Tom Minter's Off The Stoop Blog

a playwright's journey, creating, connecting, and conversing.

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..moments of Billie

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..so many changes in 2015; too many. Each, significant.

..but all are part of a fabric of affirmation: these lights mattered; these stories continue; the wit and spark and warmth of easing folks forward remains the ripple  they wished for us to ride.. till, thereby, we leave our own.

Many stories to share will come in reflection of time spent in her company, but, for the moment ..a few moments of Billie Allen-Henderson, theatre godmother, mentor, comrade, insouciant bon vivant, sassy witness, and edifying headlight..

 

Billie! at Cakewalk premiere, Philly 2006

Billie! at CAKEWALK premiere, Philly 2006

 

Billie on Billie – reminiscing..

Tom & Billie Allen-Henderson/BLUES premiere, at the Duke Ellington School, DC, 2014

Billie Allen-Henderson (and me)/BLUES premiere, at the Duke Ellington School, DC, 2014

 

Billie speaks of Marian Anderson.. 

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Written by tomminteroffthestoop

January 4, 2016 at 9:24 AM

Cedar Hill

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..it was in 2010 when I was first at Cedar Hill having created an enrichment program for Washington National Opera, in collaboration with DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities. That presentation was called Black Women In Opera Celebrate Black Women In Community.

On October 24 2015 there is to be another gathering at Cedar Hill, with new partners and ongoing collaborators. This event is an original enrichment for Stanford in Washington, and is being shared as programming enrichment with Stanford in New York; to be creating for these two constituencies of students is a marvel for me, as well as an incredible opportunity for facilitating connection to DC history, as well as threads of a national, historical narrative, through the life of the last resident owner of Cedar Hill, Frederick Douglass.

Several skeins of education weave through this event, by way of Douglass.

In November 2015 WNO is mounting a production of Philip Glass’ opera Appomattox. Though its initial incarnation was premiered in 2007 with the San Francisco Opera, there was work to be done on the piece and the Washington National Opera commissioned Glass to re-visit it. It is this reimagined creation which will receive its premiere in DC.

With this unique event I found myself in a position to pull several threads of opportunity into one tapestry; SIW has kept to a track of offering enrichment programming on issues and paradigms of diversity. In seeking to further expand their students’ view into contextualizing conversations on race, civil liberty, and our nation’s gripping tatter, into the harrowing march of civil war, the fact of the opera and the site of Cedar Hill became cause of a mutual exposition.

Cedar Hill was Frederick Douglass’ house and acknowledged home from 1877 to 1895. Here he would often have evenings of song performed in his parlor with the windows opened wide, so that his community could enjoy the music too. This was a purposeful exchange of society, as it was meant to offer opportunity to singers and musicians of color, so that all could see that music, in itself, held no barriers, but was available to be performed for anyone who would take it up.

Douglass, a man of exacting proportions of intellect and endeavor, by the late 1800’s was very widely traveled and accustomed to a wide variety of music; he shared knowledge easily, and with a deliberate taste for assortment.

Salon opportunities of socializing at his home included the music of spirituals as well as ‘parlor songs’ -a term for the American response to the fashion of European ‘art songs’, and performed by singers in the intimate settings of recitals, or salons.

Here are some selections of spirituals, and ‘parlor songs’ that might have had moment on Cedar Hill.

 

 All God’s Chillum Got Wings -Spiritual

Ain’t That Good News -Spiritual

Think On Me -composed (1850’s) by Alicia Ann Scott

 

Douglass would have heard original “art songs” in his traveling through Europe, and during the period of 1885 – 1887 he would have come across the songs of Johannes Brahms who was contemporary to this time, prolific and well known as a composer of the German art song called “lied”..

 

Sommerabend – composed (1885) by Johannes Brahms

 

At twilight the summer evening lies

Over green fields and forest;

Golden moon in the blue sky

Shines down, hazy, fragrantly refreshing.

By the brook chirps the cricket,

And the waters are stirring,

And the wanderer hears a ripple

And a breathing in the stillness.

Yonder, alone, by the brook,

The beautiful mermaid is bathing;

Arm and neck, white and lovely,

Shimmer in the moonlight.

 

Though not heard on Cedar Hill, Charles Ives is an American composer creating at the beginning of the 20th century. He took the many models of Europe, but sieved the form through American folk music and American ethnic rhythms into a style of classical interpretation that spoke of American origins and ‘soundscapes’.

