Vermont Performance Lab Welcomes Visitors into Rehearsal Spaces During Vermont's Open Studio Weekend, May 28

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Marlboro, VT – Spring in Vermont brings a burst of green mountains, maple syrup, peonies, and the Vermont Performance Lab (VPL) Open Lab event on Saturday, May 28 at Marlboro College in Marlboro, VT. VPL’s Open Lab coincides with the state-wide Open Studio Weekend from the Vermont Craft Council. Started in the mid 1990’s, Open Studio Weekend celebrates the creative process and role that artists play in the vitality of Vermont’s communities by inviting visitors into the studios of artists through self-guided tours happening over the Memorial Day weekend.

In that spirit of celebrating art making, this fun and informal Open Lab event welcomes visitors to experience the creative process for three interdisciplinary projects led by theater artist Ain Gordon, and choreographers Jennifer Monson, and Sara Smith. From 1-4pm, with showings at 1:00pm, 2:00pm, and 3:00pm, Open Lab visitors will have the unique opportunity to meet the artists and their collaborators, discuss their projects in development and get a glimpse into the early stages of new performance work. VPL’s Open Lab event is free and visitors are encouraged to come early, bring a picnic, and enjoy the beautiful Marlboro College campus.

Now in its 10th Anniversary Season, VPL’s Lab program has nurtured the research and development phases for over 50 dance, theater, film and music projects that have supported over 350 artists. The work developed in VPL’s Lab program has gone on to win numerous awards, and tour nationally and internationally. Artist residency programs like VPL’s offer artists time, space, and resources to create without limitations, experiment, and test new work in front of audiences.

In Fall 2015, theater artist Ain Gordon worked with VPL to partner with Marlboro College and Green Mountain Crossroads to research radical movements in the ‘60s and ‘70s for a new theater work, Radicals in Miniature. Gordon is a three-time Obie Award-winning artist known for unearthing marginalized histories as source material for live theater. During the Open Lab, he will be collaborating with composer/performer Josh Quillen and dramaturge Talvin Wilks to further develop the piece.

Choreographer Jennifer Monson will work with a diverse range of artists who span discipline, geography, and generation to develop three parts of her newest piece, in tow: the live performance, related web-based TV series, and sound score with harpist/composer Zeena Parkins. Often working between dance, science, and environment, Monson is committed to pushing both artists and Open Lab visitors to expand and reimagine approaches to the experimental category of live performance through a work-in-progress showing of in tow.

Interdisciplinary choreographer, librarian, and editor of the KINEBAGO journal, Sara Smith, will work in VPL’s Lab to develop a new multimedia performance work, Florence Rice Hitchcock and the Theory of the Soft Earth. Combining dance with computer animation and mock documentary, Smith will collaborate with lighting designer Kathy Couch, scenic artist Gina Siepel and with performer Candice Salyers, and develop new movement material to test in front of Open Lab viewers.

VPL’s Open Lab is presented in association with Marlboro College and is sponsored by Ryall Porter Sheridan Architects, and is made possible with generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts, and VPL’s Creation Fund donors. VPL’s Open Lab celebrates Vermont Arts 2016, in celebration of public funding for the arts.

