Our Voices, Bodies Rising: How To Make a Film in the UV During a Pandemic
At the Grange Theater at Artistree
File this under: nothing could stop them, not even a worldwide pandemic that halted the work, but only briefly, of artists around the globe, including those in Vermont and its environs. Choreographer Peggy Brightman’s “live event” celebrating the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in America was stymied when the original venue, Woodstock’s Bookstock, was shuttered last year due to Covid-19.
Undaunted, Brightman enlisted Carla Kimball. Kimball is a dancer and photographer. In March, 2020, her own exceptional photographic exhibition at AVA Gallery had been on view for only three days before Covid shut it down. The exhibition had included a short video. After the show closed, Kimball pivoted, and one might add, persisted: “At that time my video skills were rudimentary. Over the course of the next year I took a series of online video classes at Maine Media Workshops in Rockland, ME. This was something I could never have done in normal times as the cost of travel and room and board would have been prohibitive for me. But the courses were offered online and they worked for me. My filming and editing skills blossomed.”
Kimball has since added filmmaker to her résumé . She and Brightman worked on what has become the film, Our Voices, Bodies Rising: Beyond Suffrage Toward Women’s Empowerment, by enlisting swaths of the local artist community in new and creative ways. In a recent press release, this is how they describe their all-hands-on-deck, whether separately or together, process:
For the libretto for the project, Peg invited area poets to submit poems exploring aspects of women’s struggle for empowerment; thirteen area poets contributed twenty poems for scenes, which Peg arranged into five acts.
Through word-of-mouth and the Vermont Dance Alliance, Peg assembled a diverse and multi-generational cast of some 20 dancers and actors; Upper Valley area musicians contributed to a musical score to heighten the emotional resonance. Overall, 40 participants — including actors, dancers, poets, and musicians from the wider community —helped to create this film.
For each scene (illustrating a poem) Peg emailed instructions to actors and dancers, who used smartphones to create and film one-minute scenes in their own homes-- kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms or back yards. These videos were sent to Carla for initial editing; for months, filmmaker and choreographer collaborated on the final assembling and editing of the scenes via Zoom.
In the final two weeks of May 2021, in chilly weather under cloudy skies, it finally became possible to film unmasked dancers, actors, and poetry readers outdoors on the scenic hillside behind ArtisTree in South Pomfret, VT. The film had its premiere in July at The Barn, in Corinth, VT.
And now Our Voices, Bodies Rising will be presented at the Grange Theatre at Artistree in South Pomfret, VT, on Saturday, November 6 and Sunday, November 7 at 4 p.m. Free, with suggested donation of $10 at the door. Proof of vaccination and masks required. Kimball, Brightman and artists will be present for a discussion following the film.
The project is dedicated to the late United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
(Photos and press release text courtesy of Carla Kimball.)
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And in case you are wondering . . . Susan B. Apel shuttered a lifelong career as a law professor to continue an interest (since kindergarten) in writing. Her freelance business, The Next Word, includes literary and feature writing; her work has appeared in a variety of lit mags and other publications including Art New England, The Woven Tale Press, The Arts Fuse, and Persimmon Tree. She connects with her neighbors through Artful, her blog about arts and culture in the Upper Valley. She’s in love with the written word.