Ives utilized the model of ‘art song’ to inform a growing musical language, reaching into atonality.

 

Afterglow –composed (1922) by Charles Ives

 

Moving forward into the musical landscape of American composer Philip Glass ..

Appomattox presents us with many of the characters of the civil war period, but central to this narrative is the character of Frederick Douglass. In its entirety  the opera skews time and weaves a tale that presents dynamics of power, with issues of civil liberty, through an assortment of historical characters that include President Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, as well as President Kennedy and Martin Luther King.

Philip Glass’ musical idiom is essentially referred to as “minimalism”, in that his use of orchestration and rhythmic dynamics are spare and utilized to accentuate and articulate patterns of speech and sketch specific emotion.

At first fully embracing this style of idiom, Glass, as he progressed from enfant terrible, to eminence grise, emended his identity to that of “being a composer of music with repetitive structures”.

These are some samples of Glass’ music.

The piece, Dance, was created in 1979, and was a work done in collaboration with Lucinda Childs (choreographer) and Sol LeWitt (artist); it was premiered in Amsterdam, then at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

 

Dance 8 – composed (1979) by Philip Glass

 

Moving closer to composition of Appomattox, Glass’ Symphony No.8 was written in 2006.

 

Symphony No.8  – 1st movement (partial) -composed (2006) by Philip Glass

During the program at Cedar Hill on the 24th October, along with a selection of parlor songs performed by local performing artists, there will be selections from Appomattox presented as well.

..in seeking to create this full program I have revisited a great deal of Douglass’ writings and speeches..

These are two which resonate with the wide dynamics of compassion and Abolitionist fire that was embodied within the man..

 

Douglass the Abolitionist; content of ‘July 4th’ speech (1852)

 

Douglass as Statesman; giving the oration at the unveiling of the Freedmen’s Monument, in Lincoln Park (1876)

Creating Unique Programming

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Creating. Unique. Programming.

…set against one another each of those words can wreck havoc in that they speak to something without precedent; something out of the ordinary; something, yet to be in an index table for “standard”.

One of the perks for being my age is that creating unique programming falls well into my paradigm of permissions I’ve embraced as ..well, as being my age.

It also comes while walking a fine line between ‘hubris’, ‘experience’ and ‘facilitation’.

That’s the other thing at my age: I’ve come to embrace all the gray in the dynamic needed to successfully engage the imagination of others, and move an idea across a threshold that often is sighted as cause for trepidation and anxiety – that “step” off the footpath, onto untrammeled concepts and terrain.. where “successful” comes proportionate to ones availability to being ‘unsure’, if not down right vulnerable.

If I am strong enough to appear foolish, I can encourage others to be less afraid of moments of awkwardness and ‘different’. At least, that’s the condition I use when shaping the grid to lead an expedition into something unique ..because going to such a place requires trust, beyond courage and bravery and an open mind; trust – that, sometimes, being willing to appear foolish is the right way to be strong.. and as dividend: learn something new; or at the least, glean what there is to be discovered along the way there..

I know this might thread as a rambling metaphorical falneur ..or ‘high falootin’ intellectual babbly-gook’ – but it is in the process of being able to find ways to articulate the, as yet, ‘unexpressed’, that discoveries are identified, and given concept; and given speech; and shaped, through words, to be offered as the solid steps into an unknown.

______________

Concepts need words of great sensitivity, and should be robust in their expressiveness, as each word, one against another, etches the ‘new found’, and goes a long way to desensitizing, delineating, defining the breadth of a unique thing..

But this process –this contextualization is not about purging “unique” of its qualities, to make that word an easy one.

It is about articulating the dimensions; it is about – exploring.

Explorers are intrepid; they are willing to dare; this does not mean they do so without fear.

Fear when stepping into the unknown is a healthy caution; it is a form of respect – and in this is a glimmer of the ‘multifacetness’ of language, as the very word “fear” usually halts any step – as it is a word that usually resonates with “fight or flight”..

But an intrepid explorer knows that fear informs fortitude – this leaves them on their toes; it courses energy into every fiber of their awareness to press them to gently search, or touch the boundaries of where they stand, discerning what is ahead, what is solid, what is unique, what is new, and what needs other articulation for mapping.

Once back in lands where a population awaits news of adventure, explorers are deemed “brave”, having survived their discoveries.

..but for the explorer.. when alone, in that place of discovery, trying to inch a foot, one step ahead of another.. – is “brave” the word they use in speaking to themselves, standing on the uncertain ground of “new”..?

