2017 Lab Artists: the Everett Company
Since 1986, the Providence-based Everett Company has been devising multidisciplinary theater works that tour nationally. Everett productions are developed through a research-driven multi-year process that examines questions of urgent interest to the ensemble and to society. Research material is explored through improvisations, which enable the subconscious mind to make unexpected connections between seemingly disparate elements. Improvisations are videoed, and the directors select exceptional brief moments of text, movement, imagery, or song for the ensemble to meticulously relearn. Once a critical mass of strong sequences are created, they are continually shuffled until the overall shape and meaning of the work emerges. Humor is utilized, even while addressing serious subjects, to leaven difficult material and make it more approachable. Narrative threads interwoven with more abstract sequences create a tightly edited collage that provide audiences with multiple points of entry into the work, impacting viewers in a personal and unique way depending on what experiences they bring to a piece, and their interpretations.
Everett’s newest work, the Freedom Project - a multimedia physical theater piece that interweaves gripping personal stories, evocative imagery, and athletic choreography in an examination of mass incarceration in America. Engaging audiences on visceral emotional and intellectual levels, the piece puts a human face on the alarming statistics by evocatively sharing stories of people who have been marginalized by incarceration. Built from research and the personal experience of the cast, each of whom has a friend or family member who has been in prison, the piece is a collage of facts, visual metaphors, poetic stage images, spoken word, and movement. People with direct experience of the criminal justice system were brought into the creative process. Some of them appear in the piece via beautifully choreographed video projections on moving scenographic elements. To further ask “How can performance most effectively contribute to a movement to end mass incarceration?”
In 2017 VPL will host a two-part residency with the Everett Company using the Freedom Project as a way to bring attention to and create civic dialogue around incarceration and issues affecting prisoners and their families in our rural communities. Visit VPL’s event page for details about the Freedom Café and performances of the Freedom Project.