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Don't Trust Anyone Over Thirty  
Entertainment by Dan Graham with Tony Oursler and Other Collaborators  
Curator: Sandra Antelo-Suarez Commissioner and Producer: TRANS>  

Featuring Japanther and Huber Marionettes. Installation by Laurent P. Berger

A live musical theater work about American culture:
a Rock-Opera Puppet-Concert

Presented as a work in progress at:
Art Basel Miami Beach, December 1-5, 2004
Wiener Festwochen, Vienna, June 3-7, 2005
Staatsoper Unter Den Linden, Berlin, June 10-14, 2005
Walker Art Center January 5-8, 2006

Future Tour:
Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum, March-May, 2006 (installation)
Dia Center for the Arts, March 2-March 30, 2006 (installation & performance)
Mexico City, Site to be announced, May 2006 (performance)
Extra City, Antwerp, Belgium, Fall 2006 (performance)
Festival d' autumn, Centre Pompidou, Paris, Fall 2006 (installation & performance)
Musée d'Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Luxembourg, Fall 2006(performance)
Tate, Turbine Hall, London, Fall 2006 (installation & performance)




Don't Trust Anyone Over Thirty will be premiered in its final version in New York May 2006 following its installation at the Whtiney Biennial 2006. The installation for the performance will be exhibited at the Whitney Museum while the live 60 min. rock-opera puppet concert will be presented concurrently at Dia Center for the Arts, Chelsea.

Don't Trust Anyone Over Thirty, Entertainment by Dan Graham with Tony Oursler and Other Collaborators, was conceived by Dan Graham with visual conception and videos by Tony Oursler, recorded songs written and performed by Rodney Graham, and live music written and performed by the band Japanther. Phillip Huber, the master puppeteer of Being John Malkovich has designed and constructed the puppets. The environment/ installation design (including stage and light design) is by Laurent P. Berger. The curator is Sandra Antelo-Suarez.

Don't Trust Anyone Over Thirty charts the career of twenty-four-year-old rock singer Neil Sky, who is elected President of the United States after instigating teenage riots to change the voting age to fourteen and putting LSD in the drinking water of the Congress. But once President Sky retires the over-thirty population in LSD re-conditioning camps, he faces his own unique demise.

Envisioned as a genuine satiric history of the hippy generation and the end of the psychedelic era, the opera's tragi-comic narrative is the reductio ad absurdum of the hippies "general politics" contained in the 1960s youth slogan: "Don't trust anyone over thirty," a 'hippie' notion that after one turns thirty, one becomes an impotent member of the establishment. Seen from hindsight thirty-five years later through the eyes of the 1960s youngsters now grown old, the effect is one of bitter reflection over time, whereby we witness a hip generation's indictment of their own shallow seduction by the cult of youth and the fascistic tendencies that can overwhelm even the most idealistic movement left unchecked.

Structurally, Don't Trust Anyone Over Thirty is a narrative comprised of a "schizophrenic" overlapping of textures, counterpoints, slogans, and clichés. The resulting overlay of musical, opera, puppet theater, and video media is formulated as a sequence of "extensions," a notion that Dan Graham has utilized with great effect throughout the body of his work. Continually splicing disparate media together-opera and rock, the proscenium and the television screen, the 1960s and the 2000s, real people and puppets, the living experience and the installation-Don't Trust Anyone Over Thirty deliberately separates the visual and dramatic elements to underline how the narrative components overlap, while making the objects and subjects of time and culture interchangeable for both the art and the audience.


Don't Trust Anyone Over Thirty, a theatrical rock-opera puppet show conceived by Dan Graham, is a satiric reductio ad absurdum of the American belief in youth and the 'hippie' notion that after one turns thirty, one becomes an impotent member of the establishment. Based on a late sixties teen-film, the plot involves a twenty-four year old rock star who lives in a 'hippie pad' with his girlfriend, an adopted son, members of his rock group, a twenty year old Chinese-American astrologer and female back-up singer, and genius fifteen year old black 'Brain Trust' adviser and accountant. Neil Sky is asked by a Kennedy-style Congressman for his support in his race to become Senator, sunning on the platform of giving eighteen year olds the right to vote. Sky, at the rally, performs a song suggesting an even lower voting age, "14 or Fight."

After the congressman is elected, Sky and his 'Sky Tribe' concoct a plan to push fourteen as the new voting age and the lowest age to be President. His older girlfriend becomes a Washington lobbyist, hosting a party for lawmakers where LSD is planted in their drinks. Stoned on LSD, they are herded into voting for a bill to lower the voting age and limit for Presidency to fourteen. It passes although not without the objection of a seventy year old Senator Albright, who observes ruefully, that 'Youth is wasted on young people."

Sky decides to run for President and is overwhelmingly elected. He advocates ending all foreign policy, saving the whales, and a return to rustic values - a trend of late sixties culture.

The new President moves the Washington White House to the Summer White House in rural Camp David. His first act as President is to order all citizens over thirty to report to government rehabilitation centers where they are given LSD in their drinking water.

A family problem arises when President Sky leaves Camp David for a trip, leaving his [adopted son] Dylan, who protests being left alone at Camp David. Dylan revolts against his father's paternalism and plans a coup, like his dad, against all those over ten. When Sky returns home totally drugged out, Dylan tells him that he is too stoned to be President. Dylan and his friend Zena (modeled after Zena, the Princess Warrior) hands President Sky a piece of paper for him to sign, telling him it is from school. Sky signs it without reading it. In fact, the president has signed the document resigning himself from the Presidency and making Dylan the new President. Finally, Dylan tells his father that a hearse is waiting to take him to the recording studio to cut a new album and to see his old friends, when actually it will be taking him to a drug rehabilitation center.