Thursday, August 2, 2012

Travelling Again

I’ve been travelling again. This time I was in Western Massachusetts for a few days. I went to a place you have probably never heard of (or maybe you have, I’m probably late to the party as usual), called Double Edge Theatre. Listen up people, these guys are awesome. You can go to their website and check them out. They have a core company of 10 artists who live and work in this rural town in MA. I hadn’t been there for more than 10 minutes when they told me that this was most definitely not a commune – not in reality and not in spirit – which I found really interesting because of course, before I went there, that’s exactly what I envisioned. Their values encompass rigorous training, a long development period for the work, community, sustainability, and environmentalism, among other things. Their place of work is a farm. They give themselves the extraordinary gift of time and space. I had the treat of seeing a show there, THE ODYSSEY, a spectacle piece that they create using different areas of the farm that they have turned into theatrical spaces. The show embodied all the values of the company, was extremely well done and an absolute delight. They are working on a cycle of pieces based on the work of Marc Chagall and the first one will be ready for viewing in January and guess where its previewing? Yup, right here in the theatre capital of America – at the Dance Center.  Like their previous pieces, this one will tour the country and the world. I was really inspired by the company and their work and it got me thinking about the implications for a company like this in Chicago or in any City. I don’t think it can only be done in a rural setting, although there are certain advantages that cannot be denied. But I started to think about all the blighted neighborhoods in Chicago (Double Edge got the farm cheap because it was a dairy farm and all the dairy farms went out of business and it is in the middle of nowhere) and what if a group of artists got a house or a couple of houses and lived and worked there and built a community around the work. Maybe someone already has. Maybe it’s impractical in Chicago. I wonder if thinking about this model might lead me (or you) to thinking about other models that could be workable. I think the key to this one is that it’s not about audience, it’s first about the work and second about the community and the place of these artists in that community and the world. And, by the way, I think by now every performance this summer is sold out. They are not rich, they need public funding like the rest of us, but it is a somewhat unique model that I thought I would share and I hope it inspires you too.


1 comment:

sp said...

And they'll be in Chicago this year, hosted by Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department!