STONINGTON — Opera House Arts recently announce that their artist residency program will continue despite closed doors.
Laura K. Nicoll and Rufus Morgan Kreilkamp Nicoll will be Opera House Arts artists “in residence” May 3-9 to develop their production of Edna St. Vincent Millay’s Aria Da Capo remotely, according to a news release from Kate Russell, director of communications and engagement at Opera House Arts.

This is the first virtual residency that Opera House Arts is supporting during the COVID-19 public health crisis. The original proposal was submitted Feb. 22 and accepted March 6. After a conversation, both OHA and the artists decided to move forward and experiment with how this might work with Rufus in Deer Isle, Laura in Brooklyn, New York, and no travel or gatherings allowed.

The artists are looking for community feedback during the creative process. There are a number of ways to follow along as they work and also to add community voices to the mix through various platforms. The artists invite folks to follow their progress and showings on Opera House Arts’ social media platforms, such as Facebook and instagram as well as on the performing arts center’s website at operahousearts.org/residency.

Aria Da Capo is a little absurd as a straight play, holding a looping narrative and a play within a play. First published in 1920, this centennial presentation will refer obliquely to Maine’s bicentennial and national elections as well as other current events. The artists are interested in extending the extant absurdity in a manner which may actually clarify the contained stories and might be smiled on by Millay’s ghost.

The artists transcribed the script of Aria from an heirloom first edition into a digital text edit file, then one night recorded the script onto a phone, their two voices reading the five parts. At one point, they switch who is playing one of the characters. Thanks to a bit of technological serendipity in the transfer from phone to computer, the recording emerged from speakers on top of itself with a 20 second lag, delighting, confounding, and intriguing the artists. Then, they developed a movement pattern to perform to this score, cradling the looping text and honoring the original work while updating it.

During this residency Laura and Rufus would like to continue to develop the movement patterns and develop visual elements of sets and costumes in a low-tech way that feels high-tech, doing some experiments with an overhead projector and some laptops, or other monitors. They are hoping to premiere this show in the fall of 2020.

For more information about Opera House Arts and Kreilkamp Nicoll’s virtual residency showings, visit operahousearts.org or call 207-367-2788.

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