Backward People (2020) is an experimental theater performance, conceived and facilitated by visual artist Joshua Kaufman and a team of creative collaborators, including an ensemble of performers. 

Capturing themes from pulp horror, this experimental follow-up to 2019’s Unchilding carefully assembles a world of inner turmoil and dread through a “ceremony of absence,” repressed grief and subtext.

Trading a grand concert hall for an intimate, pared-down rehearsal space, Backward People appeared as a one-night-only performance in February 2020 at Manhattan Theatre Club Studios.

The hour-long sold out performance was set to an ambient soundscape and featured virtually no set, instead utilizing the concept of body as action. Placed in immersive proximity, the audience experienced the performers posed as ephemeral statues occupying an uncanny space between stillness and suspension, displacement and embodiment.


JOSHUA KAUFMAN (Director) is a New York-based multidisciplinary artist, interested in creating work that explores tragedy, characterization, the grotesque and embodiment.

DIWAS GURUNG (Sound Design) is a multi-instrumentalist, music producer, singer and sound editor from Kathamndu, Nepal currently living in Brooklyn, NY. He has scored music for the documentaries Circle of Poison and Mel Milap and currently works as an editor for Rolling Stone Music Now, a weekly podcast by Rolling Stone magazine. He is also widely renowned for his work in the field of Nepalese independent folk music as both a producer and a performer.

ALLIE MAROTTA (Associate Facilitator, Creative Consultant) is a collaborative theatre-maker based in Brooklyn, NY. Allie is a staff correspondent for No Proscenium. She has presented work in venues like Teatro SEA, Theater for the New City, Dixon Place, HERE Arts Center, Theatre Row, and FringeNYC, as well as internationally in Ecuador, England, Argentina, and Greece. Allie currently teaches with Wingspan Arts, Treasure Trunk Theatre, and Falconworks Theater Company. Education: MA Contemporary Performance Practices (RHUL), BA Acting, BA Directing (Pace University).

VANGELINE (Directorial Consultant) is a teacher, dancer, and choreographer specializing in the Japanese postwar avant-garde movement form Butoh. She is the Artistic Director of the Vangeline Theater (New York), a dance company firmly rooted in the tradition of Japanese Butoh while carrying it into the 21st century, and the founder of the New York Butoh Institute.

GREGG GOLDSTON (Movement Consultant) Theatre credits include: Touring “Louder Than Words” (a one-man show) internationally for 40+ years. Performer with Compagnie de Mime Marcel Marceau. Television credits: Sesame Street: Alphabet Pictures presents Letter V & Letter K. Coaching Credits: Anne Hathaway, Julie Harris. Recipient of two Choreography Fellowships from the NEA.
LEWIS TANGI (Live Performance Music) is an emerging experimental instrumentalist and recording artist, with interest in collaborative and interdisciplinary devising processes, as well as sound therapy. Backward People is Lewis’ first theater credit.

(Wardrobe, Creative Consultant) has created a name for himself planning and executing over a dozen fashion shows in New York, Denver and Seattle. He is currently working for IMG on New York Mens Day and New York Fashion Week. He will be debuting his first full womenswear runway collection in Houston this summer.

AARON WEININGER (Production Management) is a multihyphenate creative professional excited to bring his diverse management, theater and recording experience to Backward People. Select credits include: Host of the Yes I Am podcast, House Manager for Unchilding (2019), Theatrical Electrician for Bard Summerscape (2014, 2015), and Carpenter for Boston Lyric Opera (2014).

KYLE KUCHARSKI (Creative Consultant) is a New York-based writer and visual journalist covering the arts, culture and travel. His work has appeared in New Noise Magazine, Narratively, and Indagare.

JULIAN LEON (Creative Consultant) is a visual artist, art director and analyst based out of New York. He’s currently building brand and digital experiences as principal of The Missive, a studio focused on design, visual arts, and process-oriented research.

CRISTIAN SCHMALLER (Carpentry) is a motivated, ambitious person with great energy. Raised in Romania, Cristian came to the US nine years ago. He fell in love with the diversity and pulse of New York. Working as an individual contractor he has learned to anticipate his client’s needs.

AVIVA LEAH FORTUNA (Make Up) is a freelance make up artist. She has been working in the industry for a decade, since she started out designing makeup for theater, opera, Gilbert and Sullivan, and student films while attending Brown University. Documentary credits include works still in production with Kate Novack and George Lois. Film credits include Rome Travelogue. Assistant work in theater includes The Lady in the Dark. Additional areas of work include fashion, commercial and corporate.