Early in the spring of 2019, I was invited by members of the Bare Portland theater collective to take part in a collaborative project that, if everything worked out as planned, would begin with the investigation of an abandoned storage unit and result in an original theatrical performance. In the months since—and in the company of some of the most compassionate, dedicated artists I’ve had the honor to work with—I have rolled around in the filth of an urban parking lot, cataloged the contents of dozens of vitamin bottles (none of which contained any vitamins), relearned the integers one through twelve both forward and back, memorized and promptly forgot the Greek alphabet, and in an intense few summer weeks, co-authored a 70-minute play.
As described on Bare Portland’s website:
Company member Tarra Bouchard conceived of the project, inspired by the congruences in her experience of housing insecurity growing up in Central Maine and anxieties about displacement and gentrification in her current home of Portland. Bare Portland company members scoured the city for a storage unit auction, looking to bid on a unit to serve as the impetus for our performance and installation. […] [Storage] is the culmination of our experiment. This March, our performance and installation will explore both The Unit and our voyeuristic impulses, ethical quandaries, and sociological questions that haunted us as we unpacked. It will also tell an entirely new story inspired by the stuff, composed by local writers and performed by a team of local performers. The final performance is directed by James Patefield, with an immersive installation by Dana Hopkins.
Being a part of such a massive cumulative effort has been by turns mystifying and exhilarating, inspiring and terrifying, and above all, humbling. No one person makes a production like this coalesce and succeed. It’s an accretion of effort that somehow is eminent from yet independent of all involved. I’m honored to be a part of what [STORAGE] has become.
Performances begin March 5th and run through March 21st, with tickets available for pre-order here. Because the audience is limited to 30 people per show, purchasing tickets in advance is strongly recommended.
In addition to all the people who helped unpack the storage unit and move/store its contents, who gave feedback and response throughout the process, who hosted various public aspects of the generative process (SPACE, the Apohadion Theater, and Sacred + Profane, among others), and the Kindling Fund for financial support, [STORAGE] could not exist without the following people: Kerry Anderson (Movement Choreographer), Sokvonny Chhouk (Project Documentarian & Videographer), Dana Hopkins (Production & Installation Designer), James Patefield (Director), and Meg Lynch, Mackenzie O’Connor, Mario Reyes-Roberge, and Maya Williams (Performers); Christina Richardson and Marissa Sophia Schneiderman (co-authors); Catherine Buxton (Production Manager), Katie Hunter (Stage Manager), and Zoe Levine-Sporer (Installation Assistant), with additional production support from JJ Peeler, Julianne Shea, Ella Mock, and Mnemosyne Heileman.