January 22, 2014

it happened. it was glorious.






                                                                                                photo credit: Isaac Harrell 






no exaggeration.














I have a lot to say. 

My biggest fear in life. honestly. 



is not getting to say



everything. 











And it doesnt mean I think I know everything. 


wow. I don't. 
but I learn so much when I stay very aware that
I do not know it all. 

in fact. I know the tiniest piece.  

_____________


but I think if we all tell our little tiny story. 

it turns into something really really big. 









listen. 


_________



I have been very quiet on here lately because I have been working very hard on a big show.

I have never been off the map for so long. but while I was gone. I swear to you.





I did some of the best work.

I have ever done.













and what I mean is that... I work with extremely talented and ambitious people.

and what I mean is that... I did as much as I could. and tried my best.

and what I mean is that... I worked until my arms were tired. literally. exhausted physically.



and also.
I teach some of the most amazing students there ever were.



Photo Credit: Tom Topinka



 Photo Credit- Dean Whitbeck


 Photo Credit- Dean Whitbeck




 Photo Credit- Dean Whitbeck


 Photo Credit- Dean Whitbeck





 Photo Credit- Dean Whitbeck


______________________________________________________________________


and work with some of the best teachers.



Photo Credit- Dean Whitbeck




                                                                  Photo Credit- Dean Whitbeck







                             
 Photo Credits- Dean Whitbeck
   


 
 Photo Credit- Dean Whitbeck


 Photo Credit: Tom Topinka


 Photo Credit: Tom Topinka



Photo Credit: Tom Topinka


  Photo Credit- Dean Whitbeck



  Photo Credit- Dean Whitbeck


  Photo Credit- Dean Whitbeck


  Photo Credit- Dean Whitbeck



 Photo Credit- Dean Whitbeck



 Photo Credit- Dean Whitbeck


_________________________________



I am part of a group of FANTASTIC CREATIVE SOULS.




four of MANY.





We made a show.

so many of us.



This is the second LIVE ART show. ever.








WHAT IS LIVE ART?


(also thats live as in rhymes with hive)

LIVE ART is a groundbreaking new educational program for students of all abilities (with and without disabilities), culminating in a major public concert featuring these students and prominent headlining musicians. 

As a unique, multi-disciplinary, inclusive educational program, LIVE ART is building relationships among arts organizations, educators and artists to expand arts opportunities for students with developmental disabilities and typically developing students alike. LIVE ART is at the leading edge of arts education, integrating performing arts curriculum with special education to create a major performance event.  


____________



The first show was created and produced in such a windstorm of love and support that we were able to dream again. bigger.








always bigger.


Erin Thomas-Foley. 
is the director. ( and creator ) of LIVE ART. 

She has a big heart. and thinks wildly. 

she has ideas. and she has friends. and so. she can do things. 




Last year, the educational program was followed by a documentary film crew as it culminated in a large scale production.

and that full length film is in the later stages of editing. It will be finished this year.




_______________________


The big dream is to clearly state the message that 
all people are valuable. 
the arts are powerful. 
and community is necessary.
__________________________________



There is no half-way with this program.
No settling.
 There is such a commitment to the vision and the opportunity.
That we go for it.

This time:








This time. The show was at the LANDMARK THEATER in Richmond, Virginia.

The Landmark Theater is 
big.


we sold out.






 There was a through line in the show this year.

We had parables... performed by puppets.

parables that illustrated the times in life when your heart feels.... the most.



Which meant a cast of puppets.

Which meant.


!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!















and. I'm the luckiest person in the world. 



Because I am the Art Director for this program. 





See, Live Art is my favorite thing. 


Because I love people.
 I am passionate about special needs. 
and the power of theater. of art. of all of it.


and Live Art is ambitious and bold. 
The performance is important. 
and it has a strong heartbeat. 




I have said it before, but I walked in SPARC's front door just in time. before it all started. 

_______________________________________________________________________


Live Art is that thing that people tell you - YOU WILL FIND IT... keep trying. someday it will all make sense. 

for me. LIVE ART... is THAT thing. 


when your heart beats fast because you are where you should be. 
where you are meant to be. 
and where the things you have experienced... prepared you for.


____________________________________________________________________




I get to make LIVE ART look how it feels



 Tree of Life was easy. 
It looks like this.





and the team... they make it happen. 


Photo Credit: Tom Topinka



There are so many hands on deck that I cannot list everyone accurately. 


wait. I can show this---here is the production page from the program. 






Which is the most fascinating part to me- how much people know in their area... how much they know so that they can work with other people... who also know a lot. 

and then. 





big happens. 




______________________________________









because working in a studio can be great. but bringing that work out of the studio.
can be overwhelmingly.
great.






May Lou.
















first day with their first puppet.




second nature.















the boy. 




























the old man.



he may be my favorite puppet I have ever made.




because no matter who you are. 


you know him.














see, look.
I am constantly reminded that I am small.


thats why teams are good.

they give us a wider reach.








and they threw the posters out of the theater door. where they were swept up by wind. and landed

everywhere.














