Though it’s been almost a full month since I’ve written a journal entry, we are now 2 weeks away from the world premiere of The Ladies Ring Shout (Aug 4-6, 2011) and I am moved to write about my reflections of this collaborative process.
As a co-founder of both ThickRoutes Performance Collage (TRPC) & Ladies Ring Shout (LRS), I have had the privilege to collaborate/create/perform with amazingly talented women. Over the last 10 years, Abra Johnson & Meida McNeal have been my “stage sisters” as fellow co-founders of both TRPC & LRS. Together, we have conceived & staged several evocative and acclaimed performances of varying lengths; the best way I can describe our creative process is ‘organic systemization’. However with Ladies Ring Shout, we not only crafted a feature-length performance from a quilt of workshop-generated material, we have fostered a community!
For LRS, we’ve been blessed to enlist the design talents of Lindsay Obermeyer, Jeanne Medina and Chris Nightengale. The costume/set/environmental designs of these three artists contribute enormously to the look & feel of The Ladies Ring Shout. The seeds of this design collaboration were planted (appropriately enough) at Jeanne Medina’s New Year’s Eve 2010 dinner party. While catching each other up on our respective goings-on, I told Jeanne about LRS & our Oct 2010 residency at U of NC. In turn, she shared the impetus of her then-newly completed student project at the School of The Art Institute (SAIC). Until that dinner, we hadn’t really known much about each other’s art but we were both energized by the works’ respective parallels and vowed to find an entry point for collaboration. Fast forward a few months to early Spring 2011….
Jeanne attends one of our weekend rehearsals to see a dry run of the show (all 3 acts) & spur set design ideas. Unbeknownst to me at the time, Meida had also consulted with a designer whom she worked with at Chicago Artist Resource (CAR)— enter Lindsay Obermeyer as LRS costume designer. Then during a subsequent rehearsal where both Jeanne & Lindsay were present, we were treated to reunion—-Lindsay had been Jeanne’s first fiber/textile instructor at SAIC & a huge influence in Jeanne’s approach to the medium! Shortly thereafter, Jeanne’s LRS design vision required further collaboration— enter graphic/video artist Chris Nightengale, who’d done previous work with Jeanne. By incorporating found/re-purposed materials in both the costumes & sets, our LRS design team has beautifully aligned their vision with the show’s DIY/’make a way out of no way’ ethos. I am so proud of all of us, coming together how we have, and anxiously await opening night!