A little over two years ago my uncle said something that lit a stubborn spark in me that has grown and grown, and has refused to be put out. He said that he'd noticed that every generation of women in our family has had half the amount of children as the generation before. So my great-grandmother had eight children.
My grandmother had four.
My mother had two.
And currently in my own generation, across all the cousins, we have just one on the way (no picture yet!). On a family level, I am interested in the reality of fewer and fewer children being willed into the world, and the potential extinction of my maternal line, while simultaneously, I find the threat of swelling world-wide populations terrifying. I wonder about what is really happening to us on a micro and macro level - and I began this project because a dry sociological treatise seemed to be all that was available to me in the way of understanding (and I have never been good at understanding that way).
I thought a good place to start would be to interview some women, and I limited myself to women without children, so as not to be completely overwhelmed by the content I would collect. I talked to women who had chosen not to have children, women who might still have children, and women who could not. The interviews often resulted in tears, confessions, and uproarious laughter. We talked about children, about being women, and about our changing world. After about 50 conversations, all of which I recorded, and many of which I transcribed, it became clear that the conversation about whether to have or not have a child was a really tangled debate, with some pretty existential dimensions, especially given the number of humans already on the planet today, and the impact they're having on it.
So in January 2012, I set to work finding the ultimate ensemble and designers to develop this research material with me, and to manifest it in real time and space. I found an amazing crew.
Other Contributing Artists - Marina Libel, Nancy Ellis Pitchko, and Sara Nye
Ilse Zoerb - Assistant Director, Megan Thibodeaux - Production Manager
1st Phase - In June we made our first attempts at the raw material, and traveled to Martha Posner's farm where we practiced moving with her sculptures, occasionally serenaded by the sound of mating peacocks. Martha’s work is marked by an emotional rawness which is due in part to her evocative and corporeal transformation of materials: beeswax, synthetic hair, pigment, mud, fabric and fibers. Her sculptures and drawing often feature the female form and combine autobiography, mythology, alchemy, history and fairy tales.
2nd Phase - In December we built our first complete and rough collage of the work at Underground Arts, where we have been generously given space to devise. The ensemble and designers plunged in, and emerged two weeks later covered in paint, sweat, and autumn leaves. Again the process was full of tears, confessions, and unending laughter. The play was long, messy, and as one audience member described it - "Epic!"
3rd Phase - It's up to you!
With your help we can make it across the finish line. We’re trying to raise $10,000 to cover some of our costs. Your contribution will go towards one of two things.
1) Paying the 5 professional performers and 5 experienced designers, who have been working ceaselessly to create the work, for 6 more weeks of development and performance.
2) Production materials - building set, buying costumes, renting lights.
We have some nifty thank-you gifts to help incentivize you.
Since this is a conversation about women (although certainly not only for women), I wanted to offer a little piece of that conversation to you in the form of photographs of women I have taken in places I've lived and traveled. Here are a few of the images from which you can chose:
From Martha - an original limited edition print created for this project.
Risks and challenges
Devising live theater can be expensive. We start with nothing, not even a script. Just a handful of ideas, some warm bodies, a stubborn belief, and the determination to play. It’s probably the most logistically challenging art form that human beings have managed to create. (I feel the filmmakers protesting, but I'm gonna hold my ground on this one.) Those of us who have dedicated our lives to it often ask ourselves "WHY!" But yet we persevere...Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)