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AIN GORDON is a three-time Obie Award-winning writer/director/actor, a two-time NYFA recipient and a Guggenheim Fellow in Playwriting. Gordon’s work has been seen at BAM Next Wave Festival, New York Theatre Workshop, Soho Rep., The Public Theater, 651 ARTS, Dance Theater Workshop, Performance Space 122, Baryshnikov Arts Center, and HERE Arts Center (all NY); the Mark Taper Forum (CA), the George Street Playhouse (NJ), Vermont Performance Lab, Flynn Center for the Performing Arts (VT), Krannert Center (IL), the Kitchen Theatre (NY), OnStage at Connecticut College, MASS MoCA, the Baltimore Museum of Art (MD), DiverseWorks (TX), Spirit Square (NC), VSA North Fourth Arts Center (NM), Jacob’s Pillow (MA), LexArts (KY), and Dance Space (DC), etc. Gordon’s 2003 work; “Art Life & Show-Biz; A Non-Fiction Play,” is published in Palgrave Macmillan’s “Dramaturgy Of The Real On The World Stage.” Collaborations: with Sō Percussion presented at the Walker Art Center (MN), BAM Next Wave Festival (NY), River To River (NY), and Philadelphia Fringe, etc; with Samita Sinha at American Dance Institute (MD) and PS122 COIL Festival (NYC); with Emily Johnson/Catalyst Dance at Northrop (MN), NYLA, On The Boards (WA), and ODC (CA), etc; with Bebe Miller at the Wexner Center (OH), Myrna Loy Center/Helena Presents (MT), and Bates Dance Festival (ME), etc; with David Gordon at American Repertory Theatre (MA), American Conservatory Theater (CA) and American Music Theatre Festival (PA). Gordon appeared in the original Off-Broadway cast of Spalding Gray: Stories Left To Tell and toured the production to venues including UCLA, Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (OR), ICA Boston (Elliot Norton Award nom), the Walker (MN), and New Territories (UK), etc. Gordon also wrote for NBC’s “Will & Grace.” Gordon is a former Core Writer of the Playwright’s Center (MN), was the inaugural Visiting Artist at the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage (PA), a 2014/15 Artist-In-Residence at NYU Tisch School of The Arts, and is currently an Artist-In-Residence at the Historic Society of Pennsylvania, and a Resident Artist at The Hermitage (FL). Gordon is Co-Founder of the Urban Memory Project and has been Co-Director of the Pick Up Performance Co(s) since 1992.

JENNIFER MONSON is a choreographer, performer, and teacher. Since 1983, she has explored strategies in choreography, improvisation, and collaboration in experimental dance. In 2000, her work took a new turn to investigate the relationship between movement and environment. This ongoing research has led her into inquiries of cultural and scientific understandings of large-scale phenomenon such as animal navigation and migration, geological formations such as aquifers, and re-functioned sites such as the abandoned Ridgewood Reservoir. These studies provide the means to unearth and inquire into choreographic and embodied ways of knowing and re-imagining our relationship to the environments and spaces humans/all beings inhabit. Her projects BIRD BRAIN (2000-2005), iMAP/Ridgewood Reservoir (2007), and the Mahomet Aquifer Project (2008-2010), SIP (sustained immersive process)/watershed are investigations that have radically reframed the role dance plays in our cultural understandings of nature and wilderness. She has received fellowships from the NEA, the Guggenheim Foundation, New York Foundation for the Arts, The Lambent Foundation, and the Foundation for Contemporary Art among others. She has received two Bessie awards- one for sustained achievement in the field and one for BIRD BRAIN. In addition to serving as Artistic Director of iLAND, Monson is currently a Professor at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign as part of a new initiative of the Environmental Council. Monson is also a Professor at Large at the University of Vermont, a six-year term in collaboration with the dance, environmental studies, and library departments.

