Thursday, October 10, 2013

Meet our 2013-14 R&D Group

Here's a post from our R&D Group Coordinator, EllaRose Chary introducing the new 2013-14 R&D Group. 

The Civilians 2013-14 R and D Group is up and running. We have our largest group ever this year, and the lines between the traditional roles of writer and director have started to blur with this unique group. In previous years, most of our writers and directors have come to the group separately, getting paired up for the reading series later in the season. This year, half of our projects are being created by collaborative teams of writers, directors and project creators from day one.

This year’s artists are a mix of familiar Civilians faces and new folks we’re excited to get to know. Associate Artist Robbie Sublett joins the group as a writer with his interview based project East 4th Street, which looks into a mysterious death in the small Texas town he was raised in. Director/choreographer Sam Pinkleton joins the group fresh off of choreographing The Civilians commissioned hit MR. BURNS at Playwrights Horizons. He is teaming up with writer Maggie-Kate Coleman and composer Erato A. Kremmyda to develop a multidisciplinary musical theater project anchored by the character of Marie Curie that explores the forces of radiation and love. Writer Sean E. Cunningham, a collaborator of Civilians Associate Artist and founding member Michael Friedman, is going to be working on a new play that investigates how Peruvian companies are attempting popularize the liquor pisco in the United States market. Tommy Smith, who has worked with Artistic Director Steve Cosson in the past, comes to the group with his collaborator, director Teddy Bergman. They will be working on a piece about NFL players who move from being sportsmen to criminals, and the possible connections between them. Mary Kathryn Nagle will be working on a play about climate change and community (a favorite Civilians topic), and Riti Sachdeva will be looking into the ways that racism, misogyny, economics and violence trigger symptoms and effect recovery of mental disorders.

We’re also excited about the R and D group’s first foray into more experimental projects with the inclusion of interdisciplinary artist Jeanine Oleson, who will be working on a performance and exhibition about connoisseurship in a neoliberal culture increasingly alienated from affective enthusiasm. Experimental theater artists Juliana Francis-Kelly and Tony Torn also join the group to work on a more traditionally structured theater  piece called THE REENACTORS that is a darkly comic exploration of stories in art – who gets to tell them? Why are they important? How do they get told?

We have 3 additional directors joining the group, who will attend meetings and participate in the dramaturgical process for all of the pieces. They each will direct one of the projects in the reading series in May. Morgan Gould, Melissa Crespo, and Michael Liebenluft all come to us with varied experience with and training in investigative theater. However, their work shares the common themes of questioning and collaboration that are vital to Civilians’ style projects. We know that they will be dynamic and instructive voices in the room over the next year.

As Steve and I went through the nearly 150 R and D Group applications this year, we were struck by the variety and creativity of the proposals. Within this spectrum of ideas, we found a theme emerging between the projects that we were drawn to. These 8 pieces, while vast in scope and diverse in investigative method, are linked in that they each ask fundamental questions about the relationship between politics and the arts. Whether it’s directly questioning this relationship, making art rooted in political questions, or examining the machinations behind drinking culture and professional sports, all of these projects advance theater as an engine of artistic and social innovation.

I can’t wait to see how our talented artists tackle this complex and exciting subject matter over the next nine months. Keep an eye on the Civilians blog for our monthly R and D posts where you’ll get to hear directly from the writers about their projects and other investigations they’re working on. Also, check out their full bios and project descriptions HERE

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