D-Generation: An Exaltation of Larks, is returning to Brattleboro's New England Youth Theatre, March 22 and 23 at 7:30 p.m. The performances are a preview for Sanglass Theater's national tour which will open at Theater Grottesco in Santa Fe, New Mexico, April 18-21.
Sanglass spent the month of January reworking the production with Director, Roberto Solomon. The reworking of the production and the development of the national tour was made possible by a National Theater Project grant, administered by the New England Foundation for the Arts, with lead funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
D-Generation is compelling, moving and humorous while treating the subject matter of advanced stage dementia with respect. It is a full-length theater piece based on stories written collaboratively by groups of people with late-stage dementia. The work is performed by three puppeteers, Eric Bass, Ines Zeller Bass, and Kirk Murphy who are the caregivers and five puppets who are the residents of a care-facility.
Eric Bass, Co-Artistic Director of Sandglass, recently spoke about the significance and importance of the reworking and the grant. "Reworking D-Generation was a delicate task, in that we didn't want to change anything fundamental, and yet, we wanted to answer some of the questions that the piece posed - perhaps not directly, but by implication. We needed to find the missing voices in certain moments, and give them presence. When we talk of voices, we don't necessarily mean words. We remain a theater that writes through images and movement, so those 'voices' might be a moment of stillness, or a moment of frenzy that were lacking in the rhythm of the piece. Someone who saw the piece last September might not feel a great difference now, but yet they might. Subtle changes can sometimes shift the balance of a work dramatically."
Sandglass is no stranger to touring our productions, but NTP grant enables us to develop new horizons. As Bass explained, "The National Theater Project award is one of the most significant recognitions Sandglass has ever received. It was very competitive. Winning it puts us in the company of some of the most interesting ensemble theater companies in the country. It brings us to the table of some discussions that get to the real substance of what kind of theater we want to make and why. In addition, the award will certainly help to open some doors for us, to make it possible for us to play in some parts of the country where we have never been.
The NTP grant also provides us with professional resources that are invaluable - experts in theater criticism, production, and booking that can really help Sandglass grow and help all of us in D-Generation expand as artists."
Set to a compelling original score by Paul Dedell and striking animated video segments by Michel Moyse, D-Generation takes us into a world that is all too much a part of our lives. It explores the rich creative potential and ability to communicate that exists in people with late-stage dementia. Their words, their images, and their creative imaginations, yield work that is poetic, humorous, and quite mysterious. The production is further enhanced by Sabrina Hamilton's lighting design, and sound by Finn Campman.
From these stories, Sandglass forms scenes of the inner life of the characters, and creates a piece that reflects both the stigma and the acceptance, the despair and the joy, that is equally present and possible, in both the person with dementia and in their caregivers and family members. The collected stories, which are associative and non-linear, were gathered by Sandglass's performers during 20 visits to care facilities, during which circles of people with dementia were guided through a collective story making method called TimeSlips (www.timeslips.org). These stories reveal a humor and playfulness, as well as the dark reality of the disease. They stand on their own as dramatic material from a remarkable source. These stories, combined with the compelling process of writing them, form the inspiration for D-Generation.
Tickets are $16 for the general public and $13 for students and seniors. They are available on line HERE, at Everyone's Books, 25 Elliot St., Brattleboro, or two hours before curtain at the New England Youth Theatre. You may also call to arrange purchasing tickets at the Sandglass office. Call in advance 802-387-4051 so that we can arrange a time to be there.