2020 Performance Project Showcase Performances and Partnership with NHTP
I. 2020 Performance Project Showcase Performances
Last weekend our Performance Project teens performed their original adaptation of The Madwoman of Chaillot to two sold out crowds. The Madwoman tells of an eccentric woman and her friends, and the actions they take to circumvent destruction by corrupt businessmen scheming to drill for oil beneath a Parisian cafe. Our teens read the original play by Jean Giraudoux and chose to explore the following themes in their own version: greed and selfishness, imagination, construction of reality, and the power of community. Our play was both a satire and a comedy, and elicited lots of laughter from both audiences.
Catherine Stewart directed our adaptation, which featured challenging blocking, robust characters, and dual roles in which one character played several parts. Choreographer, Sarah Duclos, worked with our teens to craft a complicated yet amusing mazurka dance, which featured cardboard limos and taxis (and yes- those cars idled!). Visual artist, Sam Paolini, worked with design teens to create brick backdrops and scenery pieces that could be interchanged quickly with set changes.
Prior to each performance, theatre technician and yoga instructor, Meghann Beauchamp, taught us healthy stress management techniques via breathwork, mudras, and mantras. The sessions with Meghann left our group feeling calm, confident, and ready. Just before showtime, our teens were spotted using these techniques together, affirming the supportive community we established in this program.
We would like to congratulate our 2020 Performance Project teens on their wonderful adaptation of such a complex text!
II. Partnership with NHTP
This year’s Performance Project was held at New Hampshire Theatre Project (NHTP), a black box theatre in Portsmouth, NH. There are many benefits to partnering with a professional performance venue: access to a myriad of costume pieces and props, professional lighting, sound equipment, and exposure to theatre professionals. For this program, our partnership with NHTP provided Performance Project teens with the opportunity to attend open dress rehearsals for three professional productions. The three plays – Pride & Prejudice, It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, and Sherwood – were diverse and showed our teens different approaches to theatre-making and ways to use the space.
Following two of the open dress rehearsals, our teens had a Q&A with the actors, director, costume designer, and sound designer. These sessions provided insight on how to juggle theatre work with other professional and life obligations, advice for script memorization, and how to seamlessly switch between multiple characters. The imprint of these open dress rehearsals was evident in the teens’ adaptation process and final performances.
AIR would like to thank NHTP for sharing their space with us and for providing memorable experiences for our teens!