By Katie Lovett
---- — The Actors Studio in Newburyport is celebrating Women’s History Month with a special program that will incorporate music and dance — while taking the audience on a little walk around the building.
Cellist Kristen Miller and Fontaine Dubus, owner of Exit Dance Theatre, partnering with actor/director Marc Clopton, owner of the Actors Studio in the Tannery Marketplace, will present “Incarnation, A Performance in Motion” this weekend and next Friday and Saturday.
“This is a show where the audience will not be sitting in their seats staring at a stage watching people do stuff for an hour,” Miller wrote in an email. “The show travels. The audience travels. Sometimes the audience is looking down on the performance. At other times, because there are aerial dancers, they will be looking up. This is literal, but truly with each piece, perspectives shift.”
The performance tells the story of “Everywoman,” Clopton said, using dance, music and words. As the performance progresses, the audience will travel to various locations around the Tannery, beginning with the Actors Studio, through the hallway and ending at The Dance Place.
“I have written a series of new pieces that Fontaine and Exit Dance Theater are choreographing,” Miller added. The pieces use cello, loop box, delay pedal and spoken word. Sometimes, even the dancers are speaking. There is great overlap, and it is really fun to see. Marc has written some beautiful text to go in the show as well. There is a sort of story to follow in the performance, but so much of it is open to interpretation.”
Clopton, Dubus and Miller began working on the performance last fall. Each year, the theater marks Women’s History Month with several events. In addition to this piece, the theater is hosting a dance party on Saturday, March 30, featuring Girls’ Night Out Quartet.
“Like many institutions in our culture, men have had more opportunity, historically, than women,” Clopton wrote. “The theater is no different. So we wanted to focus on women and give female historical figures, actors, writers, musicians and visual artists the focus.”
For Miller, who proudly calls herself a “feminist,” marking Women’s History Month is important.
“It is not that I think women are superior to men, it is that we have work to do in order to bring true equality between the sexes. We got the vote less than 100 years ago,” she said. “That is unfathomable to me. I watch shows like ‘Half the Sky’ on PBS and I can’t believe that girls are sold into prostitution. I can’t believe we are still fighting as a nation about the birth control pill. And yet, all of this is true. That said, Fontaine and I both felt that we didn’t want to have a politicized, preachy show. We wanted to have a show about standing in our own power, about making that feeling contagious. Our goal with this show is for people to leave feeling like they are so glad to be alive, feeling that they have the power to have a beautiful, meaningful life.”
For the trio of friends, who has long admired each other’s work and sought to collaborate on a joint project, plans finally came together this year.
“Fontaine has always wanted to do a piece that takes advantage of the interesting theatrical aspects of the mill building, and she and Kristen have wanted to collaborate again since their last collaboration was so successful,” Clopton said. “As fate would have it, the music Kristen was composing and the lyrics and poetry she was writing lent themselves perfectly to Fontaine’s concept.”
IF YOU GO What: "Incarnation, A Performance in Motion, presented by cellist Kristen Miller, Exit Dance, and The Actors Studio When: Tomorrow and Saturday, March 15 and March 16, 8 p.m. Where: The Actors Studio of Newburyport, 50 Water St., The Tannery Mill 1, Suite 5, Newburyport How: $18 for adults, $15 for seniors and students. For reservation or more information, call 978-465-1229, or go online to www.newburyportacting.org.