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Since arriving in NYC three years ago, I have grown considerably as a professional theater artist. I am consistently working as an associate designer in the Off-Broadway community and as a designer in my own right. I have a solid network of collaborators, peers, and designers whom I regularly assist. The level of my productions is constantly moving forward, and I am taking on larger responsibilities with each new opportunity. The next step I must make is to hone my own design aesthetic with a team of artists with whom I can contribute openly, and consistently.
Upon exiting graduate school, I had the opportunity to observe Darron L. West during the rehearsal process of King Lear at the Public Theater. Watching that rehearsal was an eye-opening experience. I had never seen a designer who was so in tune with the director’s vision and the actors’ impulses, and I saw how both of those are affected by sound. Darron was able to easily converse in music, tone and texture, but also in staging, intention and choices. We spoke extensively about his work with SITI Company, and how it formed his process. I went on to assist Darron on several productions, both on and off Broadway. I knew that in order to achieve that level of collaboration, I needed to find a group with whom I could stretch my own abilities, feel secure enough to take risks, give my opinions boldly, and experiment. I needed collaborators who would push me to be a better designer, artist and human being.
I found that home in Blessed Unrest. Our collaboration to date has been immeasurable in my artistic growth. In our year together I’ve learned more about collaboration than I had in my years of formal training. I designed sound for Blessed Unrest’s bilingual international collaboration Doruntine, and their original devised piece BODY, which had a work-in-progress run at the Ice Factory Festival and will premiere this April. BODY is a collaborative piece which gives new meaning to the word ensemble for me. It relies heavily on mutual respect, awareness, and acceptance. Because much of the piece requires the performers to be nude, there is an inherent sense of vulnerability involved. Under the leadership of Jessica Burr, the ensemble created a piece that rose above any one writer, performer, director, or designer. Not only is sound a design element, but a character. I am able to drive the narrative by setting location and tone instantly. Text and movement are adapted to embrace the sonic characters I put forth. This is the first piece in which I truly feel like an equal member of the process. I am able to bring ideas to the whole group, and get an honest response from every artist in the room.
Blessed Unrest has asked me to design their next devised play based on The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson. In order to fully immerse myself in the process, I need to spend as much time as possible in the rehearsal room through the entire process of development. A fellowship from the Princess Grace Foundation would allow me to be an active member in the conception of a new play. Not only would we create a better product, but our relationship as collaborators would be solidified for many years to come.