What We've Been Up To

In July of 2017, Julia, Ellie, Andrew, and Adam Schonberg - our videographer for the project - travelled to Willmar and spent two weeks meeting members of the community and conducting research interviews.  

We didn't go to Willmar with an idea of what story we wanted to tell. That may sound like a strange way to start the process of developing a play. But, our goal was not to create theatre around a specific topic or event. Instead, we wanted to find out:

What are the stories that want to be told? Where are the voices that want to be heard?   

During our time in Willmar we interviewed over 100 people, collecting 150 plus hours of interviews. On average we interviewed over 10 people a day - aiming to meet as broad and diverse a range of residents as possible. 

A few of the questions we asked were factual; "How long have you lived in Willmar?", "Where else have you lived?", "What is your occupation?"  But most of our questions were open ended..."What has it been like for you living in Willmar?" or "What is your daily routine?"  The one question we asked everyone was: "What do you think of when you hear the word 'Community'?"

No two conversations were alike, there were however certain topics or events that were brought up by almost everyone we spoke with  -- the diversity of the community, certain community-based initiatives - the newly build destination playground - but even on these common subjects the views expressed were as broad and varied as the individuals who shared them.

We came away from our time in Willmar learning not just about the community there, but also about ourselves, and the way in which we individually see and interact in the world.   

Fall Company Retreat

Behind the scenes footage from our company work retreat in Phonecia, NY. We spent 4 days breathing in the mountain air, escaping cell reception, and diving headfirst into creating the script for The Willmar Project.  While on the retreat, we read interview transcripts aloud, outlined a coding system for labeling and tracking key elements as we revisit each interview, discussed devising methods, and of course we took some dance breaks! Now onto the next steps...
What's Next?

We have finished transcribing our interviews and are carefully examining all of our material to create The Willmar Project script. Creating the script takes time and careful consideration, so over the next few months we will be exploring our stylistic options in order to find the voice of this particular piece. Then we hire actors, crew, and produce our first full length production in Willmar, MN and New York City in 2019. 

The Willmar Project is part of our first performance series, The America Series, which aims to investigate the story of diverse communities across America, through the lens of the people who live there. In the next 5-10 years, we plan to visit multiple small towns across America, creating a play about each one, in an effort to examine and explore the similarities and differences of the shared human experience.

Want to find out more? Come join us when we tell the story of Willmar, MN onstage. Stay tuned!