Pulitzer winners to premier collaboration in Denver
[The following article was published in Variety the week of March 6.]
Tony Kushner, Paula Vogel, and Suzan-Lori Parks are among the contributors to Curious Theatre Company's The War Anthology, a multimedia drama premiering on March 11th.
Associate Artistic Director Bonnie Metzger, formerly of the Public Theatre, conceived the show in 2004 with company a.d. Chip Walton and Vogel, a board member.
Associate Artistic Director
Curious Theatre Company
"We were really interested in Curious finding a project for multiple artists to collaborate on," Metzger says. "It's something Curious hasn't done before. Every season Chip has done something totally new, and we felt like finding a way where writers and other artists could come together. We see this as the next step in our growth as a company."
Metzger describes the production as an inclusive look at the history of America at war and what this has meant to its people.
"We're trying to capture how that feels today. So, the Civil War and the Spanish-American War and the global conflicts that have created a tradition are important as a foundation, but for us it's a launch at trying to get at where we are now."
Conceiving a methodology for the collaboration has been an artistic challenge.
"We started with the idea that the strength of the project was going to be in a diversity of voices, so we made lists of who might be interesting in combination. The nature of the project is that no two artists can write on the same conflict."
Writers were brought on board one at a time, with each selecting, as a starting point, a photograph from a different war involving the U.S. After each commitment to the project, Metzger looked for another writer whose style would contrast with what she already had. In some cases, she asked writers for something specific.
"For instance, because of certain things in her writing, we asked Elaine Romero (Barrio Hollywood)—she's a Latina writer from Arizona, and interestingly has a lot of military background in her family, her grandfather was at Iwo Jima—to write about Hiroshima."
Other contributors include Mildred Ruiz and Steve Sapp of Universes (the Bronx-based spoken word company), Robert Louis Vaughn (The Rest of the Night), and local playwright Melissa Lucero McCarl (Painted Bread).
Each segment will be limited to 15 minutes. Workshops were held in NYC, and in Denver with the company, to begin to shape the pieces. In addition to the pictorial and dramatic themes, Metzger enlisted local experimental theatre and multimedia talent Brian Freeland (a.d. of The LIDA Project) to create a video component that will run throughout the production.
Writings were also solicited from veterans and active-duty servicemen and women, as well as there families.
"For us to address on stage the principles of what it means to be an American, we have to welcome a cacophony of opposing viewpoints. …And part of this process of showing the chaos of these opposing definitions of who we are means embracing the viewpoints of military families. This not only includes veterans for peace and mothers against Iraq, but people who really believe in a solemn way about serving their country and who are currently serving."