I hope this email finds you well and in good health. A lot has changed in the world since you last heard from Open Flame. A lot has changed for us as well. First let me say that our deepest condolences go to those who have lost loved ones during this time. We feel the loss and pain of our friends close by and those all over the world. Our thoughts are with you.
The premiere of The Garden has been postponed to June 24-27th, 2021. It will still be at the Southern Theater in Minneapolis, and we are so grateful to them for being willing to adjust our contract and we honor their commitment to our company.
Two months ago, we were preparing for our June 2020 premiere of The Garden at the Southern Theater in Minneapolis. We were deep in work with our designer Elisa Sugar in St. Louis to finish designs for the set and costumes; I was traveling to Detroit for a week once a month (at least!) to work with Ely, my musical collaborator, and Richard Newman, co-director of The Garden and Co-Artistic Director of The Hinterlands. As a performing ensemble, Arlo, Katie, Erica, Sea, myself as well as our Technical Director Clive North and Cellist Oliver Schmit were rehearsing several times a week refining this performance.
A lot has changed since then.
One of the things that makes Open Flame unique (and also puts us squarely in the lineage of our parent theater, Double Edge Theatre) is our focus on the actor. Our ensemble is made and defined by the group of individuals that is in it, and the personal, professional, spiritual, political, and artistic development of the actor is the foundation that our work is based upon. The company exists in large part to serve those of us who hold the container to make the work possible.
Therefore, much of our work together is making time and holding space for the individual to work alone. This individual work takes many forms: research of many kinds, walks in the woods, finding new inspiration and developing our characters for The Garden.
We are also finding creative solutions to being quarantined that are not only keeping us safe but also furthering the work. Some of us have continued using the studio in St. Paul where our rig is currently housed, one at a time and following sanitizing protocols. Not being able to rehearse all together in the same room has been a major struggle. But within that struggle, we have been finding new and surprising ways of relating to one another, inspired by some of our research, for example, Tadeusz Kantor’s The Dead Class. This small object creation has been made possible in no small part thanks to our visiting associate in prop and mask design, Zoe Batson.
What does the future hold?
Katie, Erica, Sea, Arlo and myself are meeting each Sunday to check in, stay connected, and share our individual work explorations from the week. We also watch a filmed live performance together online once a week, pulling from The Global Performance Series blog curated by our friend and colleague at Double Edge, Travis Coe. (Which we highly recommend!)
I have been diving deep into the script/libretto for the performance, and rigorously reinvestigating our dramaturgy with Richard. This has been an immensely fulfilling process as we are creating a narrative story with more detail than has ever been in an Open Flame performance before.
When it is safe to do so we will begin rehearsing in person again, until then we will continue our individual and shared online processes together.
I want to thank all of you who support our work. Our passion for The Garden continues, and we are grateful for the spaciousness to reflect on the work, and reaffirm why we are being called to tell the story of this performance. Our thanks also to everyone who donated to us during our crowdfunding campaign for The Garden, we will be utterly delighted to share it with you when it is safe to do so for us all.
That being said, the work is continuing in this time as we are also taking space to breathe. As we prepare for another year of deepening our investigations and ourselves, you can still support our work, and also want to shout out to another organization who are supporting trans folx during this time:
The Minnesota Transgender Health Coalition is committed to improving health care access and the quality of health care received by trans and gender non-conforming people through education, resources, and advocacy.
And let us leave off with a few words which I hope will bring comfort and inspiration during these dark times:
i am always holy,
and wholly alive
of every day
until my death
and even then
my rotting corpse
and decaying flesh
will be divine
-W. Schweigert, May 2020
In love & solidarity and mud & blood,
Open Flame Theatre