The Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts at UNCSA, in partnership with the Hispanic League, presents a residency with The Frontera Project — an interactive, multilingual theater experience created and performed by a company of Mexican and U.S. artists — including both a free public performance on Oct. 3 and student workshops.
The multilingual performance will fuse theater, movement and music, giving the artists and audience an opportunity to engage in a thoughtful conversation about the richness and complexity of life at the U.S./Mexico border. The free performance, sponsored by the Kenan Institute for the Arts, will take place at the Reynolds Place Theatre inside the Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts on Monday, Oct. 3, at 7 p.m. Prior to the show guests can view the Hispanic League’s 30th Anniversary visual art exhibition in the Main Gallery, featuring local artists of Latin American and Hispanic heritage, and have the option to purchase items from food trucks on site.
Register for free tickets to The Frontera Project on the Kenan Institute's website.
In addition to the performance, members of The Frontera Project will conduct workshops and conversations with students in the School of Drama and Division of Liberal Arts at UNCSA during the residency. Developed by the visiting artists in collaboration with UNCSA Drama faculty members Andy Paris and Maggie Anderson, the workshops will explore the use of devised theater in creating The Frontera Project and will give students the opportunity to work with the international artists. These improvised sessions will allow students to think critically about their roles as artists in society and will offer a glimpse through the creative practice of telling uplifting stories through a non-text-based approach. “The workshops give opportunity for students to engage in exercises and activities that can be a launch point to source and shape their own creative point of view and narratives, expand their scope of possibilities for civic and community engagement through unique methods of storytelling, while also experiencing the creative process of these professional artists and their work,” said Anderson.
The workshops give opportunity for students to engage in exercises and activities that can be a launch point to source and shape their own creative point of viewMaggie Anderson
High school, third- and fourth-year Drama students will explore devised theater through improvisation games and exercises centered around storytelling. “The workshops will provide tools that they themselves will be able to use in their own work, as they develop their own creative voice,” said Paris.
As emphasized in UNCSA Forward, the university's five-year strategic plan, The Frontera Project residency helps foster a culturally responsive curriculum and campus experience while expanding professional development opportunities for students. Support from the Kenan Institute encourages and supports alliances aimed at strengthening the arts ecosystem and increasing the contributions that artists make to develop social and economic capital.
Kenan Institute for the Arts Executive Director Kevin Bitterman has followed the work of the founding members of the project and their creative partnerships for nearly a decade.
“Bringing this international ensemble to the UNCSA student body and local arts community underscores the Kenan Institute’s mission to empower the next generation of artist leaders," he said. "Incorporating thought-provoking interactive experiences like The Frontera Project aid in transcending the creative culture and community at the university. It also emphasizes the university’s commitment to curating inclusive and meaningful experiences for the student body while bringing socially conscious subject matter to the forefront of this creative collective.
"Fostering an environment to expand global conversations with artists and how they’re using their voices is an experience the students are thrilled to be a part of," Bitterman added. "I look forward to the global connectivity this project will bring to UNCSA students and the conversations following the performance.”
The Frontera Project was founded by Ramón Verdugo, Jessica Bauman and Jesús Quintero. Created through a series of workshops, it utilizes theatrical tools to transform unique and personal stories as well as challenge common media narratives. The production’s mission aims to highlight a common thread of recognition despite differences of perspective, identity and experience and to spark dialogue about divisiveness and shared experiences.
“Our scene is an empty space that we fill every day with the new experiences that we build together thanks to the conviviality of the theater, which today more than ever reminds us that it is a refuge to continue connecting with other human beings, regardless of borders,” explains co-creator and Tijuana, Mexico-based artist and educator Verdugo.
Bauman says her inspiration for The Frontera Project came after spending some time in Tijuana which ultimately challenged her perception of the border.
“Without realizing it consciously, I had internalized the idea that the border was only a place of transit – and, in the case of Tijuana – layered with a healthy dose of suffering," Bauman said. "What I found instead was a vibrant place with its own, distinct hybrid culture. Sure, migration and suffering are definitely one part of the picture…. But there are so many other stories that we just don’t hear if we aren’t there ourselves: art, music, a sophisticated food culture; people on both sides of the border with deep connections to the other side: living on one side, but working, going to school, maintaining relationships on the other side.”
The Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts was established in 1993 to strengthen the arts by initiating and incubating new ideas within the various constituencies and settings of UNCSA. The Kenan Institute believes that artists can contribute their creative ideas, visionary leadership and novel strategies to strengthen our culture, build businesses and generate innovative ideas. The Kenan Institute advances this vision by fostering new knowledge, developing capacity and forging strategic alliances across the arts and other sectors.
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September 29, 2022