Canvassing the Campus
What's On Their Mind | October 24–November 6 | featuring Bryn Boice of Anthem Theatre Company PDF Print E-mail

Meet Boston Center For the Arts Performing Arts Resident Anthem Theatre Company

Anthem Theatre Company made their resident debut at the BCA in September with their production of The Dare Project, a collaborative venture where playwrights write plays based on audience dares. Anthem is back this month with a ghostly treat for all Twelfth Night of the Living Dead. Be sure to catch it in our Black Box Theatre October 27–November 5, 2016. We spoke with Anthem’s Artistic Director, Bryn Boice, to get to know this daring company!

Bryn Boice testing bite technique with Nicky Chuba (Orsino) and Erica Jade Simpson (Viola). Photo by Johnny Kinsman.

What can we expect to see during Twelfth Night of the Living Dead?

You can definitely expect to laugh; if you enjoy a fusion of high and low comedy, you will love this piece and this cast. I think you’ll be surprised at the adaptation, too, and how well this classic play works with Brian MacInnis Smallwood’s addition of camp and zombies. It’s actually all Shakespeare’s words, except one!

How long have you been working as a producer and director? How did you get into the business?

I’d say I started producing and directing in earnest about 10 years ago now, but have been acting for over 30. Yikes! I moved to New York after grad school (Acting) but realized that I was much more necessary as a director in my particular artistic circles, so I started getting my hands dirty then. In 2012 my husband, Michael Poignand, and I started Anthem Theatre Company with (also married) friends Johnny Kinsman and Lindsay McConchie. Shortly thereafter we moved the company to Boston. We were in favor of the vibrant arts scene here that wasn’t as saturated as NYC, but that was just as serious about it. I ended up getting my 2nd MFA in Directing at Boston University when we got here.

Julee Antonellis (Fabian) sliding out of a precarious situation with hungry zombies (Rebecca Schneebaum and Liam Callister). Photo by Johnny Kinsman.

In five words, describe your process.

Testing. Molding. Futzing.

What does a typical rehearsal week look like for you?

It’s funny, it really depends on the piece. I noticed that with Twelfth Night of the Living Dead, I really wanted to build the skeleton of the staging first, so we could then flesh it out with character, all of the zombie gags, the fights, the blood, the mayhem. What we’ve done since we staged looks like this: a run with notes, a night of fixing problem areas and scene work, then a night of fights and bites with our violence designer, Matt Dray, then another two days to work scenes. Then we start all over, refining as we go. (Testing, molding, futzing!) With another play, we might still be at the table discovering who these characters are. The process would be completely different!


What has been most beneficial to you during your time at the BCA?

The staff is always there to answer questions, and the facilities are excellent, but the best part of being at the BCA is how familiar this city is with the campus. All we have to say is, “We're a resident performing arts company at the BCA,” and that is uniformly recognized as cool company to be in.

Which person living or dead, do you most admire?

Prince. While he was alive, he was able to live and breathe his art (himself) without compromise or apology. I admire that tenacity, unwavering work ethic, and self-confidence. (But see also: Mom! Husband!)

What's On Their Mind | September 26 - October 9 | featuring Lane Gifford and Yang Jiemin PDF Print E-mail

Get to know Lane Gifford of LaneCoArts and visual artist Yang Jiemin

LaneCoArts and Yang Jiemin collaborate in the upcoming Searching for a Phase Change, in Mills Gallery Saturday October 1 and Sunday October 2. This special Artweek session of Run of the Mills explores the concept of contemporary communication. Click here to get your tickets.

What can we expect to see during Searching for a Phase Change?

Lane Gifford: As an artist I wish to ask questions that are relevant and meaningful for audience members today because when I create new works, I enter into a dialogue with the viewers. The subject of a phase change intrigues me and therefore I wish to enter into a discussion with our audience through a kaleidoscope of imagery from movement to a visual art component provided by Yang Jiemin, sound, video projection and dramatic content. We will take risks. This weaving together of parts is a challenging endeavor but as with a phase change, new results occur from the integrative process and it is that creative adventure we hope to share with our Boston viewers.

Yang Jiemin: It will be an unexpected dialogue of text, voice, sound, and movement, the result of which I can not predict either.

What drew you to work on this project with the BCA?

