VOICES Project opens original theater project in Carbondale
IF YOU GO…
What: The VOICES Project presents, “Void of Darkness, Eat the Light”
Where: Third Street Center, Carbondale
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday, March 1-3
Cost: $10 donation suggested. Call 719-480-3024 to reserve seats. For more information, visit www.amplifyingvoices.org.
For a third year in a row, the VOICES Project has joined together with students from Carbondale and Basalt to create an original theater project to be showcased this weekend.
“We feel that when you bring a diverse group of kids together, a diverse group of teaching artists, and you have different art forms available for self-expression, really exciting things happen,” VOICES Executive Artistic Director Renee Prince said.
Added teaching artist Ryan Prince, “I think the name of the nonprofit really speaks to the mission, providing everyone voices — giving individuals, young or old, the ability to come together in a group and have a safe place to share each others’ voices and feelings.
“We started with the mission to amplify voices through the arts. That includes all art forms.”
With five weeks from the first meeting to the final curtain, 20 high-schoolers have been writing scenes and poetry, building puppets, choreographing movement, and composing songs in preparation for the project.
According to the show’s director, Cassidy Willey, “It can be a challenge. It’s exciting to watch students show up for each other through this process — to give them opportunity to create their own words, movement and songs on stage.”
In addition to Willey and Ryan Prince, the team of local teaching artists includes Gabriela Alvarez Espinoza, Vanessa Porras and Madison Coia.
The teaching artists have led the students through workshops to pick a theme and craft an original show.
“Getting together with the students and the teaching artists and just working up the bravery to build something that doesn’t exist, and then putting it out there is really challenging and rewarding to me,” Ryan Prince added.
Renee Prince says it’s a nice counterpoint to all the screen time that is in the world now.
This year’s project, titled “Void of Darkness, Eat the Light,” explores the transition from childhood to adolescence.
“There is something about this project that we find truly does connect young people. It just really builds their confidence, and their compassion for one another,” Renee added.
“If we can help a kid out of isolation, that is the most important thing we can be doing.”
Students participating in the project cover the gamut of emotions.
First-year participant Tyler Gruel said he found the project freeing and inspiring when he attended a performance last year.
“I think it takes anybody in who feels any kind of connection to it, and lets them say how they feel about it. For example, we got to look more into ourselves, and put pieces of ourselves into the project and culminate it into a whole for all of us. It was really cool to see it happen,” Gruel added. “It really opened the door to expression for me, too.”
Said student participant Bianca Godina, “For me all three years of it have been a way to express myself and a way to grow in both my performing and writing.”
“The first year Renee came into the library, she basically told us we were building a play out of nothing, and I was interested,” Godina said. “I showed up that first practice, and that’s how we began the process.”
“It’s been a place to center myself and come back to what I want to do in my writing.”
Second-year participant Daniela Rivera said she was super nervous her first year, but those nerves have settled a bit this year.
“All the stories that we present, we are so vulnerable with ourselves … 99.9 percent of the time the pieces are true, so they are intense, which makes it scary.” Rivera said.
Added Renee Prince, “It’s a group of very brave students, who haven’t found an artistic home in other after-school opportunities.
“Our motto is leap and build your wings in the air” — inspired by Ray Bradbury’s famous quote.
“We changed it to be a little more like flying and a little less like falling,” she added.
“The idea is you just have to commit to this process and trust that we are talented, collaborative, strong and brave enough to actually get it done. “When you find yourself flying, you realize how truly powerful you are, and how truly powerful creativity is.”
The curtain will rise for the cast and crew at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Third Street Center in Carbondale for the first of three shows.