Tim Miller hits Philadelphia for performance and workshop

A gay performance artist who had a workshop planned for Villanova University abruptly canceled appeared on stage in Philadelphia this past weekend.

In preparation, students stomped on the stage of the Adrienne Theater in Rittenhouse Square with their shoes on their hands. They were doubled over, clomping their sneakers, flats, boots, and sandals on the boards. Tim Miller is trying to get them to loosen up.

“Complete this sentence,” instructed Miller. “These are the shoes of a person who…dot dot dot.”

The workshop is designed to help people shape their personal stories into performance art. Miller encourages them to focus on moments of confrontation, with themselves or with others.

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“A moment where you tell the truth can be a young kid from Johnstown, PA, coming out in his sophomore year of high school,” said Miller. “Or another sophomore from Johnstown having a born again experience. Both those stories count–true and human of that person.”

Miller had been invited to do a similar workshop at Villanova University, a Catholic college on the Main Line. That invitation was abruptly rescinded after university president Rev. Peter M. Donohue became aware of the sexually graphic nature of Miller’s performances. Donahoe canceled Miller’s class at Villanova, saying his performances are not alligned with the university’s values.

Some of the students in the class at the Adrienne Theater class were from Villanova. Miller says he has lectured and taught at about 500 colleges, including Catholic ones, without incident.

“It makes no sense to me – that you would ban teaching,” said Miller. “I kind of understand banning performances. That does happen. But this was a new thing.”

Miller will perform his own monologue this weekend as part of Interact Theater’s “Outside the Frame” festival. Called “Lay of the Land” it is a personal reaction to the passing of Proposition 8, which eliminated same-sex marriage in California.

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