Atlanta—In describing her creative process writing “Frankenstein,” Mary Shelley referred to the story as the “spectre which had haunted my midnight pillow.” Theater Emory’s “Midnight Pillow,” running September 21 through October 1, brings thirteen women and transgender writers together to explore Shelley’s enigmatic depiction of the artistic method in a collaborative work created and directed by Emory alumna Park Krausen.
“Midnight Pillow,” invites audiences into the bedroom as eight performers bring to life the linked writings of Fanny Britt, Shelia Callaghan, Andrea Cohen, Léonore Confino, Lauren Gunderson, Maria Headley, Cristin König, Nathalie Mason Fleury, Scott Turner Schofield, Awoye Timpo, Naomi Wallace, Madhuri Shekar and Marisa Wegrzyn. This is the first production in Theater Emory’s 2017-2018 season that in part responds to the 200th anniversary of “Frankenstein.”
Krausen, the driving force behind the project, commissioned writers from all over the world to construct monologues, scenes and short plays that consider the questions “What happens when you are in the act of birthing or creating? What happens when you refuse to create? What keeps you up at night or rumbles in that liminal space between dreams and consciousness? What happens when your creation betrays you or you it?”
“I create dialogue between divergent art forms and take the opportunity to invite everyone to play—the often represented and often underrepresented,” says Krausen about her creative process. After a decade serving as producing artistic director of Théâtre du Rêve, she describes her relatively new life as a theater director and the opportunity to work with Theater Emory as “daunting and exciting.”
“I am thrilled to be returning to my alma mater where the idea of experiential learning, the exchange between students and professionals, is paramount.”
Theater Emory presents “Midnight Pillow” September 21-23, 27-30 at 7:30 p.m.; September 24 and October 1 at 2 p.m in the Theater Lab of the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts. Tickets are $18 general admission, $14 discount category members, $12 industry and non-Emory students, $6 Emory students and are available through the Arts at Emory Box Office online or at 404-727-5050. For additional information on Theater Emory’s 2017-2018 season, visit theater.emory.edu.
Theater Emory, the professional company in residence at Emory University, produces a wide range of drama, from classics to new works. Liberal arts undergraduates work with professional directors, actors, designers, playwrights, dramaturgs, choreographers, composers, music directors and stage managers.
In 1938, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart premiered a musical adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors,” the first American musical comedy based on a Shakespeare play. This raucous farce,Rodgers and Hart’s “The Boys from Syracuse,” kicks of Theater Emory’s season-long celebration of the Bard September 22 – October 2 in the Theater Lab of the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts.
“When we heard that the First Folio would be coming to Emory, we decided to focus our season on Shakespeare’s work,” explains artistic director Janice Akers. “We saw this as an opportunity to put our distinctive stamp on the Shakespeare celebration and include a variety of voices, cultures, performance styles, and new work.”
This is the Place Where Your Body Belongs: Performing Home
A workshop led by Joanna Russo and Phil Cramer of NEW NOISE, a critically acclaimed New Orleans theater ensemble currently in residence at Serenbe. Introduction by Malina Rodriguez, Theater Emory’s Technical Theater Coordinator and Co-Founder of The Lucky Penny.
Theater Emory recently teamed up with The Lucky Penny to present a physical theater workshop to the local community. This is the Place Where Your Body Belongs: Performing Home
with NEW NOISE of New Orleans, explored some of the methods that NEW NOISE uses in devising original multi-disciplinary work. Through the medium of performance, participants asked themselves and each other one of the questions at the heart of NEW NOISE’s show Oxblood: Is there a place where your body belongs?
NEW NOISE’s Oxblood is currently being developed and presented in the Atlanta metro area as part of a 2016 Project Residency with AIR Serenbe. See it in performance July 22-24, 2016 at 6pm, at Deer Hollow at Serenbe.
We asked for feedback from two of the workshop participants who are rising seniors at Emory. Here’s how they described their experience:
I wasn’t too sure what to expect, I wasn’t completely sure what I signed up for, and I definitely wasn’t sure how physical my body could get, but come Saturday July 15th, I was set to take part in a two-hour physical theater workshop led by the innovative NEW NOISE of Louisiana.
I was pretty nervous as I rushed in chomping my last couple bites of lunch. The workshop began with a physical warmup reminiscent of Gaga dancing, then swiftly transitioned in to a non-stop workshop that would have moments introducing completely in-body theatrical techniques, then moments that were a physical fruition of subconscious writing on deep thought questions such as “Where is home?” and “Where does your body belong?”
