Houston's Performance Art Festival Really Wants Shia LaBeouf to Show Up

Experimental Action Festival creates a viral marketing campaign to lure the celebrity performer.

By Emily Juhasz January 24, 2017

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Shia LaBeouf at the 64th Berlinale International Film Festival.

“Dear Shia LaBeouf,” begins the open letter to the actor by Experimental Action Festival, Houston’s performance art celebration happening February 23–25. The inaugural event will feature a dynamic roster of local and international experimental art performances that, according to the organization, “Excite, inspire and pioneer ideas…cultivating an environment of engagement, exchange and exploration through progressive creative action while exposing Houston audiences to innovative performance art." 

To promote the festival, the group started a viral creative campaign, called #ShiaShowUp, to attract the actor and performance artist to attend and perform at the Houston festival. The Bayou City has spread the word on social media, posting viral videos from community artists that feature the hashtag with the hopes of garnering enough attention to attract the celebrity.

“We really respect Shia and his collaborative performance art work with Nastja Säde Rönkkö and Luke Turner. #ShiaShowUp is a collaborative performance art piece in and of itself, inspired by their work,” says Julia Claire Wallace, co-founder/director of Experimental Action. “The interaction between celebrity and art has always been fascinating to me, so this conceptual marketing campaign is a sincere effort to bring Shia LaBeouf to Houston.”

But not everyone is stoked about a potential appearance by LaBeouf. At a Houston City Council meeting on January 10, Joseph Ballard addressed the council (incorrectly addressing Mayor Turner as former “Mayor Parker” and referring to the council as “ladies and gentlemen of the jury,”) and shared, “Our great city is at a crossroads. It has come to my attention that there’s a group of counterculture anarchists who have decided to create a social media campaign to invite a criminal to our great city.” As of now, the City Council has done nothing to prevent the potential appearance of LaBeouf.

Despite an impressive online campaign, Experimental Action still hasn’t heard from LeBeouf or his team. But even if the notoriously aloof actor doesn’t make an appearance, audiences can still expect great performances.

“Even though we are a few weeks away from this year’s event, the energy and excitement is already building to a fever pitch,” says Wallace. “We are absolutely thrilled by the roster of incredible artists joining us from all over the world, and we feel honored by the opportunity to engage and shine a spotlight on such powerful creativity. I can assure you that Houston will never be the same after this year’s event.”

Experimental Action Festival

From $12–30. All events from 8 p.m.–midnight. Thursday, Feb 23 at Notsuoh (314 Main St.); Friday, Feb 24 at The Secret Group (2101 Polk St.); Saturday, Feb 25 at Walter’s Downtown (1120 Naylor St.). experimentalaction.com 

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