For the first time, Voice & Vision held its annual ENVISION Retreat in June--avoiding some of July's monstrous heat. On June 15, we headed upstate to Bard College, and began our 14th Retreat! The projects invited to ENVISION 2008 were:
THE QUIVER OF CHILDREN by Charity Henson-Ballard, directed by Louis Scheeder
"How much do we owe our blood?" asks Charity Henson-Ballard’s new play, The Quiver of Children, which searches for an answer within one Southern Black family’s journey. After the death of Ruby, her friend and sister-in-law, Mona John returns to a life she left behind to be her nephew’s guardian. We glimpse the past as Mona John rediscovers the house that held her family’s fading hopes and failing dreams. This haunting, multi-generational drama faces secret truths and their consequences.
SMILE by Kathryn Walat, directed by Melissa Kievman
Thirty-something New Yorker Cassie is forced to move herself and her pet turtle, Turtle, into her best friend Rona’s place after her apartment burns down. Turtle seems to be depressed in his new digs, while Rona’s manuscript on Virginia Woolf is molded into a self-help book by her editors, and Cassie’s dissertation (along with her new romance) appears to be standing still. To top it all off, the two find themselves fired from their jobs and Cassie’s less-than-helpful mother shows up at their door. What is there to smile about?
TERRIBLE THINGS performed and written by Katie Pearl, directed and written by Lisa D’Amour, with choreography by Emily Johnson
Terrible Things begins with 600 marshmallows, creating the space and defining what the play is all about: Katie Pearl. She takes the audience into the mind, body and spirit of her past and present, ignoring traditional boundaries—exploring who Katie is, has been, wants to be. In the process, the performance questions what is real, who we imagine ourselves to be, and what we really are. A movement-based performance,Terrible Things makes us question where the tangible ends and the collective begins.
THE PASSION OF THE HAUSFRAU: MOTHERHOOD, ILLUMINATED performed and written by Bess Welden, inspired by Nicole Chaison’s graphic novel, directed by Annette Jolles
The Passion of the Hausfrau: Motherhood, Illuminated is inspired and adapted from Nicole Chaison’s cult quarterly Hausfrau Muthah-Zine, soon to be published as a graphic novel. It follows the trials and misadventures of the Hausfrau, a stay-at-home mom struggling to deal with the realities of parenting in the 21st Century, while reclaiming her artistic voice as a graphic novelist.
THE TELEPHONE BOOK by Ariana Reines, in collaboration with Sunder Ganglani
The Telephone Book, written by Ariana Reines, is a new performance work based on Avital Ronnell’s literary text, Telephone Book; Technology, Schizophrenia & Electric Speech. Ronnell’s text examines our fixation on communication technology and its innately negative impact on human beings—humanity trapped in the tight fist of technology. Influenced heavily by Ronnell’s dilemma, Reines’ play acts as a switchboard, connecting characters from Freud to Heidegger.
I HAVE BEEN TO HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR by Chiori Miyagawa, directed by Jean Wagner, with original music by Du Yun
A young Japanese woman dies instantly at the moment of atomic bomb detonation. Fourteen years later, a film about peace is shot in Hiroshima. At present day, three Americans watch the DVD of this movie. With shifting realities, transforming characters, and an expansive sound-score and video, I Have Been to Hiroshima Mon Amour creates a mystical world, exploring war and destruction through intimate love stories.
In addition to the above projects, two artists-in-residence joined us at the Retreat:
Writer in Residence Lenora Champagne worked on her new play Staying Afloat in which, in the face of global warming, two women find themselves stranded on an iceberg--with a polar bear;
Guest Artist Karen Finleydeveloped and presented her newest performance piece,Impulse to Suck, which explores the possibly fictional causes and emotions behind the Elliot Spitzer scandal .
The Summer Theatre Intensive (STI) program participants took master classes with Ruth Maleczech, and Sharon Fogarty in performance, and Theodora Skipitares in design. With these three mentors, the group created a new work, entitled Drift, a response to Orhan Pamuk’s novel Snow. The group used different forms of media and puppetry alongside original text to express their visions of the novel.
All of the above projects received guidance from our dazzlingly perceptive dramaturgs, Wendy Weckwerth and Amy Boratko.
It wasn’t all work, however. Living together in Old Robbins house, we had a lovely, large dining area complete with a stone patio, and a beautiful view where we watched the sunset in the fine June evenings. Retreat Chef Christopher James and sous chef Noah Odabashian provided the nightly feast. We also had morning and evening yoga classes for artists, students, and staff alike, taught by 2007 Retreat Artist Sahar Javedani, who also kick-started the second week with a belly-dancing workshop!
Our rockin' Retreat staff was a fabulous group of Retreat veterans! We would like to take this moment to publicly thank them for all their amazing, hard work!
Amanda Cooper, PRODUCER Margot Newkirk, COMPANY MANAGER & ASSOCIATE PRODUCER Matthew Waldron, STI COORDINATOR & TECHNICAL COORDINATOR Lily Perlmutter, STAGE MANAGER Rachael Hayes, OFFICE MANAGER
Our four summer interns were irreplaceable! Many, many kudos to Rachel Fettner, Aryana Law, Nora DeVeau-Rosen, and Jenny Weinbloom!