From the Editor: Volume XI. Mar-April 2014

by Donna Walker-Kuhne

And so we close this chapter of the Launching New Plays into the Repertoire, an initiative of The Lark Play Development Center which presented  Marcus Gardley’s play, the road weeps, the well runs dry around the country. It has been a three year journey which included creating partnerships with four theaters, finalizing the tour, hosting town halls and community engagement events, and producing four independent yet very conjoined productions.

It was back in May, 2012 when Lark staff and all the directors experienced the first production in Juneau, Alaska at Perseverance Theater. It was cold and snowy there and incredibly beautiful. In addition to presenting an artistic experience, the impetus of the project was to also have an impact on the local community. The impact of the road weeps… continues to inform their diversity efforts almost two years later as evidenced in the article by Storyteller Joanne Alcantara. She discusses how their commitment to an inclusion initiative has been integrated into the culture of the staff, board, community, and especially their current productions. The seed for diversity and inclusion has been firmly planted.

José Luis Valenzuela, Artistic Director of the Latino Theater Company, provides a wonderfully insightful interview discussing the risks in producing the play, the growth of the Company as a result, and the deepening of his commitment to always ‘present the art’ and ‘protect the art’. Despite objections from the board and his community, José felt this was an important play that could (possibly) begin to bridge cultures. And how rich to hear that measuring the play’s success was not attached to the box office but in fact to the response and support of the community, and from that perspective, it was a hit!

Pillsbury House is still enjoying the effects from the road weeps... It was a tremendous success for them especially from the perspective of developing audiences and exploring new ways of engaging their communities.

The University of South Florida is in their final stages of preparation for the last production of Gardley’s play. Storyteller Barbara Melendez describes the behind the scenes development of characters, costumes, staging, and directing. There is a storytelling component which will allow the local community to share their stories on race and identity.

In fact, each of the four venues were courageous and bold in this unprecedented approach to presenting theater. What they did share was a strong sense of community, shared commitment, and love of theater. There was tremendous respect for Gardley’s work, and Lark provided vital support not only financially, but artistically, and with that, a beautiful gem, a movement has begun. Lark Play Development Center is well known for their bold and broad presence in the American theatrical landscape and their deep commitment to playwrights.

On behalf of the artistic team at the Lark, we salute and thank you four pioneering theaters for mounting the production of the road weeps, the well runs dry. Each in your own unique fashion.

This bulletin was created to provide a forum to share conversations, observations and experiences that explore the issues of migration, identity and education. I thank the storytellers: Shannon Gibney, Barbara Melendez, Joanne Alcantara, and Fanny Garcia for continuously sharing your perspective on conversations, preparation and the production on the topic of race, migration, spirituality, history, and identity.

Launching New Plays into the Repertoire is an initiative of the Lark Play Development Center in which these four amazing theaters engaged their local communities and created an environment where audiences could discover a deeper meaning of how the history of indigenous groups intersects with that of African Americans. At the onset of this project three years ago, we really didn’t know the outcome, but one thing I know for sure is that the Road Weeps Bulletin has provided an opportunity to explore and share a collaboration that will be experienced for years to come.

Take a bow!

This entry was posted in From the Editor, Volume XI. Mar-April 2014. Bookmark the permalink.