________________________________


PSSSST. more puppets.




Blue. the young man. 





I carved all of the puppets from a giant block of styrofoam that made its way from the John Adams movie set into my little studio. 


















puppets. waiting for puppets.




The woman.












Mornings in my charming town make work... happy.




















Ruby. 

on her way somewhere.





and. The Bird. 






























___________________________________________________


and oh. those 
puppeteers.


who performed beautifully and with focus. learning every day. 


_____________________________________________________






























It isn't easy figuring out how to make it look effortless. how to give a puppet life. and how to work so seamlessly as a team.

It was hard on their bodies.

and it was all very new.





To say they did a remarkable job is an understatement.




and. they are a blast to work with. hilarious.






































(caught her holding the puppet like this while waiting. I really liked it.)







____________________________________________________





__________________





Also, things I see along the way. and have to share. 

because when else are these pictures slightly relevant...




 










_________________________________

and more Live Art classes.

so many.

really fulfilling classes.

__________________________________

If I could do only one thing with Live Art I would always choose to know the kids. 
and teach. 

By far. 

This is my favorite part.
They. are my favorite part.
and why I am so passionate about this specific show.
I love going to work.
__________________________________




Photo Credit: Dean Whitbeck



Live Art Classes...
















where the students. often teach.






and being kind. is cool.



 Photo Credit- Dean Whitbeck








 Photo Credit- Dean Whitbeck


Where we try new things.



A Deaf student's illustration of music.



Photo Credit: Andrew Wallen Scott



Photo Credit: Dean Whitbeck



Photo Credit: Dean Whitbeck



 Photo Credit: Dean Whitbeck


And we have high expectations. 






Photo Credits: Dean Whitbeck



and we celebrate each other. 




Photo Credit: Andrew Wallen Scott




Where you leave inspired 
and loved.




Photo Credit: Andrew Wallen Scott


and with a stronger creative voice.



Photo Credit: Andrew Wallen Scott




Watching students build confidence. 

and character. 




Photo Credit: Dean Whitbeck


is a dream job.


___________________________________________________________________
_________________________________

Chapter- 23. The Tree. 


also known as - A big. magical set.


If I were writing a book. about Live Art. it would be a million chapters. so. this would maybe be the twenty third. 

and someone would probably ask me to control my punctuation. 

And I would say. 

I am. 


...............................


Carrying on


Production: 

Live Art production meetings are exciting because there are a ton of ideas.

but mostly, because, if you are me.

you look around and say. HOW DID I GET HERE.

and also. YES.

I say yes sometimes before I know how.



and then I sure as heck will figure it out later.

......


Because trust beats fear.










The Tree of Life needed to grow out of the stage.

with a canopy of leaves that covered our students.





_____________________________________________________________











I drank a lot of coffee.








































The master of building - Alan Williamson. 

I never take it for granted that I am able to watch and soak up other people's knowledge. 












Sometimes I like to remember how it feels to be in a space like this. 


A secret space no one knows about yet. Where I am swallowed up in art that is much bigger than I am.







And. I also painted a block of a main road.










The set was a carefully built puzzle... in a million parts.

Until we could get in the theater.









The Tree. 



















and the canopy.  


I knew it was big, but seeing it stretched out made me laugh out loud. alone. 










Drawing something in this scale. 

Honestly. It is a blast. and just. really cool. (being honest) 


I decided if you have to pick up a jog while holding charcoal
 in order to finish an entire line... something awesome must be happening. 

it feels that way at least.





and if you have to worry about painting yourself into a trap,

must be something great.































and the canopy flew in two parts. to envelope the stage.







And. the choral wall of roots.














Sometimes. I did this. 








filled. every. inch. of. space. 


Then

I attached the leaves that the students painted and cut out in class.

So that the canopy was full of their hard work.

They splattered. rolled. swept. sprayed. and dripped paint all over the leaves.

And cut the leaves out.








So. Many. Leaves. 

thank you to VCU's ASPIRE program for helping to cut. 













___________________________________________________________



And while the journey is the rich part. 





There is a lot to be said for the grand production. 

and what that does for every little soul involved. 


That is where faith and trust come into play.

and where magic is made. 

______

That is where expectations are climbed on. 



so students can LEAP.




___________________________________________________________





                                                                                                photo credit: Isaac Harrell


 
Photo Credit: Tom Topinka






















Photo Credit: Tom Topinka 



Photo Credit: Tom Topinka 




Photo Credit: Tom Topinka


the good kind of exhausting




Photo Credit: Tom Topinka


They let go. and it is a joy to watch. 

and an honor to be around.




 Photo Credit: Tom Topinka


I love this picture.

because they move each other.





  Photo Credit: Tom Topinka




 Photo Credit: Tom Topinka

My heart.



Photo Credit: P. Kevin Morley (Richmond Times Dispatch) 


Probably one of the neatest things to ever happen. 

