Devised-performance artist and director Lloyd Bricken graduated with a degree in Philosophy and Classical Languages from St. John’s College, where he also founded and served as artistic director of Theatre Chrystostomos. After a career as a professional actor starring in numerous productions, an encounter with the writings of Jerzy Grotowski led Bricken to return to the deep south of his native Alabama and neighboring states to research the ritual and theatrical origins of its poetic, sacred, and musical traditions, especially with indigenous communities where oral traditions still live and thrive.
In 2007 Bricken’s song research became the principal vector of the “Open Program”, a new team at the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards-- the world’s most rigorous laboratory theatre for the exploration of the actor’s presence and the transmission of oral and song-based culture. As lead actor, composer, and assistant to Director Mario Biagini, Bricken and the international ensemble developed the performances: “I Am America,” “Watch Night”, “Electric Party Songs, and “Not History’s Bones--A Poetry Concert”, which employed the poetry of Allen Ginsberg and traditional songs and dances of the American Deep South. Devised through the combination of actions and original songs composed by the ensemble, these works toured internationally to 20 countries beginning in 2009. These performances were designed to seek and study interactive moments of meaningful human encounter in conventional as well as non-conventional performance settings: the Open Program worked during parties, at nightclubs, in concert halls admitting thousands, in churches as well as theaters throughout the world.
In 2013 powerful encounters with several African American church communities in New Haven and New York inspired the creation of two new performances with more sustainable participatory possibilities: “The Hidden Sayings” and “The Open Choir.” Structuring events using African-American traditional songs from Alabama and texts of early Christianity, Bricken and the Open Program found ways to weave hundreds of participants into the “Open Choir Movement” in New York City and other cities worldwide. Entrusted by Director Mario Biagini with many pedagogical and assistant-directorial responsibilities after his arrival at Workcenter, Bricken led workshops, programs, and conferences on behalf of Workcenter at many institutions worldwide and here in North America at Yale University, NYU, Brooklyn College, Citi
Company New York, Columbia University, Stanford University, University of Toronto, and University of British Columbia.
In 2015, after 8 years at Workcenter, Bricken returned to his native Birmingham, Alabama in order to establish a performance laboratory built upon his research of the last decade. With one such partner, John Paul Taylor of “Real Life Poets”, Bricken now mentors Birmingham-area youth through spoken-word poetry and artist-activist empowerment workshops.
As a traveling teacher and director, Bricken leads workshops for artistic and spiritual communities that wish to seek deeper resources and means for their practices. He currently collaborates with such companies as the University of Sao Paolo, Brazil; Rabindra Bharati University of Kolkata, India; Tiyatro Medresesi of Istanbul and Sirince, Turkey; Sat Loka Ashram of Bozeman, Montana; and with Casa Talcahuano of Buenos Aires, Argentina.