Editor’s note: Conceived of in collaboration with Obie award-winning playwright and former Center visiting artist Ain Gordon, An Experiment in Five Acts is aimed at artists and cultural producers working in the Philadelphia region who are negotiating mid-career challenges—be they purely aesthetic or more practical. The primary goal is to stimulate refractive dialogue that may under-gird each participant’s ongoing process and address its quandaries. In an effort to share the project as it unfolds with the field, we have enlisted the services of nonfiction writer and 2005 Pew Fellow Jay Kirk, as “creative documentarian” for each of the five sessions.
During Act III, our moderator, Ain Gordon, casually proposed that we write a manifesto, and this inspired our resident Documentary Artist, Jay Kirk—an avid reader of manifestos, believer in none—to single-handedly take up the gauntlet. The author submits here the first draft to his fellow Experimentalists and welcomes modification and/or feedback. While in no way intended as anything as actually rigid or absolute as the word “manifesto” might imply, the thoughts put down here could be seen as a confession of the sort of internal encouragements, goads, and creative permission slips the writer sometimes uses to carve out his own niche each morning. While he trusts a number of his points will resonate with the others, the author also recognizes that these ideas were recorded with a bias toward his own field, or orientation, aka nonfiction, aka reality-based literature. This manifesto is, of course, open to discussion and revision during Act IV.