Throughout the workshop, a heart of collaboration between the various disciplines of performance art was extremely clear. Being a true and blue liberal arts student who loves blurring the lines in which we confine the different medias of art, this was my jam and butter! The room was filled with artists with various backgrounds from dance to theater and spoken word artist to those who speak solely with their bodies. We would work in teams combining these backgrounds to improvised skits that blended into improvised movements that blended into improvised writing, allowing me to see the variety of natural performance from the artists in the room. As a student with a background in stage acting, I soaked in all the various media and artist’s techniques that pushed my ideas of what theatrical performance could be.
The two hours went by in a blur, I honestly left wishing we had a full day to play! Alas, I will have to suffice by further supporting the NEW NOISE troupe in their performance of Oxblood at Serenbe this weekend, July 22nd-24th! I am extremely thankful for being able to take part in their workshop and would love to see more!
Dalyla McGee Class of 2017 Anthropology and Human Biology Major Theater Studies Minor
The NEW NOISE Workshop was, at first, simultaneously very new and familiar territory to me. As a dancer, I often do not use my voice as a vehicle of expression in performance. My instinct is my body. So, naturally, I was slightly anxious about an experimental theater workshop. With Joanna’s encouraging and clear direction, that anxiety melted away as the layers of physical mediums in art began to overlap. The intrinsic similarities between art forms opened up an endless universe of loosened possibilities; no right, no wrong, just speak with your body, speak with your voice. Prompts for creative writing exercises like “describe home to you” or “where does your body belong?” lent themselves to deep-seeded realities brought to light in a myriad of qualities: playful, dark, poignant, tense, sexy, cheerful, surprising or hilarious movement phrases, to name a few. These movement phrases, supported by a vocalization and embodiment of the words written, emphasized that the mover, the speaker, and the creator are one and the same to me. It was a very powerful experience that I am very thankful to have had! Not to mention the fresh opportunity to embody an exhausted book, a creeping chicken, and a devouring automatic vacuum cleaner…
Clara Schulstad Guyton
Class of 2017 Dance and Movement Studies Major English Major
The 2016 Atlanta Fringe Festival returned June 9 – 12 in various venues in and around Atlanta’s Inman Park neighborhood. During this year’s festival, a group of Theater at Emory students and alums (members of Corpulent Porpoise Productions) mounted Ember, a new play by playwriting major Max McCreary. Below, members of the production recount their experience taking part in Atlanta’s annual festival of edgy, new work.
The 2016 Atlanta Fringe Festival was my first Fringe festival as a performer. Working with a group of students all studying at Theater Emory, we enjoyed an easy rehearsal chemistry, since we all spoke the same language and knew the same shorthand. This certainly streamlined our brief rehearsal process, since we only met about eight times. Going into the piece, none of us knew much about Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) nor could we ask our playwright for frequent clarifications on the script, as he was occupied elsewhere. Therefore, with Adam Friedman at the helm, we were given liberty to explore our own blocking and pacing, to determine dramatically how symptoms of DID might manifest. I believe a major take-away from our production, certainly something to enrich the playwright’s future drafts, was our discovery of how ineffectual immobility can be in a drama of language. After weeks of deliberation, our director made the call to mobilize the alternate identities, opening up a fruitful discussion about cognitive movement as well as providing a wealth of acting opportunities. Rehearsal and development was both satisfying and very entertaining, but the major draw of Fringe Festival for the artists has to be the unlimited, free access to all other fringe shows during the festival. While I hope our work will help the playwright better his play and provide the director with future insights, I gathered my pearls out in the audience. – Travis Draper, Class of 2015
The Atlanta Fringe Festival was a wonderful opportunity in a community venue that provided a great atmosphere for the performances. Our rehearsal process was concentrated on realizing the script written by our student author; giving him a reading with staging to further his work. Because of this, we communicated closely with Max McCreary about what experiments in rehearsal would be the most helpful as he continued to develop this work. Though our venue lacked AC, our performances were smooth to run with good audiences as well. Fringe is certainly a piece of work, but the commitment to make something unique, new, and worthwhile makes the festival a really fun workspace. – Ginny Loeffler, Class of 2017
