Catharsis Department of Mutant Stages

Background Story

Catharsis on the Mall is a unique political demonstration because it includes multiple performance stages of varying size and design that by themselves express demands to lawmakers through mobility, interactivity, and radical inspirational expression.

Photo by Ben Droz

Since November 2016, when the glorious Abraxas Dragon came from California and was assembled on the National Mall site, Catharsis planners have come to understand that National Park Service (NPS) requires what might be called a “Mutant Vehicle” in a different jurisdiction to be a parked “Mutant Stage” on the National Mall.  Despite serious permitting hurdles in 2016, the Abraxas Dragon was assembled and utilized over 5 days as a “Mutant Stage” on the National Mall and on Sunday, November 13, the Abraxas Dragon rolled behind marchers at sunrise to the Capitol building as a “Mutant Vehicle” to demand support for PTSD research. It was was ridden back to the Catharsis Mall site by 200 people with a police escort and marchers near by.  

Mutant Plans for 2017

In 2017 we hope to repeat the Mutant March to Capitol with multiple mutant stages.

The Mutant March will make the same demands as last year as well as demanding the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment to the US Constitution.

When is the Mutant March?

The Mutant March to the Capitol will happen at sunrise on Sunday, November 12, 2017 beginning at the Catharsis site around the National Mall and back. Like last year, we will request a waiver to the NPS stage regulations to allow for mobility, provided no one rides in or on the Mutant Stage (except for essential personnel like drivers and equipment operators) while the vehicle is in motion to the Capitol building. Once at the Capitol photos will be taken with people on the parked Mutant Stages.

What is a Mutant Stage?

A Mutant Stage must be inspiring, generate a sense of awe and magic, and be mobile.  A Mutant Stage should speak volumes without saying a single word.  It should relate to the overall art theme and political demands of Catharsis on the Mall in its design and its use.  It must come with a Mutant Stage team that will hold vigil 24 hours a day during the build and throughout the event.  

What is the difference between a Mutant Stage & a Mutant Vehicle?

A Mutant Stage is a permanently parked Mutant Vehicle.  With motorized vehicles prohibited from driving on the National Mall’s grass & paved pathways, all Mutant Vehicles will serve as Mutant Stages until sunrise Sunday, November 12, when they will be driven off the National Mall to participate in the Mutant March to the Capitol.

How To Participate?

Mutant Stage teams must provide the following to qualify and be authorized for Mutant Stage Status at Catharsis on the Mall:

  1. Provide Catharsis on the Mall a letter of intent to participate this November by September 15, 2017 which includes detailed drawings of the Mutant Stage, including a material list, power requirements, equipment to be used on site, safety perimeter if needed, inspections or certifications for welding and construction, and concept drawings or photos.  Email: 
  2. Provide a build and deconstruction plan within a five day / six night time frame that includes a resource protection plan for turf protection as no equipment can be stored directly on grass turf.
  3. Provide two lead organizer contacts emails and cell phone numbers and schedule for staffing your Mutant Stage when in use.
  4. Secure, or rent through Catharsis on the Mall organizers, Matrax or NPS-approved translucent hard plastic flooring for any area of grass the Mutant Stage is on or drives on.  (Catharsis will work to place Mutant Stages to minimize this expense and utilize drivable pathways.)
  5. Agree to lend your Mutant Stage to Catharsis for showcased speakers and artists throughout the event but not exceeding 50% of your team’s own programing.
  6. Provide a copy of the Mutant Stage vehicle registration and insurance.
  7. All Flame effects need a safety plan and may not be allowed by the Park Service.
  8. Any Lasers must be operated by licensed FCC operators and may not be allowed by the Park Service.

What’s Required to Bring a Mutant Stage?

You will need final approval from Catharsis on the Mall to bring your Mutant Stage. Mutant Stages are self-funded so you need money to cover your costs!  As a free event, Catharsis on the Mall does not have the resources at this time to offer grants or honorariums for Mutant Stages.  Catharsis on the Mall will provide power and other assistance to Mutant Stage teams.  More importantly, the National Park Service, which manages the National Mall, has a permitting process that requires detailed drawings of the Mutant Stage along with exact specifications.  The maximum height of a Mutant Stage is 45 feet and the there is no restriction on length.  The widith of mutant stage could impede the ability to drive on DC streets but if a giant dragon can do it it’s likely you can too. Mutant Stage wheels must never drive directly on grass.

Can we just bring our small Mutant Vehicle and not use it as a Mutant Stage?

While it is possible to build your Mutant Vehicle on site and not use it as a Mutant Stage, but as an interactive sculpture, it might not be worth the time and effort to transport and assemble the Mutant Vehicle only to participate in the Mutant March to the Capitol.  Unfortunately, motorized vehicles are not permitted to drive on the grass without appropriate covering. Therefore, small Mutant Vehicles would be required to remain parked at all times or parked off the permitted site.

What About Peddle Powered Mutant Vehicles?

Mutant Stages built upon pedal powered bicycles and tricycles do not require permitting by NPS and may drive on the grass and attend Catharsis on the Mall. We still want to know what you bringing. Send photo and drawings to .

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