Curtain is countable days away and I had my first nightmare about Opening Night involving missing costumes, flash floods and a large Dragon-Golden Lab hybrid…so it seems time to give some more insight into this project…get the buzz moving!
Long story short, “The Sky is Melting” follows 15 year old Alice Davies through her introduction into the new scene of 1970s drug culture.
“The Sky is Melting” has two fundamental purposes. The first was to explore the ways in which various types and mediums of performance influence one another and aide in the expression of an internal experience to the external world. The other was to promote discussion and critical thinking around the issue of addiction and drug use, specifically among young adults and teens.
Often, as audiences we visit specific museums or events to appreciate and experience specific forms of art; we go to the Met to see great visual art, to the ballet to see great movement or to Broadway to see great theater etc…what gets me excited and inspired is when we see these elements come together in a performance. I wanted to experiment with the mediums of music, theater and dance and see how they could work together, push one another and co-exist, specifically with the task of physically expressing an internal and mental experience for an audience. Because the piece follows a young girl through her initiation into/struggle with addiction, the challenge was to express these highs and lows in an interesting, honest and hopefully thought provoking manner.
With the original conception of this piece I was lucky enough to have the talents of numerous young choreographers and a talented composer. Each musical piece was composed specifically for the drug experience it represents in the show. My composer, Ben McFadden took my research about the physical and mental effects of the drug (including speed, heroine, LSD etc) and composed a piece of music which coincided with the characters’ experience while on that drug. The choreographers then listened to the music, considered the research and created a dance which not only expressed Alice’s journey but the physical nature of the drug as well. The result, in my opinion, was not only gorgeous movement pieces but an innovative way to explain the experience of a drug trip.
“The Sky is Melting” is a one woman show, but I wanted to find different ways to tell a story with one person on stage. The score of the piece has become it’s own character; Ben’s music truly drives the piece and adds an element of emotion and sincerity that could not have come from any other place. The Dances speak more articulately and loudly than any text I could have written and bring another voice to the main character, Alice. The voice overs allow the audience to see Alice before she entered this world of risk and beauty…the goal of this piece was never to be another “Just Say No” propaganda. This is one person’s story, and while it is important to me for several reasons, the most important thing I hope to get across is that addiction can happen to anyone and to various degrees. There is a a whole spectrum of addiction and infinite reasons for which one becomes addicted. As I said before, the other reason behind this piece was to change the way in which we discuss and consider addiction. Too often, again in my opinion, drug addiction is presented in a false light. Students are taught to fear drug dealers and just say “No”, blindly without any real consideration or understanding for their “beliefs”. Perhaps art is the last remaining forum where we can be honest and open about human experiences. Taking chances and risks doesn’t make you a bad person…Alice continually yearns to be loved, acknowledged, appreciated and included…none of which would ever mark someone as a “dead-beat” or “low-life”. I don’t really know how successful this piece is at provoking open discussion about drug addiction, but it is an honest attempt to show a different side to the issue of drug abuse: very few people want to admit that the girl next door could be a strung out junkie.
Being a 15 year old girl is hard..I can speak from experience. While there are dramatic and extreme moments in the piece, everything is founded in a very real and genuine place; the absolute need to find yourself and feel included.
I’m very excited to be doing this piece in the next few weeks…Amy is a brilliant director and is pushing me in ways which are challenging but necessary and refreshing. As an artist, I want to push myself and my audience. Come to Theater for the New City’s Dream Up Festival and see if I get there : )