Working on the Atlanta Fringe Festival was an experience I’ll always be grateful for. I had a stellar time with my ensemble trying to put on a fellow student’s play. We started with just regular rehearsals and as the date got closer we began to do previews with the festival. These were great because I got to see some of what the other companies were working on and I got to meet a lot of cool talented people. I even ran into an old friend of mine! We got artist passes so I was able to see some of the other shows which were all really good. It was a really great professional experience that I think all students should do and can do with ease and I would highly recommend and do again! – Wala Hassan, Class of 2017
Being able to participate in the Atlanta Fringe Festival was a really cool experience. Before Fringe I never tapped into the vast extent of artistic opportunities happening in Atlanta and the festival really helped open my eyes to that. It was awesome being welcomed into a community of artists who are encouraging, supportive, and love what they’re doing. We got to see a few of the extremely talented performers for free, which was awesome and much appreciated. Also, being able to work with such good friends throughout the whole process, from playwright to director to actors, really made the experience as dope as it could possibly be. – Charis Wiltshire, Class of 2018
This year has been one of firsts for me, and it is only fitting that my first year at Emory is punctuated with my experience at Atlanta Fringe. My imagination, for a long time, has been excited by scenes of people blocking freshly-written scripts in plainclothes, in rehearsal halls long after the sun has set, creating, with force and determination, artful theater, bringing it, so to speak, from thin air. Theater-making, in my mind, is synonymous with tension and release, roughness and vigor and vitality, and these words come to mind as I reflect on the experience I had helping bring Ember to the Fringe stage. I feel immensely honored to have been trusted with Ember, and I’m thankful to have been brought into the project. My familiarity with my cast mates, the director, and the writer brought a palpable chemistry to the project. I trusted all of them, and that was ultimately empowering. To work with a script that was energetically new and unvarnished in places, finding the inspirations and forces my friend had written, and watching my cast mates extract it all before my eyes was a compelling thing to behold.
The festival itself was a whole other experience, an exhilarating one. The works I watched ranged from rowdy and comedic to deeply written drama, and they all impressed me by their sense of inspiration, each piece had something ingeniously unique about it that imbued the festival with an air of electric novelty. Watching fresh and new pieces, knowing I was with a company and cast that had new work of their own to offer, brought to life an experience I had only been able to imagine. It drove home an idea that art doesn’t just happen in a vacuum, that we find ourselves as a community of theatre-makers, not insular productions. Everything about the experience was real and untethered, and deeply unforgettable. – Josh Oberlander, Class of 2019
The Atlanta Fringe Festival was my first experience directing a professional production, which brought a whole load of lessons with it. The process was much more streamlined than a production, and rehearsals were a bit sparser, as we were working around everyone’s working schedule. However, this was balanced out by the fact that we were all used to working with each other from previous productions and classes. Another lesson learned was how much can be left open and up to interpretation when developing new work. This is both good and bad, as it provides unique opportunities to shape an audience’s interpretation of the work, while also posing unique challenges as how to best portray the writer’s intents.
The festival itself was an incredible experience. From kickoff to closing, it was filled with an infectious energy from performers and organizers alike. The festival’s organizers did an excellent job of providing the artists with opportunities to promote their work through a night of previews, as well as individualized previews throughout the weekend. In addition, all of the artists were put together in a room, giving us the chance to connect with each other and learn about all the shows that were going on. I think that may have ultimately been what was the most valuable part of the experience – meeting and connecting with so many exciting artists in the Atlanta area. – Adam Friedman, Class of 2018
East West Players has found its new artistic director from within its own ranks and announced that Emory alum, Snehal Desai, will succeed outgoing producing artistic directory Tim Dang, who has led the downtown Los Angeles theater company since 1993.
Snehal last worked with Theater Emory during the 2015 Global Voices reading series, as director and playwright.
Listen to an interview between Lois Reitzes and the directors in the City Lights Podcast. (Interview begins at 15:21)
This year, Shakespeare’s 400th birthday is being celebrated across the globe.
For the occasion, Theater Emory has created several programs over the year dedicated to Shakespeare – and this week, they are doing a grand experiment. Professor Jan Akers is directing an all-female cast of “As You Like It,” and professor Tim McDonough is directing an all-male cast of the same play.
“So we were interested without any particular agenda about the gender differences to see how the plays would speak differently to audiences given an all-male cast and an all-female cast,” explained McDonough in an interview with Lois Reitzes.