Capital Fringe 2016 Preview #4: ‘A Breakup Is Swift’ by Clint Bagwell

If you want to get bummed out, we have the show for you.

A Breakup Is Swift marks the world premiere of a conceptual artwork by Clint Bagwell that takes the form of a series of live performances. “It started when a friend sent me a written copy of a breakup conversation,” says Bagwell. “I was challenged to find actors who would re-create the real-life event and interpret it in their own way.” The five scheduled shows use the same script, but each is uniquely delivered by a different set of performers.

Gabby Jones and Nick Duckworth. Photo by Clint Bagwell.
Gabby Jones and Nick Duckworth. Photo by Clint Bagwell.

The play follows “Cameron” and “Dale” as they rehash the their brief but intense encounter. A Breakup Is Swift promises nothing profound in the words that are spoken; instead the actors offer a hyper-realistic portrayal of two people talking in an honest way. The project uses personal interaction as source material, in the same vein as artist Sophie Calle, while reveling in the uncomfortable but naturalistic dialogue of so called “mumblecore” flicks like Drinking Buddies. The artist recounts the early stages of his creative process: “when I read the text, I didn’t want to alter anything, but I did change names and references to specific locations. I found that if I also made the gender of each character open, we could play with those possibilities.”

Actors Ben Kleymeyer and Elle Sullivan. Photo by Clint Bagwell.
Actors Ben Kleymeyer and Elle Sullivan. Photo by Clint Bagwell.

Actor Ben Kleymeyer plays “Dale” in two different performances; once against a male “Cameron” then again with a female version. “Creating two different characters from the same text is not something I’ve done before. They ultimately have the same goals/needs/character traits, but what is different is how these things manifest themselves… and how they interact with the other character. I imagine it to be like what would happen if you watched the same person in two different relationships,” he explains.

A Breakup Is Swift begins July 9, 2016 at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library as part of the 2016 Capital Fringe Festival. To fully experience this production it is recommended viewers attend multiple performances.

The play features actors Elle Sullivan, Ben Kleymeyer, Gabby Jones, Nick Duckworth, and Maggie Murphy, as well as music by Nora  Desmond and Chain & the Gang.  as well as music by Nora Desmond and Chain & the Gang. The Stage Manager is Gabby Jones.

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Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, A Level. 901 G St NW, Washington, District of Columbia 20001.
Metro Stops: Gallery Place/Chinatown or Metro Center.


Saturday, July 9th 12:30 PM
Performed by Nick Duckworth and Ben Kleymeyer
Tuesday, July 12th
Performed by Elle Sullivan and Ben Kleymeyer
Tuesday, July 19th 7:15 PM
Performed by Nick Duckworth and Gabby Jones
Saturday, July 23rd 4:15 PM
Performed by Maggie Murphy and Gabby Jones
Sunday, July 24th 2:00 PM
Performed by Elle Sullivan and Gabby Jones

*Cast subject to change.

About the Creators:

Clint Bagwell at his 2014 exhibition “Ghosts" at University of Mary Washington. Photo by Rosemary Jesionowski.
Clint Bagwell at his 2014 exhibition “Ghosts” at University of Mary Washington. Photo by Rosemary Jesionowski.

Artist Clint Bagwell utilizes public space, technology, and collaboration to explore the notion of reality as a social construct. His conceptual work has been exhibited at Southern Exposure Gallery in California, Impakt Audiovisual Arts Festival in the Netherlands, Collective Unconscious in NY, and University of Mary Washington in Virginia. Clint Bagwell received an MFA from San Francisco Art Institute and a BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University. He has taught art and technology courses at Virginia Commonwealth University, University of Mary Washington, NOVA Community College, and Howard Community College. Clint is originally from Richmond, VA and currently resides in Alexandria, VA.

Gabby Jones. Photo by Gabby Jones.
Gabby Jones. Photo by Gabby Jones.

Gabby Jones has worked with the NYS Theatre Institute (including a staged reading of King Alfred’s Jewels in which she was directed by the great Adrian Mitchell) and the Rising Action Theatre Company in their production of Burning Blue. Gabby Jones wrote, edited and directed Voices in the Aftermath, which showcased reactions of various artists in the days following 9/11. Ms. Jones is very pleased to be making her debut (as actor and stage manager) with the Capital Fringe Festival in Clint Bagwell’s production of A Break Up Is Swift.

About Capital Fringe:

fringe 2016 new logo to useAt Capital Fringe our focus is on expanding audience’s appetites for independent theatre, music, art, dance and unclassifiable forms of live performance and visual art. Capital Fringe is a catalyst for cultural and community development, and a destination that brings artists and audiences together. Capital Fringe thrives on amplifying the vibrancy of DC’s independent arts community and enriches the lives of those who reside, work and visit here.

As a non-profit business Capital Fringe is made possible by: Reva and David Logan Foundation, Nora Roberts Foundation, DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, The City Fund, Dallas Morse Coors Foundation, Prince Charitable Trust, Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, Share Fund of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, MARPAT Foundation, DC Public Library Foundation, PNC Bank, Fringe Board of Directors and Fringe individual donors and members.


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