Hannah Sundell

Equinox Staff

 

Sam Norton

A&E Editor

 

Art is a form of communication that is based on a creative connection. As a community, it is important to harness this creative connection in order to give art a deeper meaning.

According to Shannon Mayers, director of the Redfern Arts Center, community outreach is an element that the Redfern wants to incorporate into its performances this year.

“When I came on last year, I wanted to expand this model to be able to expand to include more meaningful activities that were open not just to a music student, but to students in other departments, and to the community so that the experience of attending an event is much fuller,” Mayers said.

 

This year, Mayers hopes to not only get students and faculty involved with the theatre, arts, and dance departments, but also community members as well.

“What I looked towards was being able to help build anticipation and reflection around the event and I looked into finding collaborations within departments and or outside organizations when we were putting our programming together,” Mayers continued, “A guide to this type of outreach or this type of collaboration we have created is called creative connection and that’s the way we look at outreach, its more than just a residency.”

This type of community outreach is accomplished through deciding what themes are present throughout this year’s performances.

These scheduled performances serve as a way to start a conversation amongst Keene State College and the Keene community as to how to become more involved with the Redfern Arts Center’s community.

Jackie Hooper, marketing and business manager for the Redfern Arts Center, said, “We’re trying to encourage more people to attend and to introduce them to the arts and how the arts can really not only be an enjoyable experience, but also expand your horizons and make you think in different ways.” Freshman Tyler Bean said that the Redfern “is doing a great job of putting on shows for students to see.” Part of deepening this experience is expanding the event to more than just the theatre, dance, and art departments.

This year, the Redfern is collaborating with the Holocaust and Genocide Studies and the Cohen Center during this year’s Spectrum Dance, which will be held on Oct. 16.

According to Hooper, the director of the Spectrum Dance, Donald Byrd, made this year’s performance modern by incorporating genocides that are happening around the world today and how we can prevent them from occurring.

Mayers said, “It is beyond the Holocaust that happened in World War II, it’s looking at specifically how do artists survive? How do they manage to endure? How do they continue to do their art? And artists did continue to do their work during these very hard times.”

This year, during the Spectrum Dance, the annual Holocaust Memorial Lecture will be held on Oct. 15 and Byrd, the director of the show, will be holding a post show discussion after the performance on Oct. 16, according to Mayers. This allows viewers to obtain an artistic perspective of what happened in history.

“Our audience is the students, is the faculty, is the campus, but we are also part of Keene and the Monadnock region and we have a responsibility–a creative responsibility to be able to bring this work and these artists together, because we as a performing arts center, need to support and advocate for the artists that come through,” Mayers said.

The Griffin Theatre Company is another group performing at the Redfern this season. This March, the show “Letters Home” will be performed, consisting of actual letters written by soldiers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, which will be read out loud. This event is sponsored by C&S Wholesale Grocers, as part of a program where they are hiring 500 veterans, according to Hooper.

“It’s a very personal, non-political look at the experience of being a soldier during these conflicts. But of course it deals with military history, conflict in the Middle East, patriotism, terrorism, the human experience of war, war correspondence, journalism, and the element of taking letters and performing them on-stage, and it becomes a different dramatic monologue in history,” Mayers said.

Other organizations collaborating with the Redfern Arts Center this year are the KSC Film Society and Film Studies Department, the Theatre and Dance Department, Monadnock Radio Group, ETHEL String Quartet, Vermont Performance Lab, and the Apple Hill String Quartet.

In order to involve the community with the arts more, the Redfern is hosting pre and post show discussions that allow the audience to gain a deeper understanding of the performance, the artist’s creative process, and the themes presented throughout the shows this year.

“When you attend an event the artists and the audience become a community of its own for that one instance in time. And it’s very unique, it’s a live performance, it will never be duplicated, the combination of people will never be duplicated and if you’ve ever attended an event anywhere, if it’s a live event, you become a community for an hour or two and you are all experiencing something,” Mayers said.

However, what is experienced is dependent upon the connection that is made between the performers and their audience. In order to deepen this connection–it is important to involve the community as a whole  in order to diversify the face of the Redfern. “We are one of the public faces of the college campus,” Mayers continued, “It’s about the arts at Keene State College and that is where the arts start to have a ripple effect.”

For this ripple effect to occur it has to be a form of communication that inspires creative connection amongst the community.

 

Hannah Sundell can be contacted at hsundell@keene-equinox.com.

 

Sam Norton can be contacted at

snorton@keene-equinox.com.

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