Jesse Hawley and James Stanley are longtime collaborators and creative partners. They did their first show together in 1997 in New York City and have been working together in theater, music and visual art ever since.
From roughly 2000 to 2017, Hawley and Stanley worked principally with underground experimental collaborative the National Theater of the United States of America ( NTUSA), a company they co-founded with several conspirators. The NTUSA created immersive spectacles and various material artifacts exploring, in both form and content, the history of American popular entertainment, Their re-imagined vaudevilles, self-help seminars, amusement park rides, Chautauquas, and parlor theatricals were staged in raw spaces and established venues including The Kitchen, PS122, the Chocolate Factory, the Public Theater, the Invisible Dog, Walker Arts Center, Stonington Opera House, ICA Boston, Mass MOCA, Segerstrom Center, Vanderbilt University and the Festival of Arts and Ideas. Their work was recognized with an OBIE Award, a Spalding Gray Award, the LMCC Presidents Award and two Henry Hewes Design Award nominations. The NTUSA's final piece was an illustrated acting manual called A New Practical Guide to Rhetorical Gesture and Action published by 53rd State Press featuring over 50 of downtown theater's most iconic performers.
During this time, they also collaborated with other artists. Hawley performed and toured in works by Richard Foreman, Juliana Francis-Kelly, Mallory Calett, Ken Nintzel and Young Jean Lee. Stanley performed and toured in works by Richard Maxwell, Phil Soltanoff, Joanna Settle, Julie Atlas Muz, Darko Tresjnak, Young Jean Lee and Thomas Bradshaw.
As a visual artist, Hawley is the illustrator for two two children's books - What Happened to an Alligator (Pet Snail Books, 2016) and Animals vs. Furniture (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2011), painted murals for Nest ARTS and the set for Young Jean Lee's Songs of the Dragon's Flying to Heaven, and provided illustrations for the cover of published version of that play.
In 2015, Stanley received his PhD from NYU, where his dissertation explored the deployment of 19th century aesthetics in contemporary performance spaces.
Later that year, Hawley and Stanley relocated to Massachusetts where they began a new set of performance-based experiments in collaboration with New England artists and theaters. Their living room show House Warming premiered in 2017 at the Wilbury Theater in Providence, RI and subsequently toured to the B House Performance Garage/Shack (Beacon, NY) and to Torn Page (NYC). In 2019, they created the Olneyville Expo with playwright Darcie Dennigan and the Wilbury Theater.
In the summer of 2018, at a residency at SPACE at Ryder Farm, Hawley and Stanley began exploring the legacy of the short-lived New Wave duo Clever and Vainglorious Kings. While their work was hampered by the pandemic, they were finally able to unearth several of the band's lost songs and are currently producing a reunion concert featuring the original members as part of PVD Fringe in 2022.
Hawley teaches drama and directs plays at the Tabor Academy. Stanley is a Lecturer and Artistic Producer of Theater, Dance & Media at Harvard.