NEW YORK CITY: HERE has announced four new members of the HERE Artist Residency Program (HARP). Family singing group The HawtPlates and performance collective Same As Sister will be in residence to develop new in-person performances, while artist and researcher Janani Balasubramanian and director and creative technologist Joshua William Gelb will create new work for the URHERE virtual platform.
HARP provides each hybrid artist with a commission, development support, career planning, and an opportunity for a full production, all within a collaborative environment of peers working across disparate art forms including theatre, dance, music, puppetry, visual art, and new media. Each HARP artist receives significant long-term support of $125,000, which includes $50,000 in cash and more than $75,000 in equipment, space, and services over two to three years to tailor each residency to each artist’s individual needs. URHERE HARP residents Balasubramanian and Gelb will receive $50,000 ($25,000 in cash and $25,000 in equipment, space and services) over one to two years.
“We are thrilled to welcome these four extraordinary artists into HERE’s community of innovators,” said founding artistic director Kristin Marting in a statement. “We are particularly excited to expand the HARP residency outside the walls of our theatres to continue pioneering new hybrid forms with artists creating work for our brand new URHERE platform.”
Created in 1999 to address a void of artistic, administrative, and financial support for artists with certain professional accomplishments, but without breakthrough recognition, HARP assists artists who are developing distinct voices and experimenting with new approaches that expand the parameters of performance. HARP seeks to nurture the development of seven to nine artists through a cross-disciplinary exchange, monthly meetings, peer-driven workshops, and panel discussions. Since HARP’s founding, HERE has supported the work and career development of 165 lead artists and hundreds of their collaborators.
The HawtPlates are a family singing group formed in a one-bedroom apartment in the Bronx. They create live vocal works by breaking down vernacular musical forms and reconstituting them into other modes of performance, producing sound tonics and “one pots,” harkening to the spirit of the family heirloom recipe. The HawtPlates have worked with numerous organizations and artists across disciplines, including Meshell Ndegeocello, Abigail DeVille, Kaneza Schaal, Hilton Als, Helga Davis, Steffani Jemison, Reggie “Regg Roc” Gray and The D.R.E.A.M. Ring, National Black Theater, the Public Theater, Performance Space New York, and Park Avenue Armory, among many others. The HawtPlates is comprised of Drama Desk-nominated composer/performer Justin Hicks; his sister, singer/songwriter Jade Hicks; and his wife, Tony-nominated actor/singer Kenita Miller-Hicks.
Dream Feed is an electro-acoustic song cycle that drops The HawtPlates and the audience into a dream sequence with all the humor, terror, beauty, and allure of the active mind within a slumbering body. The HawtPlates employ a vocabulary of gestures, lyrics, vocables, and exchanges to bring some of our most common shared dreams into collective view while playfully engaging the concept album as an interdisciplinary performance form.
Same As Sister (S.A.S.) is a NYC and Toronto-based performance collective led by twin choreographers Briana Brown-Tipley and Hilary Brown-Istrefi. Initiated in 2013 to make experimental narrative performance accessible to a diverse audience through collaborative and interdisciplinary practices, their commissions have been presented at the Citadel (Toronto); Base (Seattle); Archaeological Museum of Messenia (Greece); Danspace Project (NYC); CAMAC (France); BRIC Arts Media (NYC); and NYLA (NYC), among other venues. S.A.S.’s recent commission, This is NOT a Remount, was nominated for a 2022 Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Production (Dance). They are the recipients of a Foundation for Contemporary Arts’ 2022 and 2017 Emergency Grant (Dance); Queens Council on the Arts’ 2020 Queens Arts Fund New Work Grant (multi-discipline); and a New York Foundation for the Arts’ 2019 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship (choreography).
The interdisciplinary performance Upstairs, In Our Bedroom places Same As Sister’s experiences as female identical twins of color next to the real-life story of outsider authors June & Jennifer Gibbons (a.k.a. The Silent Twins). Using dance, text, mobile VR technology, and puppetry to reveal the dual struggles to be recognized as individuals within a pairing and within a racist and patriarchal society, the project is a collaboration with performer Peggy Piacenza, dramaturg Susan Mar Landau, VR specialist Lora Appel, and VR advisor Rachel da Silveira Gorman.
Janani Balasubramanian is an artist and researcher creating accessible, inviting, and beautiful portals to natural and computational worlds. They work in emerging media, installation, immersive performance, poetry, prose, conceptual art, and public art. Balasubramanian has received residency and commissioning support for their work from the Tow Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Sundance Institute, Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, NYFA, New York Community Trust, Jerome Foundation, CAST at MIT, and more. Their work has been presented at dozens of venues internationally, including the New York High Line, SF Exploratorium, Red Bull Arts, Academy of Natural Sciences, and Metropolitan Museum of Art. Balasubramanian is a member of the Guild of Future Architects, and has been the artist-in-residence in the brown dwarf astrophysics group at the American Museum of Natural History since 2017.
Based on the research of the brown dwarf astrophysics group at the American Museum of Natural History, Balasubramanian’s Rogue Objects is an operatic, immersive experience for planetaria exploring the emerging science of brown dwarfs, a lesser-known class of in-between celestial bodies, neither planets nor stars. Through animation of original and archival images, data from the new JWST and Gaia space telescope, and an operatic score built from sonified light curves of nearby brown dwarfs, Rogue Objects invites audiences into the wonderful life of these objects that abound and sing in the dark.
Joshua William Gelb is the director, performer, and creative technologist behind Theater in Quarantine, the Obie and Drama League Award-winning digital performance laboratory operating out of an East Village closet measuring only 8 square feet. Working with more than 100 collaborators and livestreaming dozens of productions to its YouTube Channel, TiQ has been featured on NPR’s All Things Considered, Japan’s NHK Television, and has been profiled in The New Yorker and The New York Times. Gelb holds a masters in directing from Marianne Weems’s Future Stages Program at Carnegie Mellon, has participated in the Lincoln Center Directors Lab, and prior to the pandemic created both Jazz Singer and The Black Crook in residence at Abrons Arts Center. TiQ’s full archive can be found and streamed any time.
With theatres reopened, Theater in Quarantine is in a period of reinvention, exploring dynamic new ways of using technology to reach hybrid audiences, and the company’s new project, created in collaboration with composer Orion Johnstone, will be its most palpable expression of intimacy yet. Imposing the strictest limitations on its own work to date, this study of microscopic self-exposure will be performed from a version of the original closet scaled down to a mere 32 inches wide by 18 inches tall.
HERE is an Off-Off-Broadway theatre founded in 1993 with a mission to build an inclusive community that nurtures artists of all backgrounds as they disrupt conventional expectations to create innovative performances in theatre, dance, music, puppetry, media, and visual art.
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