I imagine them all tensile energy ..teasing out their awareness’s ahead of their body ..using their eyes ..their ears ..their previous experiences, their full senses to ‘echo image’ the defining contours of the ‘new’ that is before them.. – and relishing the fear which guides them forward to establish new as worthy.

__________________

Creating

Unique

Programming

is a platform for exploration that perhaps begins at a ‘given’, or at something ‘known’, but leads, ultimately, each of us, to somewhere new.

The next year is shaping up full of expeditions, and foolish, I search along to lead.

 

 

 

Written by tomminteroffthestoop

August 10, 2015 at 6:57 AM

…time stopped

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..’creating’ family is a process we all come to at some point to form the sustainable and nurturing relationships that embolden us to reach into our dreams, and manifest exceptional events..

The circumstance of making this occur connects friends in a tighter bond of interrelationships, that deepens through listening and advising –and, on occasion, allowing for not being heard, and not being understood; but always, ever, with undeterred support, engagement, embrace and ..a gravitational commitment to being ..family.

I have had the amazing chance of many re-invigorations and course changes in the journey of getting to 58 years old; not always pretty, but each notch of a year has always shown me how important it is to celebrate those who share the travel with me..

The years since 2001, when I returned from London to DC, have been threaded through, and bound in the particular clasp of a couple –Kristian Fauchald & Len Hirsch– who were not only engaged patrons in my specific efforts to establish a unique artistic voice, but were the kernel upon which a tight group of us, and a whole swath of community and intellect and even frivolousness, combined to establish holiday convocations of a full throated family of immense accomplishment, compassion, wit, and support.

..but, for a tighter few of us, in between those holiday dinners, chez Len & Kristian, where the door was always open, there were quiet evenings of dropping in and speaking about projects, parents, aging, fears, music, science, television, theatre, Norway, Europe, bio-diversity, marine biology discoveries, Polychaete’s, politics, civil rights, same sex marriage, cultural bias, classism, an eroding planet eco-system, the diminishment of dialogue to a snide snip called ‘txt’ –then Twitter.. – all satisfyingly impromptu, either settled at the dining room table, or in the living room’s ‘mid century’ chairs of dubious comfort, against an even more distracting color palette, and amongst the chaotic hangings and clutter of an avid inquisitiveness in art, artisan artifacts, tribal masks, piquant camp, and the talented products of a hobby in stained glass work.. a room accentuated by two modest photos of singular historic content and coalition ..Len in both – one with President Obama at the signing of the act repealing DOMA – and one, with Len, beaming pride, and standing close between a childhood friend, and a recent Supreme Court Justice..

It is not too small a thing to say that the home Len & Kristian made (originally on Q street, NW, and then, in the last 7 years, at 11th & M streets, NW) was a fulcrum, a place at the very pinch of the dynamism of the times, always fielding hot discourse of content, of politics, passion, science and vision..

I learned much, and have had the gift of sharing the learning; now, in the short span of 12 weeks, I have been taught something else.. as, in sequence in this period of time, stopped –first Kristian, then Len..

It is a hard thing to move through the loss of one; it is an inexpressible realization, to face the empty chairs of two..

-and yet, an image remains to facilitate even this.

Grand as the dinner may have been, stunning or ebulliently corrosive as the meal’s discourse may have served up – by a certain point in time in the evening, after desert but still in the midst of acute speculations- Kristian’s body clock and temperament would instigate his rise from the table –and with a genial nuanced shrug of ‘enough, enough’, and a gleam in his glance –Kristian’s move would signal something far more intimate than “let’s move on”..

..it was that special moment, that family signal (between two ends of the table – two men who had shared a partnered, then maried life of more than 32 years), that articulate subtlety, understood en famille, that digestion needed its moment, and that the reins of debate needed to yield..

Kristian would be up, and off to another part of the room, at ease to have the conversations roll on at table, or fracture to more comfortable corners of the flat –or, even to exit..

And we, the tighter knit of us, attuned to the tempos family share, would smile between us.. and, saited, slip out of the evening, into the night, homewards, full of the chatter and conversations, and new known things..

 

I feel this right now..

I am after dinner ..finding my way home, savoring all that had passed..

