INTRODUCTION TO THE PROJECT
The Quarry Project is a site specific dance/theatre piece being created for the Wells Lamson quarry, the oldest, deepest granite quarry in the country, now flooded and in “reserve”. Previously owned by Rock of Ages and now owned by Polycor, a Quebec corporation, the quarry is in the small village of Websterville whose residents’ relatives worked in the Wells Lamson.
In the spring of 2016, I began the process of securing permission to work in this extremely compelling and challenging site. During these eighteen months, while I negotiated with the corporation, I visited the site many times, alone and with my artistic partners (Leslie Anderson – costumes/set, Stefan Jacobs – lighting, Dave Severance – music, Laurel Jenkins – choreography, Lida Winfield – ensemble training and community relations, and Jesse Huffman – film). Often the conversations were about scale and how to achieve intimacy in a five- acre setting. As time passed, I kept returning to the feeling of awe and other-worldliness as my guide in the dreaming up of this piece, trusting that intimacy will be achieved.
In addition to discussions with my collaborators, planning meetings were held with people helping with flotation surfaces, educational aspects, town connections, and general organizing. In the areas unfamiliar to me but crucial to the permission and ultimate success of the piece, I enlisted a pro bono team of experts in the fields of law, insurance, and corporations. They guided me (and will continue to be available for the life of the project) through the tangle of rules and regulations.
While awaiting permission, I tested a 12×24’ prototype floating stage on a neighbor’s pond, inviting twelve dancers to spend a few hours discovering what kind of movements were successful on this surface that moved with them in unfamiliar ways. As we experimented, we spoke of water – how we originate from water, are made up of water/fluids, how strong a force it is for both sustenance and destruction, and all the feelings that arise around and in water.
Photo by Emily Boedecker
(Film contains no sound)
At the end of August, we spent a day on the quarry testing sound, lights, set elements and perspective. To finally be, after all this time, in this quarry, on the water surrounded by stone, to feel this project that had been such a strong, pulling force, becoming a reality was profoundly, overwhelmingly thrilling.
Andric Severance and Sofia Hirsch, with an assortment of instruments, spent three hours in the morning on the stage, moving about in the quarry, testing the sonic environment, and playing different musical ideas, while Dave Severance and I listened.
In the afternoon, Laurel Jenkins and Amy LePage, my choreographic partners, and Coulter Cluett, followed the same general pattern as the musicians, moving into all locations in the quarry while Leslie Anderson and I observed the set, colors, and body shapes/gestures/tempo.
Later, as the daylight faded, Amy and Laurel headed off on the stage again, into the lights that Stefan Jacobs had rigged on the east rim of the quarry. He and I were surprised and pleased at what was possible in this 350 x 700 foot majestic setting.
The Quarry Project is in three phases:
Phase One – Research and Testing – 2017
Phase Two – Creation and Development 2018
Phase Three – Refinement and Production
Performances are slated for end of August 2019
Photo by Julia Barstow
Filmed and edited by Michael Fisher
All donations are tax-deductible and go directly to supporting the creation and production of The Quarry Project.