Sometimes all that’s needed is a fresh pair of eyes to produce a new opinion or add the final touch to a time consuming project, something two St. Thomas University students decided to do with their art pieces.
A Night of Emerging Artists was co-produced by Naomi McGowan and Dustyn Forbes to give themselves and others an opportunity to showcase and receive feedback on their work-in-progress pieces.
Three different pieces were presented at the Black Box Theatre on March 15 that dealt with LGBTQ issues and sexual assault.
McGowan thought the most challenging part was the content.
“We’re all dealing with very sensitive issues so a lot of research and a lot of care and a lot of compassion had to go into doing that,” McGowan said. “It’s just approaching it in the safest way that we can.”
After the show, there was an audience talk-back and discussion. The producers took input from the the audience to perfect their pieces for final presentation.
Forbes said work-in-progress showings bring fresh eyes to the work.
“I think it’s super important, especially with work-in-progress showings like this, to allow the audience to give their feedback – just because the audience is never wrong.”
McGowan and Forbes both produced short pieces of physical theatre, a type of performance where physical movement is the primary method of storytelling and incorporates aspects such as breath, tapping and stepping.
McGowan’s was called “In the End, Nothing.” It showed small physical theatre scenes about the diversity of sexual assault victims and the importance around education and communication.
McGowan said her piece will be much different when she’s finished with it.
“Right now, we’re developing the physicality and we’re slowly pulling out characters in narrative but by next fall when it will be presented, there will be a full script that will include dialogue and monologue and a full play accompanied with physical theatre.”
Performer and STU student Sydney Hallet was in both McGowan and Forbes’ pieces. She fell in love with physical theatre and now it’s one of her passions.
“I grew up in a dance background and theatre background. It kind of melds the two in a new and different way,” said Hallet.
Forbes’ piece was called “Fortune in Our Eyes.” He performed in his own piece alongside Hallet. Forbes has been dancing with Hallet for the past seven years.
“I knew that if I just plopped her into a creation process of a month, she’d be OK with it,” Forbes said.
“And her and I both connect very well with the material.”
“Fortune in Our Eyes” came together with research from the local LGBTQ community and personal stories of the emotional trauma around coming to terms with sexuality while growing up in a religious household.
Forbes has been working intensely on this project for the past seven weeks.
“It’s good to get fresh eyes and get their own take, what they liked, what they didn’t like, what worked for them, what messages they perceived, as opposed to what we’re trying to give out,” Forbes said.
“It’s just a really good reality check.”