Styles converge at theater workshops

Posted: Thursday, June 22, 2000

Perseverance Theatre has traded Lady Lou for food for the soul.

``We were looking for a way to spend our summers, and economically the `Lady Lou Review' was just breaking even in its final seasons and was very draining,'' said Peter Dubois, the theater's artistic director. ``We wanted a way to spend summers that would be artistically and spiritually nourishing for artists and members of our community.''

DuBois and a friend, writer Thalia Field, developed the summer writing and performing workshop. Eight classes will be taught by five instructors, starting Monday. Most of the classes will meet three times for 2 1/2 hours. Classes include poetry, screenwriting basics, playwriting, introduction to the Suzuki acting method and an overview of performance styles.

The theme of the program is what Field and DuBois call ``cross-training.'' Field described it as a juxtaposition of different artistic styles. For example, as a playwright Field incorporates elements of poetry into her scripts.

``I believe these structures talk to each other,'' she said. ``I tell stories but sometimes they look like poems. I don't feel like a story just exists in one way of telling itself.''

Field taught writing at Brown University in Rhode Island and currently teaches at the Naropa University in Boulder, Colo. She's editor of ``Conjunction,'' a biannual literary anthology, and she's written a number of plays and scripts. Her first book, ``Point and Line,'' was recently published by New Directions.

``I just take from a lot of different art forms,'' she said. ``There can be a lot of innovative projects that come out of people being exposed to forms outside their own, or new ways of thinking of the forms they're in, (such as) a dancer thinking about storytelling.''

Another Boulder-based artist, dancer Michelle Spencer, will also be teaching classes which embody the cross-training philosophy.

``She's experimenting with how movement can inspire writing,'' Field said. ``The movement and writing class seeks to connect the body and mind, (with) improvised movement that leads to writing.''

Spencer will also teach interdisciplinary adaptation, which focuses directly on the cross-training approach to art. Participants will study the works of composer J.S. Bach, painter Hans Hofmann and choreographer Merce Cunningham, looking at the broad themes in each form -- balance, tension and contrast, for example.

Other instructors include DuBois, Juneau-based screen writer Dave Hunsaker, and New York-based actor and director Leon Ingulsrud.

Field and DuBois plan to present the workshop every summer.

``We want to bring in leading artists from around the country and the state to teach,'' DuBois said.

``I hope it will become an actual summer school for artists,'' Field said. ``Summer is a good time for people to move outside what they do, to take a class in something they thought they'd never try.''

The theater is hoping to make some money from the classes, according to DuBois.

``Enough money to produce the classes and keep us running in the summer,'' he said. ``We're still a nonprofit and no one's getting rich off this.''

There will be two free performances offered to the public as part of the workshop. Leon Ingulsrud, whose class in the Suzuki acting method is already filled, will perform at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Perseverance. Spencer, the dancer, will perform the same time the following week, on Wednesday, July 5. The subjects of the performances are not finalized.

Students will also be reading works created in the workshops at 7 p.m. Friday, June 30 and July 7, at the theater. A final picnic at 7 p.m. July 8 will also include performances and readings.

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