“Tie a string to something and see where it takes you”


bobrauschenbergamerica, by SITI Company member Charles L. Mee, takes us on a wild road trip through the American landscape—written as Robert Rauschenberg, one of America’s greatest living artists, might have conceived it had he been a playwright instead of a painter. More than a biographical portrait, bobrauschenbergamerica is a tribute to one artist’s singular vision. Traveling easily through time, the play’s kaleidoscopic images take us from Rauschenberg’s childhood home to a New York café to the open road –  looking backwards fondly with a tinge of regret. As one character tells us, “You think you see what’s present … but you don’t, you never do. All you can ever see is the past.” The past that informs this work is a complex mixture of personal history—Rauschenberg’s, Mee’s, and SITI’s, as well as the history of a nation and culture. Drawing liberally from a variety of sources, Mee and SITI have woven together a tapestry of moments in time that provide us not only with a window on our past but a glimpse into our future.


Creative Team

Akiko AizawaAnne Bogart (Director)
J. Ed AraizaCharles L Mee (Playwright)
Will BondJames Schuette (Set/Costume Design)
Danyon DavisBrian Scott (Light Design)
Leon IngulsrudDarron L West (Sound Design)
Ellen LaurenElizabeth Moreau (Stage Management)
Kelly Mauer
Barney O’Hanlon
Jen Taher
Gian-Murray Gianino
See full credits at the SITI Digital Archive


Actors Theater of Louisville (Marc Masterson, Artistic Director)
Louisville, KY
Humana Festival of New American Plays
March 22, 2001

Production History


“In its combined exuberance of performance, vigor of imagination and boldness of innovation, 
bobrauschenbergamerica is a liberating, life-giving work of art. … Now what needs to happen is for this very American creation to tour America.”

Chicago Tribune

“A spectacular pileup of performance pieces that collectively celebrate the life and vision of the artist Robert Rauschenberg. … It was the high point of the 25th annual Humana Festival of New American Plays.”

New York Times

“Thanks to a dazzling, prismatic production from Anne Bogart & her ever-extraordinary SITI Company, Charles L. Mee’s fascinating and luminous bobrauschenbergamerica was the memorable highlight. … The guileless SITI actors combine the enthusiasm of kids with the performance sophistication of old pros. It’s a stunner!”


Notes About Process

Rauschenberg’s work has spanned nearly 50 years and encompassed a breathtaking array of media. From painting to sculpture to set design and photography, Rauschenberg’s energy and exuberance have redefined the boundaries between art and life. “What is thrilling about his work,” says Mee, “is that he got it from the streets, not only from what other people ignored or neglected but from what they rejected—from garbage. There’s a happy, improvisational quality to his art, and that’s what I’m trying to do here.” The joy that’s found in Rauschenberg’s expansive pieces, which transform the most mundane objects—Coke bottles, tires, chairs and doorways—into works suffused with life and meaning, is evident in the rollicking series of images and scenes that populate Mee’s play. This collage of people and places, music and dancing, love stories and picnics, business schemes and shootings, chicken jokes and golfing, captures the sheer exhilaration of living in a country where people make up their lives as they go. The result is a portrait of America: a land of endless vistas, heartbreaking disappointments and unbridled optimism. 

The text for this piece was developed in a workshop with Tali Gai, Jane Comfort, Kathleen Turco-Lyon, Rebecca Brown, Reba Herman, Alec Duffy, Jacki Goldhammer, and Carolyn Clark Smith and incorporates texts from them as well as from Robert Rauschenberg, Fred Becker, Philip Morrison, Walt Whitman, William S. Burroughs, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Allen Ginsberg, and Laurie Williams. bobrauschenbergamerica was made possible by generous grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and True Love Productions


bobrauschenbergamerica @ the SITI Digital Archive