Making new art, supporting community in the ‘Rose Exposed: Home’

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For six enterprising small performing arts companies, the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center in downtown Salt Lake City is more than a residence for their creative work. It is the home for experimentation in humanity. It is the place for creating and performing new works of art. As Daniel Siepmann wrote recently at NewMusicBox, “Newness is confrontational, newness is the unexpected variable, newness celebrates dynamic, living places: we stumble across new art, often unexpectedly, and discover parts of ourselves yet unknown.”

The Rose ExposedOn August 23, each of the resident companies, through music, dance and theater, will spend the daytime hours creating new work based on the concept of ‘home’ before premiering them at 8 p.m., as part of ‘Rose Exposed: Home.’ Most appropriately, the entire proceeds from ticket sales (at $25 apiece) will benefit The Road Home, an SLC organization that serves more than 7,000 people annually who are homeless.

However, members of the community will not have to wait until the evening performance to see how each of the companies – Gina Bachauer International Piano Foundation, Plan-B Theatre, Pygmalion Theatre Company, Repertory Dance Theatre, Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company and SB Dance – cast the thematic idea of home in its specific artistic skills and talents. Beginning at noon, people can stop by the Rose Wagner whenever during the afternoon and watch the creative process unfold, free of charge. Each organization will have an hour of rehearsal time in the Jeanne Wagner Theatre, ending at 6 p.m.

Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center. Photo by Doug Barnes.
Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center. Photo by Doug Barnes.

In fact, community members also are being asked to share through the event’s Facebook page their own ideas and perceptions about home, whether it is a video, an image, a poem, an article, a song or any other creative artifact. The six resident companies will begin reviewing the open submissions on Aug. 19 and decide which postings are best suited to their performing arts talents.

Gina Bachauer International Piano Foundation. Photo by David Horton.
Gina Bachauer International Piano Foundation. Photo by David Horton.

Unlike previous renditions of ‘Rose Exposed,’ this year’s offering brings the center’s resident companies into a tighter collaboration. “Until Rose Exposed, the six resident organizations of the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center knew and respected each other, worked together on common issues, yet never collaborated artistically,” Stephen Brown of SB Dance explains. “We were like friendly next-door neighbors who never carved out the time to sit down and chat. So, in the beginning, the Rose Exposed was meant as a neighborhood celebration.”

Plan-B Theatre Company, Aaron Swenson as Hedwig. Photo by Rick Pollock.
Plan-B Theatre Company, Aaron Swenson as Hedwig. Photo by Rick Pollock.

As for supporting The Road Home, which coordinates temporary and permanent housing for individuals, Brown says creating art based on the organization’s mission is a “pretty cool way to process a segment of our neighborhood that is often ignored and misunderstood.” In future years, the companies will also look to creating art based on the missions of other community organizations.

Linda Smith of the Repertory Dance Theatre echoes Brown’s comments, adding that the resident companies demonstrate consistently how much as artists and performers, they “care deeply about the health and well-being of individuals, neighborhoods and the environment.” She further explains how the connection between community and the arts can be fortified. “The organizations that call the Rose Wagner ‘home,’ she says, “also call this area in downtown Salt Lake City our neighborhood. We are connected to all of our ‘neighbors.’ We care about the people who live here and want to provide meaningful activities for the community that we serve.”

Repertory Dance Theatre, Tyler Orcutt. Photo by Nathan Sweet.
Repertory Dance Theatre, Tyler Orcutt. Photo by Nathan Sweet.

Likewise, the opportunity for awareness is not just for the community’s benefit but also for each company’s perspective of seeing how a performing arts ‘neighbor’ approaches the creative process. “To garner support for the small companies is to garner support for art generally in the community,” Joanne Rowland of the Gina Bachauer International Piano Foundation, explains. “Getting to see each other’s creative process is a rare treat and invigorates all of us in the process.”

