a season devoted to “Stories of Illness and Healing”
FRIDAY-SUNDAY, JULY 6 – 8
by Lenelle Moise, performed by Serious Play!
directed by Sheryl Stoodley, designed by Kathy Couch & Robin Doty
with Linda Putnam as Gregora/Mother
and Steve Bailey, Billy Girand, Jeannine Haas, Glenn Love, Alberto Peart, Alexis Reid
In this darkly ironic and comic adaptation of Kafka’s masterpiece of isolation and human cruelty “Metamorphosis,” award-winning, Hatian-American slam poet/playwright Lenelle Moise, reworks Kafka’s Gregor into Gregora, a critically ill, menopausal mother who has supported her family by working in the sex industry. By depicting her ”change of life” as her transformation into insect, the Serious Play Ensemble dissects the social constructs that compromise humanity, family bonds, and the loss of physical autonomy that occurs as we age and confront the possibility of illness and even death.
SUNDAY, July 15
by Aristophanes, performed by the Mettawee River Company
under the direction of Ralph Lee
Our annual favorites with a contemporary adaptation of Aristophanes’ comedy PEACE that tells of a mortal who journeys on the back of a dung beetle to Mt Olympus to complain to the gods about the situation on earth, only to learn that the gods have fled, leaving War and Greed in charge and Peace buried under a trash heap. In the end, Peace is rescued and an extended celebration begins. This all-ages event is performed outdoors with live music, masks and giant puppets.
Performed on the Amherst College Observatory Lawn off of Snell Street. Bring blankets, lawn chairs and insect repellant, but leave the dogs at home!
The production will be ASL Interpreted by Joan Wattman.
FRIDAY – SUNDAY, JULY 20 – 22
THE MAMMY PROJECT
created and performed by Michelle Matlock
co-developed with Joan Evans, directed by Amy Gordon, lighting by Sabrina Hamilton
Writer/performer Michelle Matlock uses original music, storytelling, multimedia documentary materials and her considerable comedic skills to explore the influence that the “Mammy” icon has had on contemporary American culture by re-imagining the cultural traditions from which the image was born — slavery, minstrelsy and advertising. The piece unpacks the little-known history of Nancy Green, the first African-American woman hired to play the part of “Aunt Jemima’ at the 1893 World’s Fair, and in so doing transforms an oppressive stereotype of African-American womanhood into a celebration of the power to be gained from knowing and understanding history
FRIDAY – SUNDAY, JULY 27 – 29 at 8 p.m.
O YES I WILL (I will remember the spirit and texture of this conversation)
written and performed by Deb Margolin
direction and dramaturgy by Merri Milwe, lighting by Sabrina Hamilton
How much do we say when we speak? Yet what if we speak truth and aren’t there to hear it? In OBIE Award-winning playwright/performer Deb Margolin’s new piece a woman is amazed to learn that just prior to going under for surgery, she talked, talked and talked for 12 straight minutes without stopping! This unmediated aria performed before a bunch of men in scrubs with knives was known to them but unknown to her. Was it love she talked about? Politics? Sex? Conspiracy theory? Evasion? Ontology? Requests for a ménage à trois, quatre or cinq? What kinds of things do you say when your body and mind are engaged but not married? This comic tour-de-force for one actor is a kind of Scherezade for the surgery-bound, and offers five radically different possibilities of what she might have said outside the realm of conscious volition. In doing so, she explores the essential nature of language itself, the indomitable human spirit in the face of adversity, what it means to live in a woman’s body, and the role of theatre and imagination in our lives. Diagnosed with lymphoma ten years ago, Margolin has processing it, as with every significant event in her life, by writing and creating performance. In her work, the personal is always both the political and the poetic.
SUMMER WORKSHOPS 2007
BEYOND THE BARS: making theatre with incarcerated people and the recently released
July 2 – 7
with Julie Lichtenberg
Learn the unique process the Performance Project has developed over the past 12 years in its work inside and outside of prison settings that gives voice to identity and culture as it catalyses and supports change and transformation through self-reflection and the creation of artistically compelling work. The workshop will particularly address the role of the “outside” artist in the creation of performances that are opportunities for dialogue and relationship between performers and audience.