 

Len & Kristian, at Belgo in teh Strand, London, in 2004 ..coming to seeing a workshop presentation of my work, "Cakewalk"

Kristian (l) & Len (r), at Belgo in the Strand, London, in 2004 ..there to see a workshop presentation of my play, “Cakewalk”

Written by tomminteroffthestoop

July 18, 2015 at 10:37 AM

A talk on the past, touches the present

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When the pieces of a puzzle suddenly fit in place, it’s inevitably a wonderful feeling. But when the piece fits into a puzzle of family history, it can be the ‘ah-ha’ for resonating emotion and pride.

Stanford in Washington’s winter session had its Orientation this week, and it included a trip to the National Portrait Gallery, and the opportunity for a talk on the history of DC – the city, apart from the government.

I started the talk on the 2nd floor of the museum at the exhibition of Mr. Lincoln’s Washington: A Civil War Portfolio, which is a photographic presentation of DC, and the President, in the latter part of the Civil War.

It shows a city rummaged up from dust into white stone and masonry; carriages and top hats; Union uniforms, rifles; thoroughfares of tamped dirt and ranks of pedestrians; parasols, horses and buggies; prestigious edifices, such as the Patent Office, forts, hospitals, and the Navy Yard; images grabbed in action, set in panoramic still life; sunlight of the 1860’s: on sweat; brightness bleeds earnest and palpable emotions out of death numbed survival; some glances are filled with apprehension, others are looks full of expectation.

My talk initiated in speaking about Congress’ 1790 Residence Act, appropriating land from Virginia and Maryland to establish a residence for the nation’s government – imbuing this District, from the outset, with specific purpose of opportunity.

By 1865 this area, the District of Columbia, war weary, ravaged and burnt, still gleamed as the embodiment of freedom, being the place from which slavery had been abolished by Proclamation, and further enshrined in government.

Touching the very soil of this city could be supposed a religious experience, and worth pilgrimage to former slaves, suddenly vested as a “population” of this country, wishing to be established as true citizens.

In 1860 the national census identified 3,953,760 slaves in this country, and 488,070 Freed Blacks. In 1870 it identified 0 slaves in this country, and 4,880,009 Freed Blacks..

With the knowledge of those numbers, and sight of Mr. Lincoln’s Washington before us, my talk moved into the mandate for education that became the paean of further enfranchisement, exhorted by such black men of stature as Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Carter Woodson, who comprehended the vast challenge ahead of establishing an African American existence after slavery that would faithfully support a new legacy of permanent application and advancement in American society.

The opportunity, to define African American beyond property or domestic, demanded a context for an emerging culture; it required apparatus for educating a sudden population of over four million souls.

We moved into the exhibition of The Struggle For Justice, where my talk broadened into the establishment of the initial network of black colleges, such as Fisk University, established in 1866, Morehouse College, established in 1867, Hampton College, established in 1868, and Tuskegee University, established in 1881 – each of which were to determine the quality of opportunity a new society of educated people of color could have.

Standing in front of the images of George Washington Carver, and W.E.B. Du Bois, I spoke of the reach of higher education, and brought into sequence the through line of the impact on Washington City, and, in its Jim Crow laws of segregation, the paradox of it inculcating within its environs a territory of black endeavor and merchant success, codified as the ‘city within a city’, and the place of one of the most important institutions of education, Howard University, established in 1867, which became the hotbed for philosophical debate in giving definition to a “New Negro”, as well as approbation in creating the art, music, and essence of literature upon which to stand this prototype.

The dynamism of this city within a city, drew talent, and thought, and enterprise, advancement, entrepreneurship, commerce, banking, and society, all –of color. It became an unspoken template of a way of enriching culture, while under the very stone of inequity which the nation at large had set to cap and contain such endeavor..

And the footpath to come up within this environ were the high schools, for color, one of which, Armstrong Manual Training High School, had its very corner stone laid by the hands of Booker T. Washington.

The philosophy of this school looked to make its students self sufficient; able to make their own bricks, build their own homes, grow their own grain, farm their own livestock, master their own accounts, and invent to their own science.

The direct line, out of slavery, and through such as Booker T. Washington, into higher education, established schools as another place of sanctity and benefit. It also meant that they held a position in black culture where “opportunity” encompassed everything to be found in any relevant society.

In this, commitment to the Arts was profound, and a place for nascent artists of color to be identified, sustained, embraced, applauded, supported and presented for all to see.

My intention was to speak to two specific portraits housed in the collection of the NPG; as it turned out, I was only able to speak in front of one of them, and reference the other.

The two people, who for me are linked in the circumstances of opportunity specifically offered in the history of the District, and specifically connected with Armstrong Manual Training High School, are Marian Anderson, and Duke Ellington.