Pygmalion Theatre Company’s Fran Pruyn adds that, “it is so refreshing to sit in a conference room and listen to the ideas of tremendously creative individuals who express themselves either through much different art forms, or the through the same art form but differently. This year, we will all be using the same launching pad and where we land remains to be seen, but I am confident that it will be so much fun to be in the air at the same time with all these artists.”

Pygmalion Theatre Company, Daisy Blake. Photo by Rob Holman.
Pygmalion Theatre Company, Daisy Blake. Photo by Rob Holman.

Only 96 hours before the companies gather in the morning of the event’s scheduled day will the creative producers gain a clearer sense of what will drive the core of their new work. “It’s all a bit up in the air; we have a lot of information about the services The Road Home offers,” Plan-B Theatre Company’s Jerry Rapier says. “And, we each have a clear story about what having a home at the Rose Wagner means to our specific company. We also have strong feelings about what it means to be part of our neighborhood, what it means to be a good neighbor, what it means to be a good citizen, what it means to have a home to not only perform in, but create in.”

Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, Mary Lyn Graves. Photo by Stuart Ruckman.
Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, Mary Lyn Graves. Photo by Stuart Ruckman.

Rapier says anyone who has any “ideas, musings, thoughts, prayers and stories” about what home means individually can post on the event’s Facebook page until 9:30 a.m. on Aug. 19. The companies will meet then to decide about music and content and up until 9 a.m. on Aug. 23 when they convene at the Rose Wagner, “we’ll all be doing a lot of thinking about the meaning of home,” Rapier adds. The process, of course, will culminate in a series of six pieces no longer than ten minutes each, which will be presented that evening.

SB Dance, Christine Hasagawa. Photo by John Brandon.
SB Dance, Christine Hasagawa. Photo by John Brandon.

Opening the afternoon rehearsals to the public at no cost can be an effective way to make new or unfamiliar work understandable to the curious observer or listener, even if the individual has never attended a performance at the Rose Wagner. “When people come to the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center to see a performance, they usually just see the final product,” Daniel Charon of the Ririe-Woodbury Company explains. “We wanted to expose not only the spaces that are utilized to make art, but to let audiences into the creative process as well. This transparency of process can serve to empower the audience with tools and strategies by better understanding what goes on behind the scenes.”

Rapier says that the public can drop in and leave a rehearsal whenever it’s convenient. “They can spend 15 minutes or the entire afternoon,” he adds. The schedule starts at noon with Gina Bachauer International Piano Foundation, followed on the hour, respectively, by the Repertory Dance Theatre, Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, SB Dance, Plan-B Theatre Company and Pygmalion Theatre Company.

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Les Roka
I am a native of Toledo, Ohio, having received my Ph.D. in journalism and mass communication from Ohio University's Scripps School of Journalism in 2002. In addition to teaching at Utah State University and the University of Utah, I have worked extensively in public relations for a variety of organizations including a major metropolitan university, college of osteopathic medicine, and community college. When it comes to intellectual curiosity, I venture into as many areas as possible, whether it’s about music criticism, the history of journalism, the practice of public relations in a Web 2.0 world and the soon-to-arrive Web 3.0 landscape, or how public debates are formed about many issues especially in the political arena. As a Salt Lake City resident, I currently write and edit a blog called The Selective Echo that provides an entertaining, informative, and provocative look at Salt Lake City and its cosmopolitan best. I also have been the U.S. editorial advisor for an online publication Art Design Publicity based in The Netherlands. And, I use social media tools such as Twitter for blogging, networking with journalists and experts, and staying current on the latest trends in culture and news. I also have been a regular monthly contributor to a Utah business magazine, and I have recently conducted a variety of editing projects involving authors and researchers throughout the country and the world, including Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Lebanon, Cyprus, the United Kingdom, France, and Japan. I’m also a classically trained musician who spent more than 15 years in a string quartet, being involved in more than 400 performances.

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