I MET MARIANNE Weems in 1980 while car-pooling from Seattle to New York in a blizzard, and we became friends. In New York we played in a band called Food. I moved back home to Seattle to write, but Marianne stayed in New York. She continued performing and directing, worked with Richard Foreman, Meredith Monk, and the Wooster Group (among others), collaborated with actor Ron Vawter, then founded her own performance group, the Builders Association. The Builders Association includes John Cleater, Dan Dobson, Amber Lasciak, Ellen McCartney, Peter Norrman, David Pence, Heaven Phillips, Jennifer Tipton, Mark Uhl, Jeff Webster, and Marianne. This weekend they bring their sixth (and latest) multimedia performance, Jet Lag, to On the Boards. Marianne and I caught up over e-mail.

Mari, I recall an evening we presented at an unheated NY club called 8 BC, in 1983. As I remember, our performance earned us catcalls and a shower of lime rinds and drink straws. I was sorry I had ever left kind and gentle Seattle. Were New York audiences just more hostile then?

I do remember "playing" my "electric viola" to your "saxophone," and yes, perhaps audience response helped guide me in the long run off the stage and into the director's chair. New York audiences are critical, which in the long run is good training.

I had no clue back then how stuff I admired could inform any choices in my own work. I wonder how you got from just being in awe of great work to having some clarity and focus about why and how you could create your own work? Did you just suddenly realize it, or did you fake it until it came clear, or what?

Working with artists you admire is a great education. I had contact with a whole tradition of experimental theater in New York -- Richard Foreman, Wooster, Mabou Mines, Meredith Monk, all of whom created a new language for performance during that time. As far as my development, I guess it's a combination of finagling work, watching carefully, and then trying to build on the language you've learned and take it somewhere new. The work the Builders Association is doing has more to do with technology, and the interface between live performance and media, than with any of these companies.

Which technologies in particular interest you? And why have you chosen live performance as the medium through which you'll engage them?

Now that everything is available electronically (to a certain sector of culture), and most of our experience is mediated by some form of technology, there's a renewed premium on "liveness," on live presence, and that gives performance a different frame and definition. We're also interested in making theater which reflects contemporary culture, and that culture is framed by technological devices, and fueled by mass media. Theater doesn't have to be "protected" from media, it can incorporate those tools for storytelling, in a way that re-animates theater.

So how do these intervening technologies come into play in Jet Lag?

Jet Lag is a collaboration between the Builders Association and the architect and media artists Diller + Scofidio. It is a "crossmedia" performance based on two true stories about travel. One is the story of the sailor Donald Crowhurst, who faked a journey around the world, and the second is about a grandmother named Sarah Krassnoff, who made 167 consecutive transatlantic flights with her grandson, remaining in the air continuously until she died of jet lag. In Crowhurst's world of faked geography, he manufactures his "journey" and his identity through a series of films and audio tapes he created for the press. We reproduce his system on stage -- the film camera and reel-to-reel tape deck he used to record and create this "heroic" image of himself -- so the audience sees him record and review his story. We also play with video in the airport, both in surveillance shots (which we recorded in the Brussels International Airport over a grueling 24-hour period) and in the antiseptic, monocultural airport environment which was created through computer graphics. We also use a dense, kind of cinematic soundtrack in our pieces, created by Dan Dobson.

Sounds expensive.

You'd be surprised how much consumer-quality equipment can do.

Do you ever miss the old low-budget days?

Compared to Las Vegas, a Broadway show, or anything on television, we're still in them.