Societas Insomnia

2004 – 2007

founder, director, producer, actor/singer/dancer (Dig the Nightmare King)

Dig the Butcher and his Dreamers observe their newly-modified pet

A nightmare performance art troupe combining ritual theatre, fire, butoh, the circus arts, pain threshold performance, and live improvised music. The original concept for the show arose from a meeting between myself, David Heifetz, and Dale Morris.  David and myself became the chief directors of the project; collaborating to create the story and characters in the shows, and weaving in the performances of the component performers.

Daif the Nightmare Duke puts two dreaming souls to the cantilever rack

Ivizia Dakini in her finest dress and back-skewer torches

Major performances at The Roseland Theater, Someday Lounge, Sabala’s, Dante’s (featuring Finland’s Circus Mundus Absurdus), and The How To Destroy The Universe Festival in Oakland CA (featuring The 999 Eyes Of Endless Dream Freakshow).

 

Zac Diener and partner perform acrobatics
Domina Betka Schpitz and her slave Cat
Noah Mickens as Dig with perhaps Llewyn Maire, Lisa Newman, and Patricia Hall?

I was also one of the principal performers, playing the nightmare spirit Dig; with Mr Heifetz as his rival Drago; and Mr Morris intermittently appearing in hook suspension and musical roles.  Other notable players included Soriah, Ivizia, Cherry, Peach, Germany, Pandora, Patricia Hall, Llewyn Maire, Lisa Newman, Vanessa Skantze, Nathan HG, Betka Schpitz, Yoshi Ironskin, Alea Angelique, Lana Guerra, Meghan Rose, Ogo Eion, Ryan Olson, Rale Sidebottom, Moe! Staiano, Jay Lieber, Brian Crowl, Travis McAlister, Malice McMunn, Joshua Camozzi, Daif Hahn, Zuul, Mr Zee, Joe Sparks, Jacki ov All Trades, Nolon Ashley, and Miss Ty Fyre.

Top L to R: Lana Guerra (standing in back), Bonnie Green Buddha, Paul Gilbert, Joe Sparks, Dale Morris, Mister Zee, Patricia Hall, Noah Mickens (top hat), David Heifetz, Llewyn Maire, ?, Gar, Rale Sidebottom, Pandora, Ivizia Dakini, Autumn Augustus, Ryan Olson. Middle Row: Peach (reclining), Lisa Newman, Germany, Jay Lieber. Bottom row: Nolon Ashley, Terra, Shorty, Kathy Newman, Cherry, Yoshi Ironskin
Top L to R: Rale Sidebottom (reclining), Noah Mickens, Sophie, Moe! Staiano, Frank Marroquin. Middle row: Two mysterious standing interlopers who were not in the show, Lana Guerra, Enrique Ugalde, Miss Ty Fyre, Bonnie Green Buddha, Autumn Augustus, Travis Mc Alister, Paul Gilbert (standing). Bottom row: Brian Crowl, David Heifetz, Jay Lieber, Ivizia Dakini, Cherry, Peach (reclining)

Looking back from 2021, Societas Insomnia occupies a dense node in the subcultural family tree. Our cast and crew came from Sinferno Cabaret, Human Sculpture, PURE (aka PURE Cirkus), SHIFT, Soriah, 2Gyrlz, Firerotica, Pan/Zen, Nequaquam Vacuum, Suicide Girls, Pyrosutra, Circus Mundus Absurdus, Rose City Sirens, Power Circus, Cacophony, Synchronicity Frequency, Cicuri Curajul, 999 Eyes ov Endless Dream, Liminal Group, Tears of Joy Puppet Theater, Cirkus Pandemonium, To-Ka-Ge, Death Posture, Transphormium, Cult of Zir, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Vacuum Tree Head, and Thee Hobo Gobbelins; and went on to create and perform in Bogville, Super Geek League, Toxic Zombie, Soft Metals, Water in the Desert, Deadlurk Dollymops, Hellzapoppin Sideshow, and of course Wanderlust Circus.

Noah Mickens in hooks. Lower Level L to R: Patricia Hall, ?, Joshua Camozzi-Milligan, Lana Guerra, Miss Ty Fyre, David Heifetz. Upper Level L to R: Jay Lieber, Brian Crowl, ?
Our final show, Carousel of Carnage with Finland’s Cirkus Mundus Absurdus. Front row L to R: Nathan HG, Ivizia Dakini, Ms Joints, Germany, Noah Mickens. Background L to R: ?, Lassi Sidoro, Meghann Rose, Lana Guerra, Wisa Knutila

Three members of Societas Insomnia have passed on since our final show. The first was Yoshi Ironskin, an extravagantly tattooed and modified fellow renowned the world over for his herculean pain tolerance. Yoshi offered his face and body to be transformed each show into a nightmare hound.

Dale Morris (with guitar), Alea Angelique (left nightmare hound), Yoshi Ironskin (right nightmare hound). I believe that’s Hellan holding Alea’s chain and Daif holding Yoshi’s.

The photo above shows Yoshi all pierced and hooked and chained up (right), captured in a live photo with our other two departed performers. Alea Angelique (left) and Dale Morris (with guitar). Alea, as far as I can recall, joined up around the third and fourth show to augment the arousing spectacle of Yoshi dragging his handlers across the stage with the skin on his back. She was a fire dancer and piercing/suspension artist from Seattle who came in by way of PURE Cirkus and the 999 Eyes.

Here’s a remembrance of Shamrock that I wrote when I heard she’d passed. I should probably put about a dozen content warnings on this thing. It contains material of an adult nature.

Not too long after that, Dale Morris died too. He was one of the three people who first conceived of Societas Insomnia with David Heifetz and I, and was an integral performer in most of our shows. Before that he was an old-school body mod and hook suspension artist in Portland, as well as a highly accomplished guitarist and singer with a rich history in local bands. His work with Human Sculpture, and his own performances under the name Transphormium and others, were pioneering events in Portland’s ritual performance scene.

I wrote something about Dale too, and this one’s got a whole lot of Societas Insomnia history in it. Here’s the link. This one’s a real doozy. Content warnings all around.

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