FINALLY, a student run organization dedicated to showcasing glimpses into a creative process. Her name is Blank Space Workshop. Thank you Eli Rallo, Miss Artistic Director extraordinaire, for making this work possible.
“The point of Blank Space Workshop is not to produce finished work or full productions. Rather, we hope to provide a space for emerging projects, early drafts and young pieces of original theatre to grow and mature. Through the workshop process, the writer and director will collaborate with the actors to make changes to the piece and help it grow into itself. The staged readings will be an extension of this process—inviting more people into the conversation about the piece and its potential. Sometimes, we are so focused on our final product—Blank Space will allow all of us to take a deep breath and realize how lucky we are to have the space to focus on our process.”
This past weekend, Blank Space hosted a double feature evening comprised of two student works: “Fire + Ice” by Emily Russell and “Exhibits from the Zoo” by Matt Harmon. In between works, audience members were encouraged to pick up a feedback card and participate in the creative process by positing initial thoughts, lasting impressions, likes and dislikes, criticisms and interpretations.
My very good friend and I put our heads together and came up with the following.
“Fire + Ice” was a short, poignant piece built around a conversation between an American girl and Icelandic guy while in a scenic geotherm, a typical place for solitude in Iceland. The calm, yet emotionally charged dialogue served to comment on how the American way differs vastly from other thought practices. The harsh encompassing ideals are so much so that citizens need to leave the country to find themselves, as if their whole self is not welcome in the “US regime.” Juxtaposed with self-sustaining, nature-focused Icelandic culture, a hidden examination of human nature was revealed.
“Exhibits in the Zoo,” an award winning student piece, was unique in that the main character was mute. All the actors and actresses involved were challenged to maintain the same level of complexity that is achieved by dialogue through other modes of communication. Content-wise, in short: a beautiful story of a boy in the wrong place, at the wrong time.
I’ll be the first to recognize that art, all too commonly, exists in a pretentious context. How could it not with the endless auditions, required professional training, nights rehearsing, hot stage lights, looming expectations, and almost enforced hipster aesthetic. Art is elevated: put on a pedestal by all the great artists that have come before and before. The pressure of contributing to that “name,” to be given the opportunity to create something considered “art” is a tall enough order for someone who truly respects art.
This new organization does the hard work of making art less scary, and more accessible by illuminating what is normally in the dark—behind the scenes work makes a debut on the main stage.
If you’re curious about getting to know Blank Space Workshop more, visit https://blankspacewsumich.com or @blankspacews on social media platforms.
Upcoming show in late March:
“Horns” by Sara Pendergast, directed by Isabel Olson. Walgreen Drama Center. Free admission. Go check it out and support process.
(Image credit: Google Images)