural processes, there's this sort of shaping something to its internal form -- so, applying that idea to human beings, that as these layers are eroded or sculpted away, that become our truer selves as we age, with our bad qualities and our good ones: We become the things that are most truly us.

So that's paired with a mission we took on as the last show at the Bindery, which was that we really wanted to explore the space, we really wanted to get into some of its deep dark corners. Theaters are really a series of layers and backdrops, and we wanted to peel back those layers, and see how much we could occupy the space and really use it to its full potential and do something really site-specific. Sort of an ode to the Bindery, for its last performance.

WW: Being that you're not the primary company involved with the space, how did the last performance fall to you?

PM: Well, LIDA's artistic director, Brian Freeland, took a sabbatical over the fall and came back in January, around the time the sale was becoming imminent, and he didn't have to time in terms of making the move out of the space -- he decided it didn't make sense for them to make a final work, so they invited us to do it. We'd been working on this project for a couple of months and were actually wondering where we were going to present it, so the chance to do this show came at an opportune moment.

Performances of When We Were Beautiful and All That Came After begin tonight at 8 p.m. and continue through Saturday.

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