YJ: Phase changes are really interesting natural phenomena to me. I am fascinated with the idea that our society also goes through similar phase changes at different periods of time, and these changes can change everything fundamentally. And I love dance and am a movement artist as well. I was curious how Lane would develop the theme contained in this project combining both visual and movement elements.

LG: The primary aspect of this project with the BCA that captured my imagination was the concentration on process. LaneCoArts will use the time at the Mills Gallery to experiment. This is the beauty of the time we will spend there. It will allow us to explore one idea in a compelling space.

photo by Eric Bandiero
Photo by Eric Bandiero

How long have you been working as an artist? How did you get into the business?

YJ: I was interested in art when I was a kid. I finally had the chance to study art in college, and I found myself enjoying putting ideas together and transform them into something visual that stimulates people’s perceptions, emotions, and mind.

In five words, describe your process.

LG: Exploratory, highly collaborative, concept driven.

YJ: Follow the impulse and intuition.

How has the BCA helped you in your practice?

LG: The BCA has been invaluable in my practice because it has offered LaneCoArts, both creative and performance opportunities throughout two prior residencies in 2012 and 2015. In both occasions I was able to flesh out new ideas, sculpt and construct new works. This kind of support is essential for me as developing artist and I am grateful for this upcoming time we will spend at the Mills Gallery. The space in the gallery is extremely interesting for this kind of exploratory work and lends itself to creative thinking and problem solving.

What artists inspire you?

LG: Steven Hoggett, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Wes Anderson.

YJ: I am inspired by many different visual and dance artists who have given me strong visual impressions, including Amagatsu Ushio, Shen Wei, Jiří Kylián, Yayoi Kusama, Claude Monet.

What's On Their Mind | August 29 - September 11 | featuring Brother Cleve PDF Print E-mail

Local cocktail legend Brother Cleve joins our expert panel of judges at the Movers & Shakers Cocktail Competition in the BCA’s Cyclorama on September 28 from 7–9:30pm. Sample along with Cleve as twenty of the best restaurants in Boston compete to craft a cocktail (and a tasty food pairing) worthy of being called a work of art.

Click here to get your TICKETS to Movers & Shakers before they sell out!

Where does your passion for cocktails come from? How long have you been writing about cocktails?

Growing up in the 1960’s, cocktails always started off special occasions in my family, and I got my “Roy Rogers” cocktail so as to not feel left out. As a young punk rocker in the 70’s, I drank Manhattans and Old Fashioneds in dive bar rock clubs like The Rat; by the 80’s I was collecting and studying vintage cocktail books. I got my first bartending job in 1988 and started making Pre-Prohibition cocktails for the public…though most people preferred drinks like Sex On The Beach and Mudslides at the time. That all began to change by the mid-90’s, when I started to really lead the charge. I’ve been blessed to have spent 30 years traveling around the world as a musician and DJ, trying every local spirit along the way. I find the alchemy of creating cocktails fascinating.

What’s the most surprising combination of flavors/liquors you’ve encountered? Something that shouldn’t make sense but when you drank it, it was exceptional?

There is a book which was published in 1952 titled Bottom's Up, which contained a recipe for an obscure drink from the 1920’s called The Last Word—Gin, Maraschino Liqueur, Green Chartreuse, and lime juice. It just sounded terrible when I first read it 25 years ago. But it turned out it all works amazingly well! Modern bartenders discovered in in the last decade and now it’s well known as a classic drink!

At Movers & Shakers one of the categories is pairing, best pairing of cocktail and food. What’s the best pairing of food and cocktail that you’ve experienced? What will you be looking for when it comes to pairing?

You know it when you taste it! My education goes back decades to classic Steak Houses featuring Manhattans alongside Filet Mignon, or drinking Vermouth with Tapas in Spain, Negronis with antipasto in Italy. Just as with wine, you want flavors that not only enhance and compliment each other but also balance them out, so one doesn’t overwhelm the other. Pairing cocktails with food courses is a recent development, since traditionally cocktails were served as an appetite stimulant before dinner. But it’s great fun to play around with the plethora of flavor profiles found in the worlds of both spirits and food.

What book, movie, exhibition, play, dance would you recommend to a friend?

I spend the bulk of my days in my lab mixing up new cocktails for BNEG (Red Lantern, Empire) and clients like Jägermeister and Red Bull, or on the turntables in my studio mixing records (check out my mixes at Wish I had more time to enjoy other things! But everyone who enjoys cocktails should have David Wondrich’s Imbibe and Jeff “Beachbum” Berry's Potions Of The Caribbean in their libraries. And I can’t wait to read Robert Simonson's A Proper Drink, the history of the cocktail revival, due out in September.