The portrait of Marian Anderson is part of the exhibition of The Struggle For Justice. Though she is usually identified with DC in reference to the concert in the Mall, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, which occurred in 1939, my talk went to the roots Ms. Anderson had earlier established in the District, and, specifically, in the city within a city.

Ms Anderson’s presence in the District formalized through her engagement by Howard University, in 1933, through their Lyceum Concert Series, which offered opportunity as a recital and song series held in the Andrew Rankin Chapel, on campus.

Though Ms Anderson was already establishing herself in opportunities abroad, she would remain faithful to being available for the Series, and always make her way back to DC to participate.

By 1934 her notoriety was such that the crowds who came to hear her were too great to be held within the intimate space of the Chapel, and Howard University moved the series to the auditorium of Armstrong.

In 1935, after a sensational European tour, culminating in her debut onstage at the Paris Opera, Ms. Anderson returned to an America of Jim Crow limitations and a culture reticent to embrace an artist of color.

After a Town Hall recital, in New York, Ms. Anderson received an invitation to sing at the White House, extended by the First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt.

The White House visit coincided with Ms Anderson’s presence in the 1935 concert series, and there was an expectation that the crowd would be too large for any auditorium.

It was at this point that Ms. Anderson’s manager, Sol Hurok, first reached out to see if he could book Constitution Hall.

But the Hall’s policy of denying its stage to anyone of color could not be challenged at this point in time, and so Mr. Hurok and Howard University continued to utilize Armstrong’s auditorium, and, in subsequent years, utilized opportunity of the auditorium at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School.

…but by 1939 Ms Anderson’s fame was such that the size of the expected crowd pre-condition that the Concert Series had to be held in a larger environment.

It was at this time that Mr. Hurok made the determination to petition for use of Constitution Hall once again, which was denied, after which, history clasped the reins –the denial became the lit fuse to a series of unprecedented acts of civil remonstration, furthered by the resignation by Eleanor Roosevelt of her membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), the officiating body who held ownership of Constitution Hall.

Ultimately Ms. Anderson presented herself in consummate artistry to a crowd of over 5,000 people in the Mall, at the steps to the Lincoln Memorial.

…at this point in my talk I’d intended to lead a tour to the 3rd floor, and into the Bravo showcase, where the portrait of Duke Ellington is situated –but time had grown slim, and, swiftly concluding my lecture, I mentioned Duke, and the fact that he had gone to Armstrong as a high school student – a school which, to this day, still serves its community; a school whose linage contained the lit embers of endeavor, laid in its cornerstone by Booker T. Washington, and at one point in the nineteen-teens was held in stewardship of culture overseen by Carter Woodson, the 2nd man of color to receive his PhD from Harvard University, who would go on to be Dean of Philosophy at Howard University.

All of this history is a powerful legacy that is resident in the U Street corridor, in the city within a city and remains pertinent. A fact that made itself explicitly clear at a post lecture lunch..

At my table, intermittently during the meal, a guest to the day’s orientation was holding a discrete exchange on her mobile. Just as lunch was being served, she looked up at the group of us round the table beaming and said, “I was meant to be at that talk today.”

-she continued: When I was growing up my grandmother would tell me about the time she gave up her membership with the DAR. It was something very important to her, the position she took, but, to be honest, it didn’t have context for me ..it was just something my grandmother had done, which had made her proud. Listening to the talk about Marian Anderson, I wondered if this was the situation that had made her choose to give up her membership. So I txt’d her-“

And she read from the response.

Her grandmother, now in her eighties, and reaching through an immediacy of technology, fully shared the story and identified that it was, indeed, connected to Marian Anderson.

..though it was an amazing moment be in the weave at this coming together of a living context for conversation, review, and definition, to further continue the connection of personal journey in this family’s oral history –I have to admit to enjoying the laugh at the end of the exchange, as the grandmother concluded her txt by saying –“If you want to know more about Marian Anderson, use the internet.”

..and in that spoke to a life, not only of keeping her personal context with history alive, but also being fully engaged with her present and the advance of technology and social media ..all to encourage and share with her granddaughter, a personal sense of pride and Witness.

..affirming that the past is always present.

A Reading In NY..

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..it has been far too much time between entries, and though there has been a great deal going on, the tempo has been such that I have not had the opportunity to pause and commit to reflection..

A good thing! Never fault too much to do ..but, I must find the way to enjoy moments of viewing the ride!