The Performance Project focus is on giving voice to identity and culture through self-reflection, catalyzing and supporting change and transformation, building a strong relationship among group members, and creating artistically strong work. Our workshops establish a creative and personal space within a jail or workshop setting. The Performance Project model of developing artistic work has five phases. 1) a workshop; 2) project development; 3) rehearsals; 4) production and performances; and, 5) evaluation.
The exercises will invoke a spirit of playfulness, creativity, and collaboration, and explore improvisational structures in theater and movement. Techniques for script development processes will include storytelling and writing exercises designed to give voice to identity and culture will be explored as well as exercises that the students invent themselves.
July 9 – 14
with Julie Nelson
The exploration of Theatrical Clown plays a vital role in actor training. In this workshop, actors will enter the world of clown and get to know its topography. For example, adventurous physicality is a way of life here. Words are used sparsely and never squandered. The impulse bypasses the brain and gets right to work in the body. The presence of the performer is heightened by the immediate connection and volatile relationship between clown and audience.
Through a progression of exercises and structured improvisations, the actor will recognize and develop his/her nascent clown character. In the process, s/he will uncover and highlight habits and foibles that, until now, s/he wanted to ignore, hide or banish. They turn out to be crucial and delightful building blocks for the clown.
As with any theater ensemble, good will and a collaborative spirit are essential in creating an atmosphere in which all can take big risks.
BREATH, VOICE AND THE PERFORMATIVE SELF: from inner experience to outer expression
July 16 – 21
with Leeny Sack, Laurie McCants
A single cycle of breath and you’ve already been in relation: impressed through the inbreath, expressed through the outbreath. And you’ve shared air.
“Hmmm”, you might say, and you’ve also, perhaps unknowingly, just toned ancient sacred sounds, and voiced a sound you’ve seen in comic books. Hmmm …
A voice is like a fingerprint. Unique. Identifiable. Only yours.
It is vibratory imprint. It is a form of touch. “Speech,” says Dr. Oliver Sacks, “consists of UTTERANCE – an uttering forth of one’s whole meaning with one’s whole being”.
If you said, “hmmm” aloud, did you “utter” it? What did you mean by it? Was it loud? Barely audible? A single pitch? Several? Was there wonder in your voice? Disdain? Was there a frog in your throat, or a family member, whose voice seemed to come through you? Did you feel the sound in your body? Did you “utter” it?
This series combines guided, experiential practices for expanding internal awareness with exercises for reeducating and unifying the body/mind through breath and sound.
Elements of the following will be included:
- breath awareness
- breath, voice and the diaphragm
- vowels and subtle energy centers (chakras)
- consonants as frame and punctuation
- embodying communication
- softening psychophysical constraints
- working with self-consciousness and fear
- working with evocative and provocative texts
- simple presence
Open to students of all levels.
July 23 – 28
with Michelle Matlock
This workshop will focus on how to develop and perform a solo show. Starting with what motivates you!
Through theater games for the solo actor we will explore the “right now” and “doing, not thinking.” Clown techniques will be introduced to uncover the unique, connected and visible performer. We will then move into building your character/characters from a physical point of view. Storytelling will figure heavily in the work as you begin to discover and structure your own solo performance material.
Participants are asked to please come in with an idea. It can be anything, a poem, a prop, a gesture, a monologue, a word. Anything.
CREATING STAGE TEXTS FOR OUR TIMES
July 30 – August 4
with Ruth Margraff
How does the play you are writing (or want to write) measure up against the world right now? How can we write beyond America’s own backyards? Is there a way to write your story from a more world-driven centrifuge? How can we write more colossal characters? What are the politics of empathy and travel? In our highly intuitive laboratory, we’ll do writing exercises designed to get your play in motion, expand the horizon of your stage and to stir up interdisciplinary passions.
Open to writers and would-be writers from all genres of playwriting, screenwriting, fiction, music-theater, poetry, solo performance, etc.