During the 2012-2013 Academic Year, Theater Studies and Theater Emory launched an innovative series of workshops and performances, designed to give artists a space to explore new ideas, and Emory students the opportunity to experience and participate in experimental new work. The Breaking Ground series is a laboratory for students, alumni, faculty, and Atlanta artists to exchange and create exciting new performances.
Projects are often in very early stages of development, and the format is wide open: an excerpt from a play, five minutes of a performance piece, several brief components of an interdisciplinary project, or simply a conversation about a creative idea.
The Breaking Ground series has two iterations: a summer laboratory for invited artists/faculty/students to launch nascent artistic projects during a 1 to 2-week residency and a series during the academic year that occurs in tandem with a one credit-hour undergraduate course, Experiencing New Work. Guest artists visit the Experiencing New Work class for three hours, workshopping their new creative ideas, often with the participation of, and feedback from, the students enrolled in the course.
The workshops and presentations encourage students to articulate what they are seeing and hearing, and to examine the artistic process. What is the experiment? What are the artists trying to develop and how are they going about it? Where did these seeds of ideas originate? How do these artists create a process that will help them to bring the projects forward toward the goal of a completed performance project?
Between Two Alley Walls
Collaborators: Travis Draper, Maya Hubbard, & Kelly Spicer
Between Two Alley Walls follows the story of This and That, two homeless clowns living in the back alley of a Home Depot. Through puppetry, dance, and general tom foolery, the piece seeks to tease apart the influence of language on our perception of homeless communities. Between Two Alley Walls is as much a theatrical performance as it is an art installation piece. As the artists explore topics relating to homeless communities, they also want to explore a more financially feasible mode of theater that retains still elements of surprise and creativity. The set was constructed completely from trash, materials salvaged from trashcans and recycling bins. The clowns live in a giant fort made of cardboard boxes.
Collaborators: Clifford Clark, Caitlin Reeves, Nicholas Surbey, & Emma Yarbrough
Lacuna is an adaptation of David Greig’s The Cosmonaut’s Last Message to the Woman He Once Loved in the Former Soviet Union (1999), a massive transcontinental and interstellar exploration of communication, isolation, and technology anchored in the story of two Soviet-era cosmonauts drifting in Earth’s orbit, forgotten by time and their now-defunct country. Through narrative, poetry, and dance, Lacuna explores the ways in which isolation (physical, mental, emotional) creates an alternative reality removed from time, one that distorts and fragments memories, daily habits, and the significance of rituals.
Human beings doing very strange things in a very strange place for a very long time.