What does Pulitzer Prize; Grammy; Best American Short Plays; Fulbright Scholar Program; National Endowment for the Arts; National Science Foundation; Moscow English Theatre; National Italian Radio; Georges Pompideau Centre-Paris; and, London’s West End have in common with the Old Ways New Town lifestyle of Seaside? As part of a unique tradition established in 1993, 12 distinguished artists who have been honored by these cultural institutions are guests of our community as Escape To Create Artists-in-Residence.
Their month-long residencies, awarded by a panel of distinguished peers and E2C Fellows, is made possible through the generosity of Seaside homeowners who have donated their cottages as artist housing. To honor this kindness of strangers and the rare gift of time and place in which to develop their projects, the multi-faceted “Escapees” will contribute master classes, workshops and visits in classroom throughout Walton County. The REP Theatre provides the perfectly intimate venue for multi-disciplinary presentations often compared to innovative programs found only in leading U.S. metropolitan cities. The multi-faceted artists of Escape To Create symbolize the prominent role our iconic beach town has forged in the arts and culture landscape of the Gulf Region:
Throughout international careers as actors, directors and playwrights, Nicholas Collett and Gavin Robertson have collaborated numerous times to produce awarded works for theatre and BBC television. On Saturday, Jan. 9, at 7:30 p.m., the British duo will perform their first collaborative success, The Six-Sided Man. A dark comedic meditation on the nature of choice and the question of fate, the play broke Sir John Guilguid’s longstanding record of ticket sales in London’s West End. Collett will spend his residency completing the final draft of The Bard, his new play set to premier in the UK later this spring. Robertson will begin development of a new play based on string theory, probability, coincidence and fate. They will conduct a series of master classes in movement and mime for advanced theatre students at Gulf Coast State College.
Brooklyn playwright Adam Kraar is the inaugural recipient of Escape To Create’s $1,000 Goody Fellowship for Playwrights. The privately funded grant will be awarded annually to attract exciting new works to the stage of The REP Theatre. Kraar’s winning submission, Dream Of A Deer At Dusk, was designated 2014 Finalist at the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference. The lyric drama is under development for final production and will receive a script in hand reading featuring actors of The REP Wednesday, Jan. 27, at 7:30 p.m. Kraar is also working with English, creative writing and theater high school students.
Visual artist Hart James approaches the canvas with a strong palette of oils and a joie de vivre for the natural world in which we live. Following the example of great artists such as Picasso, Zola, and Bach, James’ abstract landscapes capture the very beauty and life force of existence in bold, chiseled strokes. Based in Mendocino, Calif., she has exhibited throughout the West Coast, Ohio and Kentucky. During her Seaside residency, James will produce a series of round paintings inspired by the Kanji symbol Enso, the circle representing infinity, the true nature of existence and enlightenment. James will exhibit her work in Seaside, give an artist talk and visit middle school art classes.
Ryan Heinlein’s big, ambitious compositions have earned his instrumental band Project H the Best Jazz Ensemble Award by Pitch Magazine in their hometown of Kansas City. Heinlein recently completed his Doctorate of Music Arts, Trombone Performance at UMKC and teaches at Avila University. During his residency, he will compose a sweeping big band piece scheduled to premier this spring and will conduct an interactive improvisation workshop with middle grade jazz band students. He will share his musical journey in a special multi-media presentation at The REP Friday, Jan. 22, at 7:30 p.m.
Sandra Jackson-Opoku is a leading writer and scholar of the African American experience, the Great Migration and the African Diaspora. Her critically acclaimed novels, The River Where Blood Is Born and Hot Johnny, are praised as works of enormous grace, subtlety and elegance. Recently retired from Chicago State University after a distinguished academic career, Jackson-Opoku will devote her residency to completion of a new short-story collection and will begin a non-fiction work tracing the steps of the great Harlem Renaissance writer and folklorist Zora Neale Hurston’s sojourns through Florida. Jackson-Opoku will read selections from her awarded works and share her work on Hurston’s life in Florida at The REP Wednesday, Jan. 13, at 7:30 p.m. She will also conduct a writing workshop, “The Place Is The Thing,” time and place to be announced.
Associate professor and co-chair of communication: Film and Media Arts at UMKC, Caitlin Horsmon’s experimental and non-fiction media works have been exhibited worldwide. Her film Themes & Variations for the Naked Eye is considered one of 50 Best Avant Garde Films & Videos of the last decade. During her residency, Horsmon will complete a rough edit of a documentary on the disappearing glaciers in Glacier National Park and the tourism that surrounds them. Horsmon will screen a selection of her documentary and art films at The REP Wednesday, Jan. 13, at 7:30 p.m. She will also work with county high school art and technology students to create a stop-action film.
Charis Cotter is the author of several non-fiction books for young readers in Canada. Her first fiction novel, The Swallow: A Ghost Story, was selected as a 2015 Honour Book by the Canadian Library Association and is finalist for the 2016 Rocky Mountain Book Award. Writing in a style that exemplifies the rich storytelling traditions of her Newfoundland homeland, Cotter plans to complete her second teen fiction novel due for publication in 2017. She will also read from her works and will conduct a mystery-writing workshop for writers of all ages at The REP Saturday, Feb. 20.
Born in Venice, Italy, saxophonist and awarded composer Michele Caniato attended the Berklee School of Music on scholarship and received his doctorate from Boston University. He is professor music at Fitchburg State University (MA). A Fulbright Scholar and published jazz theorist, Caniato’s compositions encompass a broad range of styles including classical, ensemble and orchestral works. During his E2C residency, Caniato will complete a commissioned work scheduled for a fall premier and will visit student jazz band classes. He will present his popular What To Listen For In Music lecture featuring recordings and video Friday, Feb. 12, at 7:30 p.m. at The REP.
Nashville-based singer songwriter Jeff Black is considered one of America’s most influential folk artists and a pioneering influence on modern folk and roots music. His songs have been covered by leading artists including Sam Bush, Alison Kraus, and Waylon Jennings. Black will devote his residency to writing a new compilation of songs for CD release. He will be contribute a concert performance at The REP Thursday, Feb. 25, at 7:30 p.m. and will also conduct a songwriting workshop for middle grade music students.
Awarded Minnesota journalist William Souder’s articles have appeared in national publications including The Washington Post, NYT, Smithsonian Magazine and Harper’s. He is author of three critically acclaimed books: A Plague of Frogs, Under a Wild Sky: John James Audubon and The Making of The Birds of America, and On A Farther Shore: The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson. Souder will begin writing his next book planned for publication in 2017, Mad At The World: John Steinbeck and The American Century. He will give an illustrated lecture and reading at The REP Sunday, Feb. 7, at 4 p.m.
Interdisciplinary social scientist Katrina Schwartz is based in Chapel Hill, N.C., where she works in the field of environmental and sustainability studies. Research for her E2C residency project, Waters of Destiny: The Everglades, Flood Control, and Surviving the Anthropocene, was supported by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Schwartz will present an illustrated lecture Sunday, Feb. 7, at 4 p.m. that will include topics of special interest to 30A: accelerating destruction of Florida’s fragile wetlands and development vs. biodiversity. She will give a motivational talk to high school students, encouraging analysis of issues important to them as emerging citizens.
Tickets for all REP appearances are $25 each and are available at www.lovetherep.com. Throughout the residency, pop-up events will also occur, making the winter season in Seaside a perfect confluence of art, culture and community.
Visit Escape to Create online for information and up-to-date programs.