A permanent installation that features a rarely heard performance by John Cage, and will evolve over time through participation from the public


How to Get Started - Live at Bryn Mawr College

Bryn Mawr College and Danspace Project join Slought and the John Cage Trust in reviving John Cage's "How To Get Started" (1989) for the first time ever in Bryn Mawr

Fields of Knowledge
  • Artistic legacies
  • Performance

Organizing Institutions

Bryn Mawr College, Danspace Project, Slought, John Cage Trust


Judy Hussie-Taylor, Laura Kuhn, Aaron Levy


Ken Saylor, Peter Price, Arthur J. Sabatini, Project Projects

Process initiated


Opens to public



Hepburn Teaching Theater
Goodhart Hall
Bryn Mawr College

On the web



50% Formal - 50% Informal

John Cage's 1989 work How To Get Started is a collaborative experiment that explores improvisation and the origin of ideas. In the piece, Cage took the stage with ten note cards, shuffled the deck and spoke 'off the cuff' for no more than three minutes on each idea. His monologue was recorded in collaboration with engineers and looped back as the next card was addressed, creating a complex acoustic layering of his ideas.

In honor of John Cage's centennial, Bryn Mawr College and Danspace Project join with Slought and John Cage Trust on Saturday, February 23rd to revive Cage's work. In this daylong 'happening,' minds from across the arts - including Claudia LaRocco and Elizabeth Streb from 12:30pm-2:00pm and Douglas Dunn and Anne Waldman from 5:00-6:30pm - perform their own realizations in the Hepburn Teaching Theater at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania.

With introductory remarks by curators Laura Kuhn and Aaron Levy, collaborating sound engineer Peter Price, and post-performance conversation with the featured artists and guest curator Judy Hussie-Taylor.

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Performance Roster

Claudia La Rocco is a poet and critic. She writes about performance for the New York Times, is an editor-at-large for the Brooklyn Rail, and contributes to Artforum, Classical TV and Musical America. From 2008 to 2010, she served as a cultural critic for WNYC New York Public Radio.

Anne Waldman is the author of over 40 collections of poetry and poetics, including Fast Speaking Woman (1975) and the Iovis project (1992-1997). She is a member of the Outrider experimental poetry movement and was connected to the Beat movement and the second generation of the New York School.

Elizabeth Streb is an American choreographer, performer, and teacher of contemporary dance. In 1975, upon her arrival in New York City, Streb created her dance company STREB/ Ringside. In 2003, Streb established SLAM (Streb Lab for Action Mechanics) in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

  • Douglas Dunn is an American postmodernist dancer and choreographer. After moving to New York in 1968, he trained with Merce Cunningham, and worked with Yvonne Rainer from 1968-1970. From 1970-1976, Dunn was a member of the avant-garde improvisational group The Grand Union.


Presented by Bryn Mawr College and Danspace Project, and produced by Slought Foundation and John Cage Trust
Guest curated by Judy Hussie-Taylor

Dramaturgy - Aaron Levy
Staging and Scenography - Ken Saylor
Sound Design and Programming - Peter Price
Graphic Design - Project Projects

How to Get Started is presented at Bryn Mawr College in conjunction with a multi-week presentation of choreographer Susan Rethorst's work. Performances of How to Get Started at Goodhart Hall will be followed by performances of Rethorst's 208 East Broadway Part 5 (Premiere) at 3pm, and Behold Bold Sam Dog at 8pm.

How to Get Started is adapted for the theater at Bryn Mawr College from the installation at Slought, which was curated by Laura Kuhn, John Cage Trust; Aaron Levy, Slought Foundation; and Arthur J. Sabatini, Arizona State University. The theater production debuted on stage at the Thalia Theater at Symphony Space in New York on May 4, 2012.

Related publications

Artist John Cage performs How to Get Started (1989), in which he explores the usefulness of improvisation and engages in an experiment with thinking in public, before a live audience.

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