Thursday, September 23, 2010

Place Project #1 lab- "stuff"

We are beginning with stuff. I think there is quite a bit to explore about our attachment to stuff. We are beginning with simple exercises. Finding ways to look at stuff differently.

I am copying my notes here. We managed to do it all.

Place Project

Lab #1 Stuff (Attachment)

To Do Today:

Notes to group: What it is we are doing. We will take our time. Be patient. We have time. We have some tasks, some activities to activate the story. Remember, this is a beginning. Don’t want for more than simple discoveries, just stay interested in the data, the bits that surface. Acknowledge their significance. And remember their significance for later.

Stuff we should do tonight:

· Viewpoint

· Read surveys to each other- questions: are there similarities? Discuss possible archetypes, threads, and consistencies. What is similar? What is different?

· the conventions of film (pan out, long shot, close up, track, slow motion, lights on/off to tell the story of the object.


1. Pick an object. What about this object is so great? Pick a reason it is great. Tell me why a person could be become attached to such a thing. Now find a personal reason for becoming attached to it and become attached to it. How did you acquire it?

2. Pick one person’s object and story. Make us a composition based on one object.

Title of Show: The Eyeglasses Show

Part 1- the meeting!

Part 2- something happens

Part 3- loss

Part 4 the reunion

· Harangue (group encouragement- total commitment)- loss of stuff- loss of place –tape, your object. Other objects. True stories are better.

Stuff Story Perform for me a story with your stuff. Make a play using things. MAke a language out of stuff. Like puppets or dolls or installation art. Show me a story using stuff only. Keep it in four parts. Title each part. Make every moment matter.

Monday, September 6, 2010

work in process #1 (Place)

The humble tenacity of things

waiting for people, waiting for months, for years

--From an Old House in America by Adrienne Rich

I went to Picher, OK with Toby and Christy yesterday. We have started our first WIP, the Place Project. That is the generic name for now. We are at the edge of beginning to understand what it is exactly that we are recording, gathering, observing. Not knowing yet what the story is, we are simply putting ourselves in a place where there are stories of home and family and the stuff our lives are built from. And of course, that is every place, for most of the spaces of the world are occupied by people- and people are the keeper of stories. I wonder if people leave places, do their stories stay and haunt the structures of their old lives? Does the story linger, like a ghost will hang around the bones of a body that used to belong to her? Do stories leave behind residue? Lives certainly do.

Picher is a ghost town now. All that is left is the lingering stuff. Ordinary objects, inconsequential things, left behind in the living rooms and bedrooms of people who did not take everything with them when they fled.

But it used to be a place of prosperity and promise. A real American Place.

Picher was a boomtown, a place that was born literally overnight due to the discovery of lead and zinc ore in 1913. The Picher area became the most productive lead-zinc mining field in the Tri-State district producing over $20 billion worth of ore between 1917 and 1947. More than fifty percent of the lead and zinc metal used during World War I were produced by the Picher district. At its peak over 14,000 miners worked the mines and another 4,000 worked in mining services.

The resources depleted, the mining ceased in 1967, and the water pumping from the mines stopped. The contaminated water from some 14,000 abandoned mine shafts, 70 million tons of mine tailings, and 36 million tons of mill sand and sludge remained as a huge environmental cleanup problem. The area became part of the Tar Creek Superfund site. (Wikipedia)

Picher, OK has been called the most toxic place in America. The people were forced to leave their homes because of the health concerns. And for those families that held on tightly to their legacy’s architecture and did not accept the government buyout- they fled after the F5 tornado came through and destroyed what was left of the town.

The city's post office was scheduled to close in July 2009 and the city ceased operations as a municipality on September 1, 2009.

We get the feeling there is a lot of story there. Perhaps a big American story.

Before we look closer at the Superfund and toxicity, the failure of systems that were created to protect and support us, we simply want to witness the place. The ghost of home.

And we are developing a show about it. Perhaps. We will keep you posted.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Next Big Thing

The Artist's Laboratory Theatre is going to New Orleans! We were invited to present "Bombs, Babes, and Bingo" in The New Orleans Fringe Festival November 17th thru 21st. And we are thrilled. We are bringing the playwright, Merri Biechler, back to Fayetteville so that we may pick up where we left off in the workshop! Joseph Fletcher will come back from New York and re-stage the show for us. Alan, our designer and co-artistic director, is dreaming up a set that can travel and set up easily. Our goal is to remount the show before we take it the festival- once in Fayetteville, next in Oklahoma City, and then hit the road for New Orleans!

But that all costs money, so it is back to square one! We are planning some pretty cool fundraisers. We also applied for fiscal sponsorship, so hopefully we can receive tax exempt donations as well! The money part is the least fun part of doing the art, but it can't happen without it. If anyone has any advice on how to create a FUNdraiser, let us know.