Gestures is a new object opera by Megan Murtha which I have been directing in its early rehearsals during Megan’s residency at Target Margin Theater.
We’ll be showing a bit of our work on December 15th at 3pm at THE DOXSEE THEATER at Target Margin Theater’s home in Sunset Park (232 52nd St, Brooklyn). This afternoon’s showing is paired with fellow artists in residence Catherine Brookman and Lisa Fagan.
Gestures is an abstract piece featuring the talents of Leonie Bell, Kaaron Briscoe, Megan Lang, Emma Wiseman, Julia Sirna-Frest, Maggie Robbinson Katz, and Katie Proulx who sing and puppeteer objects of paper and yarn.
I can’t even begin to express how excited I am to be involved in the making of this piece. Stay tuned for more!
The Space Between the Letters has shifted gears this fall.
After performing TSBTL as a show in theaters for audiences of theater-goers and adult students and anyone in the local community who is interested, we have begun offering workshops in Adult Classrooms all over NYC. In October, we worked with classrooms in Flatbush, Bedstuy, East New York, and Carroll Gardens in Brooklyn as well as at Lehman College in the Bronx. We have also been offering public workshops open to anyone to continue bridging the gaps in our neighborhoods between those who struggle with basic literacy and those who don’t think very much about literacy in their day-to-day lives.
These workshops have been really inspiring! The company has devised content based on the performance we developed over the last two years as well as Theater of the Oppressed games and other exercises generated in our development rehearsals. The adult students and general public have responded to questions of access and power, to agency, and have had moving experiences sharing stories from their lives with one another and making new stories, dances, songs, tableaux, and conversations together.
This new phase of work and development will continue in 2020 when we will work with one classroom for several sessions. Stay tuned with what we’re up to at spacebetweentheletters.com
After workshopping The Ringdove in summer 2018 with Mettawee River Theater Company in beautiful Salem, NY, I was honored to tour the show in summer 2019 in upstate NY, VT, and MA. Our final weekend of performances will be in New York City at Cathedral St. John the Divine.
I began working with Mettawee River Theater Company in 2017 with the summer tour of Before the Sun and Moon. Immediately, I fell in love with Ralph Lee’s puppets and the company’s mission. The company has been touring folk tales and stories from all around the world in rural communities in the summer for 44 years! This work has had many shapes as the company grew and evolved. In my experience, the company members live in a big farm house in Salem, NY owned by Artistic and Managing Directors Ralph Lee and Casey Compton. Company members rehearse outside in the yard and work together to help the company and household run smoothly during the tour: we cook meals for each other, maintain the touring vehicles, help with production notes, and take turns cleaning the bathroom. When the tour gets going, we pack up the show into the company truck and cars and caravan to each night’s performance location. There, weather permitting, we set up the show, have a picnic dinner and swimming if there’s a good spot, warm up, perform, strike the show, and then drive back to Salem. Each summer I’ve toured, I have been overwhelmed by the large and dedicated audiences that attend these shows. At every performance, someone tells us about their experience coming to Mettawee shows as a child and introduces us to their kids or grand-kids and thanks Ralph and Casey for bringing rich artistry and magic to their towns.
Puppets and Masks
Mask and puppetry work has been an interest since I first got a taste performing with puppets in the Erie Youtheatre production of The Little Mermaid in middle school. Under Richard Davis’ direction, I was able to construct and paint an eel puppet to be used in a big dance number when Ariel is visiting the sea witch Ursula. The eels had glow in the dark paint and the number used black lights. I thought it was the most amazing thing ever.
I went on to study mask with Prof. Shelley Wyant at Bard College for several years. In 2007, I spent the summer as an apprentice with Bread and Puppet Theater in Glover, VT where I devised and performed in mask and puppetry circus acts, sang shape note music and Georgian a capella songs for the first time, gardened and tended pigs, performed with the Lubberland Dance Co, and learned stilting basics. I travelled with the company to the Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival where I stilted as a stork! For several years, I continued performing with Bread and Puppet in August in Vermont and in New York in December.
During the Occupy Movement, I became a very active member of the working group The People’s Puppets.
In my own creative work, I tend to incorporate puppets, masks, and objects that demand an imaginative leap. In femme pathos, a chorus of masked fruit heads haunt Claire’s mind and perform a wacky surgery on the Hungry Ghost. In Spectral Findings, I explored Goethe’s experiments with light and color alongside Faust and “Der Erlkönig” as a shadow puppet opera. In <the invisible draft>, the hung fabric set became a shape-shifting actor in the space.
Apart from my work with Mettawee River Theater Company, I’ve had the joy of performing as a puppeteer in New York in Erin Courtney’s The Service Road, in Megan Murtha’s work including Cadillac Play and Too Many Beers, or Sea Legs. I’ve also performed in my own shadow puppet/overhead pieces with Colors Project and Spectral Findings.
THE SPACE BETWEEN THE LETTERS is a new multi-disciplinary, research-based performance project that investigates adult learning, the process of knowledge production, and the socio-political fabric of education in the United States. Integrating recorded interviews with adult students and teachers, interactive video, live-drawing, sound design, and choreography, THE SPACE BETWEEN THE LETTERS explores the perspective of adult learners and considers the ways in which education can provide tools to become empowered as a citizen. The project was developed as part of The Civilians’ R&D group and is being produced in part at Harvestworks Digital Media Arts Center through the Artist-In-Residence Program.
Lead Artist: Eva von Schweinitz Ensemble: Lanxing Fu, Claire Moodey, Jonelle Robinson, Paul “P-Funk” Stalling & Chris White Choreography: Katie Rose McLaughlin Set: Dan Daly Lighting: Alejandro Fajardo Creative Coding: Sebastian Gonzalez Dixon Sound: Gavin Price Easel Demon: Tyler Caffall Stage Manager: Sam Silbiger Contributions from John Gasper, Barakaat Livan, Letícia Machado, Alice Pencavel, Gavin Price,Nicolas Noreña, Eleni Zaharopoulos & Courtney Williams