2013-2014 – Private homes, Hillyer Art Space at The Capital Fringe Festival, SOAK 2014 at CAVE, The Gershwin Hotel, The Drilling Company, SOAK 2013.
Created during the 2013-2014 LEIMAY Fellowship, CAVE, Brooklyn, NY, and through the generosity of Terra Incognita Theater.
As the juxtapositions in Wistaria emerge, look for the ways in which the light cast by one moment creates a shadow behind another. Somewhere in this interplay of light and shadow, Wistaria points toward important questions and about American history, feminism, dick jokes, slavery, freedom, literature, fart noises, contemporary politics, deviled eggs, and much, much more. -DC Metro Theatre Arts-
Wistaria is a transgressive, extra-theatrical, performance event that appears in peoples’ homes and other unexpected places. It springs from the form of an inclusive prayer meeting, inviting the audience to sing with us as we challenge our historical past and present through a hallucinatory amalgam of seminal U.S. texts, traditional song, and actions both mysterious and banal — and deviled eggs.
Inspired by the traveling-tent theatres in the South and Midwest during the 19th and early 20th centuries, Wistaria is flexible and low-tech, never staying more than a couple of nights in any one place, and adapting to each new environment – rarely a performance venue. It often incorporates new actors, as well as a few audience volunteers – and the audience is given songbooks and invited to join in. Sometimes guest musicians appear.
Ultimately, in form and content, Wistaria searches alternative ways of living in art and society. The team functions more like a band than a theatre company, doing ‘gigs’ more than theatrical ‘runs’. It operates with the least possible budget and least possible focus on finances, to make us reconsider the means of production we have become used to in the Theatre Industry. We blend the content of Wistaria with its production in order to question what alternative ways of living and doing might be possible at this moment — in the microcosm of art and the macrocosm of our society.
Conceived and Directed by Jeremy Goren.
Created by: Stephanie Eiss, Jeremy Goren, Jenna Kirk, Tommy Schell.
Other artists who have performed in Wistaria: Derek Spaldo, Rishika Mehrishi, Casey Lange, Kyra Sims, Lemur Onkyokei, Angeli, Alexandra Zajaczkowski, Laura Bernas, Richard Sheinmel.
Visit the Wistaria website.
Overall, Wistaria is experimental, but the cast is charming and talented, polite enough that with a little encouragement they had the whole audience singing “glory, glory, hallelujah” along with them. If that kind of production isn’t your cup of tea, this isn’t one for beginners — it can be confusing, even uncomfortable, but rewarding, in that it encourages reflection and critical thought about how we each experience our political and cultural identities, whatever they may be. –DC Theatre Scene–
October 19-Novemeber 11, 2012 – West-Park Presbyterian Church, NYC
Created through the AliveWire Theatrics A/M/P Residency and LEIMAY’s Black Studio Share at CAVE in Brooklyn, NY.
“A truly experimental and immersive experience….Avant-garde yet deeply felt.” (Editor Pick) Flavorpill
Drawing on material as diverse as Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, medieval pageant plays, ’90s suburbia, My So-Called Life, and the performers’ own stories, You Will Make A Difference explores its cultural moment – and matters of the USA’s adolescents and its adolescence. An ensemble leads its audience through various installed environments on several floors of the beautiful West-Park Presbyterian Church. Formed over an atypical, six-month process, this collaboratively devised performance invites the audience on a journey to discover where they really are. The communal ending of You Will Make A Difference included a small, shared meal prepared by Artist/Chef Anne Apparu, along with dancing led by fidder by Sarah Alden. Apparu created full meals as part of extended performances on October 20 and November 11.
The ensemble: Stephanie Eiss, Tara Elliott, Jeff Kitrosser, Nicki Kontolefa, Laura Riveros, Derek Spaldo and Martha Frances Liv Williams, with the participation of Samantha Cole, Rishika Mehrishi, and Ben Lambert.
The creative and production team: Chana Porter (Producer), Eric Borlaug (Producer), Scott Rodrigue (Production Manager), Sandy Yaklin (Set Design), Jess Greenberg (Lighting Design), Bridget Durkin (Video Editor & Production Associate) and Shelley Molad (Assistant Director & Stage Manager).
“[An] unconventional, refreshing theatrical experience…. an art happening in which one enters into a brave, passionate, stimulating world that forces the viewer to contemplate who they are in relation to others.” –NYTheatre.com