What drew you to supporting the work of the BCA? What excites you about the organization?

I’ve worked at over 100 events at the BCA/Cyclorama since its early days in the 1970’s, it’s a fantastic organization and a beautiful space to do events in. My favorite residency, of course, is “The Art of the Cocktail”!

What's On Their Mind | August 2 - August 14 | featuring Georgina Lewis PDF Print E-mail

untitled from the series spitting across an ocean
untitled from the series spitting across an ocean. Photo courtesy of the artist.

How long have you been working as an artist? How did you get into the business?

This is a tough one but I guess you could say about 15 years. But I think a lot of my work and interests are rooted in my childhood: my mom was a linguist and my dad was a philosopher who also liked photography. It took seeing Nan Goldin present her slideshow to start bringing it all together, to see how I could start to insert myself into the act of making.

In five words, describe your process.

Research, computers, write, make, instinct.

What does a typical workweek look like for you?

I’m a multitasker and I generally deal in small increments of time. Weekdays are usually pretty hectic but I squeeze in work on my art where I can. Sometimes I shoot photos on my lunch break or write notes on my iPhone while I’m walking down the street. Nights and weekends are my studio times. They’re when I get to retreat from my fractured world. The studio is where it all comes together. It’s like going into some other dimension where time stretches and I can focus. Currently I’m doing a lot of photography and image processing in Photoshop and I’m always moving prints around on my studio walls; exploring spatial and temporal relationships.

Photo courtesy of the artist.

What was your first rejection?

Discounting the curatorial position at Harvard that I didn’t get when I was 23 (!) I’d say my initial rejection from art school. I didn’t really have a portfolio I just knew I needed to be an artist. Luckily I kept going and applied again several years later. I guess I had a lesson to learn about desire vs. demonstration; how you show what’s inside of you to the world.

Why do you choose to make the BCA your artistic home?

When I was an undergrad at the Museum School looking for challenge and provocation in the Boston art world I found it at the Mills Gallery. During grad school I volunteered at the Mills and only then discovered the artist studios. Perfect! I love my studio, my wonderful artist colleagues, and the supportive and smart staff of the BCA. And the programming is still great. The BCA provides both a place that pulls me out of myself with lectures and shows and also a locus of contemplation and production (my studio).

What's On Their Mind | July 18 - July 31 | featuring Chanel Thervil PDF Print E-mail

Chanel Thervil, photo by Joyce Taihei
Photo by Joyce Taihei

How long have you been working as an artist? How did you get into the business?

I’ve been an artist since I developed the fine motor skills to hold a crayon as a toddler. But, I would say that I’ve been working as an artist on a more professional level than crayon usage since 2009. After a while it just became clear that my passion for art wouldn’t let me get fully invested in much else. I was blessed to stumble into classrooms and work environments where my colleagues encouraged my inquiry in shaping a career around the intersections of art, culture, teaching, and community.

What can we expect to see or experience during Emergence: What does hope look like?

Lots of color! And hopefully the tender love and care generated by conversations with those who dare to hope and seek to activate it in spite of uncertainty.

What was the inspiration behind the project?

I was (and still am) one of those people who doodles a lot. I’m a multi-tasker and I always need to be doing something with my hands. Through grad school especially, doodling during lectures helped me to retain information I didn’t want to forget. I was really interested in seeing how I could push that idea and make the process less one sided. What would happen if my drawings became the goal of an exchange rather than a byproduct of absorption? Also as an educator, I have an innate interest in navigating the thoughts of different people and trying to find a common ground. Hope or the lack of it, is something anyone can relate to as the authority of their own lived experience.

What drew you to work on this project as part of the BCA’s Public Art Residency?

I was really excited when a colleague sent the call for this my way because I have never done artwork that was meant to be outdoors before and I wanted to challenge myself. The added bonus was the community component because I have been trying to find more ways to infuse that into my practice. So it seemed like a win win.

If you were not an artist, what would you be?

If I was way more bold, I would love to be an actor. I like the idea of transforming yourself to tell someone else’s story. Plus, do you see those gowns they wear at award shows?! What’s not to love?

Click here to learn more about Emergence: What does hope look like?

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