Neworld Theatre 18/19 Season

Risking Vulnerability

Hey. Chelsea here. Marcus is on administrative leave this season, taking time to write and pursue artistic opportunities that have come his way, so I’m in the position of Interim Artistic Director. This is the next step in a longer-term artistic leader transition that you’ll hear more about next season. Keeping you on the edge of your seat! In the meantime, there is yet another bit of a shake-up underway. In October, I go on maternity leave for six months and our long-time friend and close collaborator Christine Quintana steps in as Interim, Interim Artistic Director. Matt, Corinna and our newly hired producer (yay!), Sandra, will be holding down the fort all year long.

In the midst of all this change I’ve been thinking a lot about vulnerability. Likely spurring on this pre-occupation is the fact that I’m about to become a mom for the first time. In my experience, pregnancy forces you to accept your own vulnerability. That I can’t do it all. That asking for support is okay. And what could be more vulnerable than an infant? Than first time parents? But at the same time, what could be more resilient?

This fixation was sparked for me by the work Marcus, Sarah Garton Stanley and I have been doing on An Awkward and Embarrassing Conversation about Difference. A central tenant of this piece is that Marcus and Sarah have public conversations about topics that they fear will get them “voted off the island”. What we’ve witnessed is that talking about embarrassing and awkward topics, and in doing so, risking vulnerability, serves to break down polarity and interrogate positionality. In this time of extreme polarization, I believe that vulnerability could be an antidote.

All of our work this season asks us and our audiences to question our positions and invites all of us to listen to each other empathically and courageously. Emphasizing capacity not deficiency, King Arthur’s Night centers the artistic vision of our friend, Niall McNeil, an artist whose life experience includes Down syndrome, and challenges our perceptions about what people with developmental disabilities and professional artists working together in creative collaboration can accomplish. Incognito Mode: A Play About Porn puts the spotlight on one of society’s biggest taboos, pornography, and, through a multi-year collaboration with courageously honest students at Studio 58, explores what it means to have grown up with easy access to online porn. The Boy in the Moon, based on the book by journalist Ian Brown by the same name, invites us into the lives and minds of parents struggling to raise a child with a severe disability caused by a rare genetic disorder. I personally feel great connection to Clean, a new play in development by Christine Quintana about intersectional feminism. Set in an all-inclusive Cancun resort, this new work explores the tension between how we see ourselves versus how we actually behave.

At the same time as developing and producing this work, we are thrilled to be launching the LEAD Ensemble, a dream many years in the making. This is an ongoing, paid, performance ensemble that continues the work of King Arthur’s Night by bringing together ‘neurotypical’ and ‘neurodivergent’ performers for weekly dramatic exploration. We are also supporting several exciting associate productions and producing one-night events, including the return of Another Window.

With all of these projects, we are risking being raw, open and unguarded and we’re inviting our audiences to do the same. By sitting together in areas of discomfort and speaking the taboo, we can begin to break down the deep divides between us and find common ground in shared humanity. In 18/19 we’re taking a leap, going bare, and we hope you’ll join us.

–Chelsea Haberlin, Interim Artistic Director