WORLDS WITHOUT NUMBER : THE FILMS OF STEPHEN GROO
Spectacle Theater and Shoot the Lobster are pleased to present a selection of music videos, shorts, and a feature film by the Utah based filmmaker STEPHEN GROO. Many of the selected works will be screened publicly for the first time.
Creating his work as Utah Wolf Productions for over fourteen years in the city of Provo Utah, Stephen Groo has been described by the filmmaker and artist Chris Coy as “an enigma—a highly prolific filmmaker with a body of work that speaks to his force of will and creative vision while exposing the limitations of the backyard blockbuster. His 125+ short films, music videos, feature films, and training videos have it all: mermaids, vampires, elves, angels, sailors, schoolgirls, devils, damsels, zombies, soldiers, she-hulks, and real-life action heroes. These figures populate worlds without number, a pastiche of popular culture collaged from Michael Bay movie posters and Saturday morning cartoons.
As a viewer, it’s natural to laugh at the limitations of a film by Stephen Groo. We laugh as we recognize the obvious imperfections in his homespun narrative fabrics. We laugh at the production gap between Hollywood and Utah County. We laugh because Fantasy is uglier than casting agents have led us to believe. We laugh (nervously) at the possibility of our own inclusion as actors in a Utah Wolf Production. We laugh, immensely pleased with our advantaged position as passive spectators. Like the royals in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, we laugh as Bottom’s amateurish theatre troupe faithfully performs “a most lamentable comedy.” But if we succumb to laughter only, we miss what’s crucial: the implicit belief that art can save the world. That imagination is real.
Art is, in fact, saving the world for Stephen Groo. It’s saving the world for his players, too. It’s saving all of our worlds—circumscribing them inside a shared universe that desperately needs Fantasy to fight back the Dark Lords of Reality. Like Bottom, Groo freely cavorts with the humans and the fairies, modeling the transformative potential of art and the euphoric freedom of abandonment to the wildness of make-believe.
From “Groo and His Players”, Utah Biennial Catalogue, 2013.