The 2009 ENVISION Lab featured readings of projects from the 2008 Retreat. The three readings took place on the set of I Have Been to Hiroshima Mon Amour at the Ohio Theatre.
May 12: Charity Henson-Ballard's large and wonderful cast read the latest draft of her new play The Quiver of Children in which, after the brutal death of the family matriarch, the Trenton family discovers their familial relationships are grounded in empty traditions, shameful secrets and deep resentment. As they fend for themselves, they find they have both the power to fulfill and destroy one another. The Quiver of Children unearths the life-altering choices within the Trenton family and honors how the miraculous can arise out of the disgraceful. Thanks to director Louis Scheeder and cast Donald Ballard, Akintola Jiboyewa, Samuel Stricklen, Nikkole Salter, Amanda Bruton, Tia James, Glen Gordon, Candice McKoy, Maurice McRae, and Airrion Doss for making this a wonderful evening for Charity.
May 19: Lenora Champagne workshopped a new draft of Staying Afloat, in which, in the face of global warming, two women find themselves stranded on an iceberg - with a polar bear. Seated at an icy white table, Tricia Rodley played Wendy, Yvonne Woods played Mary Jo and Valda Setterfield played Priscilla, the wise polar bear. ENVISION alumna Melissa Kievman directed the reading.
May 26: Karen Finley read the latest version of her performance piece Impulse to Suck: The Performance of the Apology and the Separation of Sex and State. Karen was in Albany, New York on March 10, 2008 in the Capital for a conference waiting to hear a speech from Governor Eliot Spitzer on Reproductive Health. Instead, later that day, Spitzer performed an apology with his supportive, devastated wife standing next to him. In this new work, Finley speaks about the performance of this apology, the erotic transference of the media's fixation on Spitzer's frown and the emotional starring role for his wife, Silda. Looking at the psychodrama within the intimacy of our political leaders, Finley pauses to see the agony of the son's need for approval from the father and the ancient wrestling of the feminine archetypes of mother and whore.
Special thanks to V&V Artistic Intern Laura Stuart and Stage Manager Aryana Law for all their hard work.
I Have Been to Hiroshima Mon Amour
In May of 2009, Voice & Vision and Crossing Jamaica Avenue co-produced I Have Been to Hiroshima Mon Amour at the Ohio Theatre. The project was the fruit of a multi-year collaboration between playwright Chiori Miyagawa and director Jean Wagner, who developed the project through readings at New Dramatists and The Women's Project, The Culture Project's 2008 Women Center Stage Festival, and the 2008 ENVISION Lab and Retreat.
The Ohio production featured music and sound by Du Yun, projections by Hap Tivey, lights by Rick Martin, costumes by Liz Prince, choreography by Hillary Spector, and sets by Glenn Reed. The amazing cast of Joel de la Fuente, Juliana Francis-Kelley, and Sue Jean Kim brought the multi-dimensional world of the play to vibrant life. Special thanks to producer Karen Grenke, stage manager Sunneva Stapleton, assistant stage manager Adam Goldman, assistant to the producer Lacy Post, and assistant director Rachael Hayes for their tireless efforts.
The production was part of the larger Hiroshima Project, which included post-show discussions with artists and historians, screenings of Steven Okazaki's award-winning documentary White Light/Black Rain, and readings of Japanese plays about the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. All of the events took place at the Ohio Theater, and provided further resonance to Miyagawa's poignant new play.