Richard Jenkins came and rehearsed with our puppeteer ensemble. 

and read our parables. as our narrator. 

__________


When he read the first one at rehearsal. I cried. 

Never dreamed. 

_____________


He elevated the work. 

It was an honor to work with him. 


On day one, one of our students ran directly up to him before we realized it. 

with a painting that said 

LIVE ART loves RICHARD. 

he looked at it. 





looked up. 





and said. 


Well. This is worth the flight.

___________




Our kids also get to perform with amazing musicians.

It is such a gift.

Some are pictured below.




Photo Credit: P. Kevin Morley (Richmond Times Dispatch) 


 Robbin Thompson, Daniel Clarke, Raining Jane, Susan Greenbaum




Photo Credit: P. Kevin Morley (Richmond Times Dispatch) 


 Rene Marie



Photo Credit: P. Kevin Morley (Richmond Times Dispatch) 


k.d. lang,  Jason Mraz,  Christina Perri,  Jesse Harper




Some of the musicians come into rehearsals knowing a little about the show.
But inevitably they connect with it quickly.

and watching them love and support the students is the best part.

                                                                                                                            



photo credit: Isaac Harrell





photo credit: Isaac Harrell



                                                                         photo credit: Isaac Harrell





                                                                        photo credit: Isaac Harrell




                                                                         photo credit: Isaac Harrell




photo credit: Isaac Harrell




Photo Credit: P. Kevin Morley (Richmond Times Dispatch) 




photo credit: Isaac Harrell

quiet moment where the little boy sits stage left while students dance to Hallelujah


Photo Credit: P. Kevin Morley (Richmond Times Dispatch) 


sung by k.d. lang


photo credit: Isaac Harrell


photo credit: Isaac Harrell



photo credit: Isaac Harrell



photo credit: Isaac Harrell




photo credit: Isaac Harrell




                                                                                                 photo credit: Isaac Harrell



     photo credit: Isaac Harrell




photo credit: Isaac Harrell



photo credit: Isaac Harrell




it's the backstage that matters the most. 
it's the very best part. 

_________________________________________________________________



  photo credit: Isaac Harrell



photo credit: Isaac Harrell




                                                                        photo credit: Isaac Harrell

Spot on guys. Spot on. So proud of their focus.






Photo Credit: P. Kevin Morley (Richmond Times Dispatch) 

_____________________________________

And.

A tree grew from the stage. 
and the canopy flew in.

_______________________________________













photo credit: Isaac Harrell






photo credit: Andrew Wallen Scott


 photo credit: Andrew Wallen Scott




photo credit: Isaac Harrell



photo credit: Isaac Harrell



Photo Credit: Andrew Wallen Scott

(stage manager's perspective.)



photo credit: Isaac Harrell




photo credit: Isaac Harrell




photo credit: Isaac Harrell



I am so proud of everyone. I could burst. 

Such a quiet little SCREAM from our end of the earth - 

LIVE ART. 

talk about it,  #LiveArtRVA



____________________________________________________________



I believe in opportunity.

Opportunity for everyone.

In loving every person.



When a child learns to express themselves,

when they realize that art isn't an extracurricular activity, but access to a voice.



that is when the life changing happens.

for that child.

for that person.



and all of those people who hear their voice.

..............




and these voices are worth hearing. 

They are smart. and caring. and brave. and observant. and creative. and honest. and



special.

________________________________________________________________






And the best part of the program.

That is simple. It is every class.


When a student says outloud.

This is so fun.

or.

This is hard.

or.

I have the best friends.

or.

Stand next to me.

_______________



When they are scared.

and the whole class stops to talk about it.


When they do a good job

and the whole class has a high five party because they earned it.


When they say bye to me over ten times.

because.


They don't want to walk out.



I love these guys.

and this family.






Good.






to my friends who came to the show. supported the program. and cried all over the theater. 
I love you. thank you. you have now seen my insides.



_________________________________________________________



For more information. or to support the future (and very present) LIVE ART: 


The program is free for the students. and supported by amazing people who hear about it. 
and believe in it.

________________


and keep your eyes peeled for the full length documentary film
that followed the first year of the program.


This program is so very important. The film will show you more of that.

________________


DID I SAY EVERYTHING? 

No. 

I am sure I didn't.

But please know this. Working with people who experience life differently. Have different talents. Think uniquely. Work hard to communicate. See the world in new ways. In deep ways.

It is beautiful. 

This program, the intimate classes. the grand scale of the production.
It affirms all the best things about life. 


________________________________________________________

LIVE ART 

it feels like home. it is safe. and it is wild. and it is good. so good.

________________________________________________________


Thank you, Erin.




 P.S. 


if you were not at the show in December.
you can still hear our Tree of Life message.



that when people seem to be gone.


they aren't completely.

in fact, they simply aren't at all.










___________________________________________________________



1 comment:

Bethany J said...

your blog makes my heart smile.

music