SARA SMITH is an interdisciplinary choreographer and librarian, who creates performances and other works which traverse dance, visual art, writing, and historical research. Sara is invested in creative practices which explore the poetics and politics of embodied research. Her work takes the form of books, installations, and videos, but most o!en live performance, which she values as a communally transformative space, and believes is one of the best ways to present a large amount of research in a cohesive form. Sara holds BA in visual art and dance from Hampshire College, an MFA in dance from Sarah Lawrence College, and an MLS from Simmons College. She has received support for her work from The LEF Foundation, Durham (NC) Arts Council, Maine Arts Commission, Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, and the North Carolina Arts Council, residency fellowships from The MacDowell Colony and Yaddo, and a 2015 creative research fellowship from The American Antiquarian Society. In 2014, she was a Massachusetts Cultural Council choreography fellowship finalist. Sara’s work has been seen and heard at venues throughout the U.S., including Amherst College, A.P.E. Gallery (Northampton MA), Brooklyn Arts Exchange (BAX), Catch!, The Chocolate Factory, Cultivate (NH), Danspace Project, Duke University, Galapagos Art Space, Green Street Studios (Cambridge MA), HERE Arts Center, Hollins University, Incubator Arts Project, Joyce SoHo, LaMaMa, Mt. Tremper Arts, SPACE Gallery (Portland ME), The Puppet Lab at St. Ann’s Warehouse, and Ur (where she was a resident choreographer from 2003-2005). She has been a visiting artist at Amherst College, the Five College Dance Department, Hampshire College, Hollins University, Maine College of Art, Marlboro College, Mildred’s Lane, and Sarah Lawrence College. As a designer, director, dramaturg, and writer, Sara has worked with a wide range of other artists including visual artist Gina Siepel, filmmaker Adam Levine, and choreographers Polly Motley, Candice Salyers, and Chris Yon, among others. She has collaborated with Karinne Keithley on multiple projects over the past twenty years, including Montgomery Park, Or Opulence, which won a 2011 “Bessie” (New York Dance and Performance Award) for Outstanding Production, and most recently Another Tree Dance, now available as a book from 53rd State Press. From 1998-2003 she was the editor of Body/Language journal, and in 2011 founded KINEBAGO, a publication devoted to New England dance and performance. Sara lives in Greenfield, Massachusetts.

Vermont Performance Lab (VPL) is a laboratory for creative research and community engagement. Since 2006, VPL has brought artists of regional, national and international stature to the grange halls, studios and classrooms of rural Vermont through its innovative artist residency program. Last year VPL’s community and education programs served more than 1,700 students, young professionals, families and seniors in Windham County through workshops, informal performances and art-making experiences. VPL often partners with local organizations to host such residencies and create meaningful connections between artists and communities.
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With locations in the foothills of Vermont’s Green Mountains and downtown Brattleboro, Marlboro College provides independent thinkers with exceptional opportunities to broaden their intellectual horizons, benefit from a small and close-knit learning community, create a strong framework for personal and career fulfillment, and make a positive difference in the world. At our undergraduate campus in the town of Marlboro and our Center for Graduate and Professional Studies in Brattleboro, students engage in deep exploration of their interests—and discover new avenues for using their skills to benefit themselves and others—in an atmosphere that emphasizes critical and creative thinking, independence, social justice, sustainability, and community.

Open Studio Weekend is a statewide celebration of the visual arts and creative process, offering a unique opportunity for visitors to meet a wide variety of artists and craftspeople in their studios, some of which are only open to the public during this event. The self-guided Open Studio tour features the work of glassblowers, jewelers, printmakers, potters, furniture makers, weavers, ironworkers, painters, sculptors, quilt makers and wood carvers. Many galleries will host gallery talks and feature special exhibits in conjunction with this event.
The Vermont Crafts Council publishes a free map booklet with directions to participating sites. The Vermont Open Studio Guide is available throughout the state at Tourist Information Centers, galleries and studios. The Vermont Crafts Council is a non-profit organization serving the Vermont visual arts community. Open Studio Weekend is supported by the Vermont Arts Council and by the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing. For more information, call 802-223-3380 or visit

Presented by Vermont Performance Lab in association with Marlboro College
Sponsored by Ryall Porter Sheridan Architects
VPL’s Open Lab will support three different interdisciplinary projects led by theater artist Ain Gordon, and choreographers Jennifer Monson, and Sara Smith. Come meet the artists and their collaborators and get a sneak peek into their creative process through open rehearsals and conversations.
WHEN: 1:00-4:00pm with showings at 1:00, 2:00, and 3:00 on Saturday, May 28
WHERE: Serkin Center + Whittemore Theater, Marlboro College, 2582 South Road, Marlboro, VT 05344. When you arrive on campus, please follow the VPL signs.
TICKETS: Free rehearsals + Talks | No tickets/reservations