Clockwise, from top left: Paul Flores, Elizabeth Gjelten, Dr. Ayodele Nzinga, and Krista De Nio.
In the Triangle Lab, Cal Shakes’ research and development wing, we experiment with ways to bring together theaters, artists, and communities to ignite change. We believe that through deep collaboration, artists and community members can lift up each other’s work—starting conversation, sharing stories, bridging difference, and activating deeper civic participation.
Our Artist-Investigator Project asks artists to lead our investigation into what the performances of the future might look like, and help us discover what happens when the arts are more deeply integrated into community life.
We are delighted to announce this year’s four Artist-Investigators:
Paul Flores working with Causa Justa::Just Cause
Elizabeth Gjelten working DISH (Delivering Innovation in Supportive Housing)
Krista De Nio working with Berkeley Food and Housing
Dr. Ayodele Nzinga working with Green Life Project/Pathways 2 Resilience
In 2013, we invited ten artists into the inaugural round to conduct projects that investigated new locations for performance and new methods for community collaboration. You can read more about their projects here.
In the 2014 round of the Artist-Investigator program we will be creating partnerships between artists and non-profit organizations to investigate how the skills of theater artists can help address community issues.
Our Hypothesis: Theater artists have key skills that can be deployed outside the rehearsal room to help community organizations advance their missions
Our Desired Outcomes
1. Organizations can demonstrate specific impact from the project in a mission area they’ve identified.
2. This impact is possible with a relatively small budget ($5000) and investment of time by the artist (about 60 hours).
Four artists with experience in performance and community engagement were selected via an open call. Each artist will work with one organization to develop a project together. These small-budget projects will be conducted over the course of one year, and documented carefully so they can serve as models for future collaborations between our sectors. Projects will be driven by the needs of the partner organization and will identify what theatrical skills, techniques, and processes will be most useful to that organization. Projects may or may not include public or invited performances.
We’ve begun exploring what kinds of skills these artists might share with their partner organizations, although we don’t know what will arise from these specific collaborations. For example:
As expert storytellers , theater artists can work with staff, clients or other stakeholders to gather, shape and share relevant stories in dynamic and powerful ways. Stories – written, performed, or online – can animate public interest, influence key decision-makers, and activate public gatherings.
As skilled story coaches , theater artists can work with clients to find their own voices through training in writing and performance. Clients can be prepared to advocate for themselves by claiming the power of their own stories and taking charge of their own narratives.
As rehearsal experts, theater artists know how to rapidly try, discard, and reinvent solutions to problems we discover. Artists can work with staff to brainstorm new programming or to address places where discussion is stuck and work with clients to rehearse solutions to life problems.
As trained team-builders , theater artists can offer skill-building workshops in many areas such as team-building and meeting facilitation skills, public speaking, writing, etc.
As event producers, theater artists can help shape the structure and content of events, celebrations, demonstrations, and other public events, helping to make these events more powerful, enjoyable, and memorable.
We’re very excited to be working with these outstanding artists and this range of extraordinary non-profits. Watch this blog for more updates on this project throughout the year.