One of the most common questions I get from applicants of the EDPP MFA is:
“What are alumni of your program doing today?”
To which I respond with, “Well…we don’t have any alumni yet…”
Being in the inaugural cohort of program, therefore, increases the pressure of knowing what I’m going to be doing next year. My cohort’s answers are the only foundation. Truth be told, I don’t know exactly what my life will look like next year. With devised theatre careers (or any performance careers, really), there’s a lot of not knowing. Fortunately, though, I have a bit of hope based on what the next few months will look like.
Today I can officially say that most of my cohort is going to Scotland for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
For the EDPP, there were two business class options that we could choose from: one in the spring surrounding The Third Mask (my previous entry about it can be found here), or one in the summer surrounding The Fringe. This is a summer course that entails two weeks of online instruction and two weeks in Edinburgh, meeting with the festival’s marketers, producers, and curators. Through Columbia’s colleagues at Rose Bruford College in the UK, we were put in touch with the wonderful folks who run Summerhall, the city’s “it” venue for professional physical theatre year-round. We were invited to submit a piece of theatre for the space, and we applied with my thesis show Wild Women and Richie Schiraldi’s Oneironauts, which means…
OUR WORK WILL PREMIERE AT THE BIGGEST ARTS FESTIVAL IN THE WORLD.
If you’re in the industry, you know how big of a deal this is. This is a chance for our work to be seen by international producers, companies, and audiences. It also makes sense that we should bring our European Devised Performance Practice journey full-circle! Should this relationship between the two colleges keep building, this is an invaluable opportunity for future cohorts.
After we decided to go for it, we realized that we couldn’t go under the name “Columbia College Chicago’s MFA Students.” We had to come up with a name for our theatre company, one that would encompass the questions that both of our shows ask. Something that involved darkness. A secret. Something that can be frightening when you’re alone in the woods, or it can offer a gift. With much deliberating and searching through thesauruses and quotes, we landed on The Whisper Theatre Collective.
Just like that, some puzzle pieces about the future started to come together. We created the company to have a way to bring our shows to The Fringe, but we thought, why stop there? If everyone in the Edinburgh company wanted to take part and responsibility, we would come into the world with six shows to offer. We already have the foundation of training with each other, and by operating as a collective we set ourselves up to work with other artists and still maintain autonomy over our own work. If we have to create a webpage, marketing content, and work as a professional ensemble, why not do it for real?
I can’t provide you with X, Y, and Z details about my future after August, but I do know that my ensemble and I are capable of making exciting devised theatre (not even including our international cohort members). We have the courage and confidence to apply for opportunities surrounding our skills, and the determination to follow through with the work that needs to be done. So far, we have applied for fiscal sponsorship through Fractured Atlas, are looking at spaces to be our artistic home after graduation, and we want to legitimize our company this fall.
If you’re interested in supporting us in our work, follow this link to our Facebook page! Check out our photos, videos, and our crowdfunding campaign!
And here’s a treat from the Wild Women themselves.