eight squares of characters from the show

Conspiracy Influencer

Bailey Scieszka
May 13 at 7PM, Theater
May 26 at 7PM, Online

Bailey Scieszka’s Conspiracy Influencer is a four-part theatrical extravaganza premiering at EMPAC. This newly commissioned performance combines puppetry, clownery, and drag. It is set in a madcap world populated by characters like anthropomorphic Skittles, Nixon’s dead dog, a talking Comet pizza slice, a mob of Beanie Babies, and a demonic clown named Old Put (Scieszka’s alter ego). The cast of puppets satirize the wacky conspiracy theories that spawn in dark corners of the internet and contribute to the polarized socio-political landscape in the United States. Over the course of the performance follow Old Put’s meteoric rise from humble content creator, who unboxes dolls on Youtube, to celebrity influencer at the center of a disinformation campaign. The performance is the climax of Scieszka’s collaboration with curators from CCS Bard, EMPAC’s production team, and Philadelphia-based composer Joseph Hallman.

The play explores the ways in which history is remembered, resurrected, and sensationalized in America's entertainment-centered culture. The dense, absurdist, and hilarious dialogue in Conspiracy Influencer is steeped in the vocabulary of celebrity gossip, the internet, and social media. The characters reference ideas drawn from 24-hour blog and cable news outlets, cyclically mutated on the subcultural message boards of Reddit, 4chan, and Youtube’s comment sections. Scieszka critically alludes to fabulists who underwrite white American ideology in these forums, humorously and acerbically recasting the iconography of populism via Old Put and their puppet ensemble. Scieszka uses this divisive visual and verbal rhetoric as an emotional counterweight to her otherwise bright and playful imagery in a work that emasculates the trolls of the internet’s echo chambers. Laced with clever pop culture references and outlandish hijinks, this puppet show is a pointed meditation on the current state of collective consciousness in the United States.

Conspiracy Influencer is curated by Isabella Achenbach, Eduardo Andres Alfonso, Angelica Arbelaez, Min Sun Jeon, and Guy Weltchek, second year graduate students from the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College.


Please join us for the online premiere of Conspiracy Influencer on May 26 at 7PM. 

Main Image: The cast of Bailey Scieszka’s Conspiracy Influencer, 2022. Courtesy the artist.

Program Notes

Listen to EMPAC's In Production podcast for a conversation between EMPAC video engineer Ryan Jenkins and the artist and curators on the making of Conspiracy Influencer. 

Listen now on, Apple Podcasts, Pocket Casts, Spotify, Stitcher, and Castbox.

Dates + Tickets

Time-Based Visual Art
Conspiracy Influencer
Bailey Scieszka
Friday 13
7:00 PM
May 2022

This performance is being presented for campus audiences only at this time.

Time-Based Visual Art
Online Premiere: Conspiracy Influencer
Bailey Scieszka
Thursday 26
7:00 PM
May 2022

The online premiere of Conspiracy Influencer will be available from 7PM Thursday May 26–9AM Tuesday May 31.

Presented By

EMPAC Spring 2022


Production Credits

Presented in collaboration with the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College.

Conspiracy Influencer is curated by Isabella Achenbach, Eduardo Andres Alfonso, Angelica Arbelaez, Min Sun Jeon, and Guy Weltchek (CCS Bard '22).