I sometimes consider small theater companies to be islands of sanity, beauty, and evolution, and the name of one of them, Archipelago Theatre, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, evokes that for me. Over the past decade or so one of my friends, writer and dramaturg Nor Hall, has collaborated with the artistic director there, Ellen Hemphill, to create some remarkable productions. The most recent was Out of the Blue, an original work that, in the words of Hemphill:
centers on axial moments, those instances in time when the balance of life shifts unexpectedly – sometimes subtly, sometimes cataclysmically, but always irrevocably – and launches one headlong down an unforeseen path. In this work, we will explore the desire and effort it takes to create balance in our lives, those provocations that tip the balance and change life for all eternity, the ways in which we respond to those changes, and the synergy of multiple axial moments in collision. Out of the Blue examines what is certainly a universally human experience, positioning the sometimes weighty, sometime humorous arguments for destiny and free will squarely against the element of chance.
Quoting John Lennon, "Life is what happens to you when you are busy making other plans." This can be on a mythical, a global and more often, on a mundane daily level. With this large concept in mind, our intention is to create a series of scenarios that bring the characters to the point of change or transformation, most often as a result of something "out of the blue." By creating two worlds of characters: the seen and unseen, we hope to to ignite the imagination of the audience with fresh insight into those moments we tend to forget.
As artists we develop a sort of pattern recognition in order to see what's hidden in plain sight, out everyone's front door. Conveying the emotive power and precarious balance inherent in these scenes requires an unusual team of sense-based artists who can exquisitely craft a common language of movement, sound and visual image.I'll write more about this tomorrow, from Hall's perspective. In the meantime, think about that notion of axial moments. What hits you, out of the blue? The photo here is by Jay O'Berski.