UMF Public Classroom talk explores devised performance with “Everyone at the Table” by Melissa Thompson, March 27

FARMINGTON, ME  (March 22, 2018) — The University of Maine at Farmington is concluding a successful season of Public Classroom talks with a not-to-be-missed presentation entitled, “Everyone at the Table,” by Melissa Thompson, assistant professor of performing arts. This talk takes place at 6:30 p.m., with refreshments at 6 p.m., Tuesday, March 27, in the performance space in the Emery Community Arts Center. It is free and open to the public.

Thompson’s talk is centered around experimental and devised performance—the process of an ensemble creating and performing in their own work. This method of performance invites viewers to bring their own lives, experiences and stories to the table in order to interpret the work, rather than having a playwright or director indicating the one ‘correct’ way to experience a performance.

By creating atypical performance experiences, audiences and the ensemble are pushed slightly out of their comfort zones, thereby creating something new together during each performance.  Most importantly, devised performance allows for more people to be represented on stage and gives more voices a chance to be heard.

Melissa Thompson
Melissa Thompson

This means the potential for a radical sense of inclusion—not just the automatic categories we think of in terms of gender, race, and ethnicity—but also in terms of age, gender expression, sexuality, dis/ability, physical appearance, national origin, cultural and regional identifiers, etc.

By taking a non-traditional theatre format and building a performance from the ground up, not only is there the opportunity to present a wide spectrum of stories, but also that everyone involved gets a seat at the table and gets to have their voices heard.

Melissa C. Thompson is an artist, a scholar, and a co-founder of the multi-disciplinary arts project The Sacred Heart Archive. She has performed and conducted devised physical theatre workshops both nationally and internationally, performing and training with a diverse group of artists including Tim Miller of the “NEA Four”, Moti Roti, Mary Overlie, Mike Pearson, and Elevator Repair Service.

She has trained extensively with Richard Gough of the Center for Performance research, collaborating with him on an international series of food performance. The debut full-length performance by The Sacred Heart Archive—”The Key Said Run and the Door Said Fly,” has been featured at many arts venues across the United States, including the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art and Highways Performance Space.

Thompson has a number of current multi-disciplinary performance collaborations including a collaboration with New Media designer Alison Dobbins, founder of the Media Theatre Performance Laboratory and an ongoing, multi-stage performance project that includes New Media installation, online performance, and in-person performance. In the last year, Thompson and Angela Swiegart-Gallagher have developed a new video performance project under the umbrella of Bad & Nasty Events, a grassroots feminist performance movement.

Thompson received her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The UMF Public Classroom series is sponsored by the Office of the President.

Image can be found at:
Photo Credit: UMF photo
Photo Caption:  Melissa Thompson

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