Carly Bales and Maggie Villegas of EMP Collective Dish about GENESIS at The Fridge this Friday
The Baltimore-based group invited over 20 artists from DC, Baltimore, and beyond to respond to audio recordings of native american creation myths from the first book of Eduardo Galeano’s trilogy Memoria del Fuego. The result was a month long cross-city experimental collaboration that culminates this Friday in an evening of original live music, theatre, paintings, sculpture, and film.
We sat down with the show’s co-conspirators Carly Bales (EMP Artistic Director) and Maggie Villegas (EMP Producing Director) to learn a little more about the project.
PL: So what drew you to Galeano’s book?
MV: We were brought the piece by our friend Steven Krigel. He bought me the book and said “we should do a show about this” and I was just blown away. The stories are incredible and I knew we had to do it.
CB: That’s pretty much how all of our shows get started. “Wouldn’t it be cool if...”
MV: [Laughing] Pretty much. We say yes a lot.
PL: Can you tell us a little about the process and how the show came together?
CB: We’re experimenting with how we create our longer devised theatre shows. We’re always very enthusiastic about bringing diverse artists together to work in roles they hadn’t previously considered as creators. For example, for our last theatre show we paired our friend Amanda Burnham, a brilliant visual artist, up with a scenic designer to create the set. She flourished in the role and now considers it a new outlet for her work. It’s those unexpected translations of an artist’s work into new venues that we are interested in. So I thought, “Why not try this out in actually devising a new piece? Why not find inspiration not only in our source material but in the work of other local artists?” It’s interesting to see the elements of this project that speak to the individual artist and others that are more universal in these works.
MV: The stories in Galeano’s collection come from all over the map too. Sioux, Maya, Makiritare - It was really important for us to try and capture that sense of many voices. People’s histories, their mediums, and how their perspective affects the stories they tell - That’s the heart of oral traditions and storytelling. Collaborating with multiple artists was a very natural, organic way to capture that.
CB: The actual process was pretty loose and free-flowing. We sent out a call for artists and gave respondents a set of oral narratives from the book as recorded by local actors. Each artist chose a story to retell in their own medium. We all come together as a group online to share any artistic inspiration or logistical queries and have about four days to install in each space. I just wanted this process to be fun and spontaneous and inspiring. I think we’ve accomplished it so far so I can’t wait for DC.
PL: Do you see yourselves adapting this method for developing plays in the future?
MV: Definitely. It’s been a really inspiring process.
PL: What made you guys decide to bring this show to DC?
CB: Emma from The Fridge approached me about doing a show in August for Fresh Produce. We have been toying with this idea of creating more DC/Baltimore dialogues in both artistic communities. Working in both scenes, I feel the two are not mutually exclusive and have a lot to gain from each other professionally and creatively. This was the perfect opportunity to make it happen. I’m glad open up pipelines and get DC artists to Baltimore and vice versa for this show.
MV: We have run our space in Baltimore for about a year now and we collaborate pretty frequently with DC artists, actors, designers and directors. This is actually the second show we’ve done at the Fridge, our show (...and you’re just not good enough) was part of the first Fresh Produce Festival last February.
CB: Yeah, and we really just wanted to bring our weird selves back for a second helping. . . get it?! Okay, I’m done. [Laughs]
PL: And finally, what’s your favorite color?
CB: LIKE I EVEN NEED TO SAY.
MV: Is it wrong if I say blue?
EMP Collective’s Genesis opens this Friday at The Fridge. For more information on the collective, and their efforts to create new works and save lives visit www.empcollective.org.
Opening Reception & Performances
Friday, August 24: 7-10pm
$5 at the door
Friday, August 24-Saturday, August 25: 12-8pm
Sunday, August 26: 1-5pm
Short URL: http://bit.ly/REsb6k