Mary Overlie is an observer/participant, a deconstructing postmodern theatre practitioner, an original anarchist. She is a woman who is not afraid of obscurity, or worried that being unknown might obscure her ideas. She prefers to remain out of the limelight in order to create. She has a deep trust and confidence in a piercing mind. At a young age she displayed an intense physical and intellectual confidence. The Theory and Practice of The Six Viewpoints were borne out that confidence with a quiet yet infectious impact.
“Observe the ingredients, the materials of performance, contemplate the particles. Once you find them, train yourself to listen, allow them to become your teachers, embrace them as profound partners. Allow them to create.”
Any theater artist standing in Overlie’s classroom is immediately drawn to her clarity: able to absorb, comprehend and take her teachings to heart. Throughout her many years of teaching, she has managed to articulate a very basic and functional view and practice of postmodern art. Her views on performance are clear and resilient as the views and grass on the high prairie.
Overlie was born January 15, 1946 in Terry, Montana; conceived Movement Research, a cooperative dance organization of international renown; founded Danspace Project with Barbara Dilley, a dance presenting organization in New York City; first teacher hired to establish the Experimental Theatre Wing at Tisch School of the Arts at New York University; a choreographer and performer with an international reputation in the field of experimental dance, for many years teaching and performing as a part of the International Tanz Wochen working with Ismael Ivo and Karl Regensburger in Vienna. Recently retired after 39 years teaching in the Undergraduate Drama Department at NYU she now resides in Bozeman, Montana.
The Six Viewpoints is her child and it has done a unique thing in the world of theater and performance philosophy; it has come with a quiet and infectious ability to represent itself without her. She joins those who have worked to elevate theater. Her leveling of the creative hierarchy by focusing on the materials has conceptually and practically infected the performance worlds of both theater and dance.