Voice & Vision's ENVISION 2009 Retreat at Bard College spilled over with exciting new projects. A tremendous influx of creative talent assured busy days creating exhilarating work. The scope of the projects was vast, ranging from Blood Dazzler’s poetic, dance-based exploration of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, to Wetback’s collision of personal and political at the Mexican-American border, to NAATCO’s vaudevillian re-envisioning of Chekhov’s The Seagull, among several others.
In her play Emily's Will, writer-in-residence Maxine Kern explored the life of Canadian painter Emily Carr and what it meant to be an independent woman artist in the late nineteenth century. The trials faced by Carr and others resonates with the V&V community, who focus on promoting high-quality performances created by women.
Another effort toward that end, V&V was proud to support the Women’s Project Playwriting Lab at the Retreat. Two particularly memorable readings were Christine Evans' musings on the interplay between humanity and technology, and Crystal Skillman’s For Our Mothers & Fathers, written for and about three teenage girls at a rock music camp.
Playwright Shannon Woolleyand director Daniela Varon developed a piece that has been in the works for more than a decade. Based on actual events, Love and Work dissects the deeply disturbing relationship between a psychiatrist and her patient.
Radha Blank developed and performed her piece Happy.Flower.Nail, a one-woman show about a Korean-owned nail salon in New York City. In collaboration with director Kamilah Forbes, she peels back layer after layer of neighborhood, gentrification and ethnic stereotyping.
Paloma McGregor and Patricia McGregor, Core Artists for Blood Dazzler, brought their inexhaustible troupe of dancers and performers to into their moving, evocative piece about Hurricane Katrina inspired by the poetry of Patricia Smith.
Writer Elaine Romero and directorSamantha Wyer brought us a talented and gracious team of actors for Wetback, which encounters racism and border politics--painful issues that must be recognized and addressed in our national consciousness.
Director Gia Forakis, along with Mia Katigbak, producer of the National Asian American Theatre Company (NAATCO), and actor Peter Kim delved into The Seagull, a production later billed as “not your grandmother’s” Chekhov. The team explored Chekhov's classic in the style of vaudeville, illuminating the bald, energetic humor in a play Chekhov referred to as a comedy, but has come down to us a tragedy.
Producer Abigail Katz headed up an essential staff of Retreat alumni, including office manager Nora DeVeau-Rosen, technical director Aryana Law, stage manager Lily Perlmutter and company manager Matthew Waldron. Dramaturg Wendy Weckwerth played a pivotal role in the success of the Retreat. Our ever-valuable interns Marissa Friedman, Nick Friedman, Rachel Marks and Kevin Williams cannot be thanked enough.
No less important were the culinary talents of chef Christopher James and sous chef Noah Obadashian; the Retreat would not have been complete without their delicious meals. Thanks to videographers Quinn Fegan and Jarod Shannon for documenting life at the Retreat. And special thanks to Sahar Javedani for teaching everyone how to be a yogi and a bellydancer at the same time.
Thanks to everyone who participated - artists, audience, staff, interns - for making the 2009 ENVISION Retreat a success.