Such a moment has appeared in the invitation by a company in NY, Blackboard Plays, who reached out wondering if I would mind their featuring my piece Reconstruction in their Reading Series schedule; the presentation is Monday the 12th May, at 7:30, in The Cell space, at 338 W. 23rd Street (which is bet 8th & 9th).

The space where the reading is being held is wonderful platform; I was introduced to it by the folks of The Cell, who gave a workshop reading of 3 one act plays of mine, in an evening entitled, Doors To My House.

With Reconstruction though, I find myself at a special moment of expectation; I feel this remains a very unique work, and every opportunity it has to be heard -to be experienced -to be the fodder for conversation -well ..it is a rare and wonderful thing.

Reconstruction speaks to discerning choices hidden in the past and made in conscious sacrifice of survival; a portrait, inherited by Ioni, resonates with answers to forgotten questions, and becomes the agent in discerning a legacy that threads her life with that of an artist in France, Francois, who himself is haunted by the complex undercurrents of legacy..

The play shifts in time; details present an America of the 1870’s, while converging answers, in 2008, occur in both America and Paris, France.

This is the first time the play is receiving a public reading in NY. I am grateful for the support of Blackboard Plays, and each of those generous souls along the way, who have participated in bringing this work to community.

Written by tomminteroffthestoop

May 6, 2014 at 10:28 AM

Weaving the Bridge notes

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Actors need lines to read, or scenes to enact; musicians need notes to play, or parameters within which to riff.

Blues For A Royal Flush requires a group of artists, diverse in their expertise, to come together to put notes, words, and details ahead of the actions of actors, musicians, and technicians, so that this theatre piece can step onto its unique platform, and be experienced.

In exploring further, resonant interactions, I have found my way to envelope a stream of Billy Strayhorn into this narrative. The suggestive “Royal Flush” seems now to have further flesh; Duke, Ethel, Ella and Billy.

The work of Strayhorn is seminal to understanding Duke’s genius; a knack for finding talent, and construing it into a mantle of his own. The artists who worked, played, or wrote for Duke, came to know his way of ‘momentum’; making himself the light of the thunderclap.

..this paradigm of collaboration cost everyone involved utter commitment and a meshing of ego beyond a known map of partnership.

But the bargain was never really about obliterating the diversity of the individual voices, but of melding the sound into the distinct texture and tones of Ellington’s mystique.

It is easy to mark this journey through Witness of the exhaust trail. And this is well done in too many other places.

Blues For A Royal Flush is not going to attempt to speak as biography, but as instances of encounter; as ‘moments’, when the sparks struck surface, igniting an outline of personality, perseverance, preservation, performance.. and patience..

In its stride, Blues will include a cohort of its own artists, weaving their individual expertise into a bridge of grace notes to achieve a tapestry of storytelling beyond the page of a script.

The vision of this project has gained the imagination of three, very individual and unique talents: documentarian, Samantha Cheng; cultural illustrator, Nekisha Durrett; and filmmaker, Penny Hollis.

Their distinct styles will be utilized as ‘thresholds’; sequences of narrative image to resonate/’usher in’, scenes of live action.

This is not about playing with media as a ‘toy’, but about finding the right moments to work with its ability to deliver a deeper layer of the ..unspoken context, that pervade our experiences, and enhances 21st century communication – because Blues, though it speaks of the past, is a work of the present, and is a multidisciplinary endeavor.

As a commission by Stanford in Washington, Blues must also speak to a wide dynamic of audience; not only students, faculty, and alumnae, but to the larger community in which Stanford stands established.

In alignment with the ethos of its commission, this project continues to broaden into an educational opportunity; it has engaged the participation of students from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, in DC.

Interns, from DESA’s Museum Studies, and Theatre track, have joined to research archive material and images, which will be offered to the project’s visual artists as possible material to work with, or ‘re-imagine’ with. For these interns, working with established artists creates opportunity for an exchange of knowledge and ‘real life application’ that might not otherwise be available.

Additionally the students will create their own image gallery and content exhibition, elaborating on their personal discoveries while investigating lesser known details, and challenges, in the lives of the artists they’ve researched.

This component of exhibition will be part of the overall event, of Blues’ presentation, allowing the interns platform and recognition for their work.

As artist, and Teaching artist, I am very grateful for this project; as the deeper institutional partnerships that are threading, because of it, are crucial to ensuring that Arts Education is not tilted entirely off the future landscape ..