By Emily Thompson, Senior Community Engagement Fellow
Last Friday five of the Fairfax County Voices of Now Ensembles gathered at Robinson Secondary School for the second annual VON School Share! Seventy-five VON artists from the Burke, Key, Kilmer, Robinson, and Whitman Ensembles gathered to show each other a selection of each of their plays. The school share allows the artists to perform in front of an audience before the Voices of Now Festival at Arena Stage.
All of the artists gathered to present fellow artists, teaching artists, partner teachers, and the Mentors, with a two-three minute selection of their plays in progress. The evening began with some ice breakers, a focused vocal warm-up, and a giant group 7’s warm up that ended with some gorgeous weight shares created by partners from different ensembles. It was inspiring to see the artists making such beautiful and dynamic art with people they had never met before.
The evening’s line-up of sharing consisted of the Kilmer Ensemble with Moving Target, the Robinson Ensemble with Open and Shut, the Burke Ensemble with Breaking Free, the Whitman Ensemble with Take Away, and the Key Ensemble with Carry On. All of the artists watched the material presented on-stage and noted in their journals what they liked about each performance. After each performance, the performing ensemble got to hear feedback from the artists and teaching artists in the audience. Audience members pointed out what we liked in each piece- especially noticing what movement pieces, images, and important questions reached us.
The School Share is an important chance for artists who are well into the process to get a feel for performing their pieces in front of an audience. It is also a wonderful opportunity for the artists to see and be inspired by each other’s work and to feel connected as a community of VON artists creating and sharing art. The evening ended with the artists getting to spend some time together over pizza and a massive game of Smithsonian.