July 27, 2018
2018 Institute: Meet the Players: Eliot Feenstra
This summer we traveled to the other side of the country to make a new play called, The Cardinal with and about the people of Queens New York, the most ethnically diverse urban area in the world. The production is part of Cornerstone’s Institute Summer Residency, which has brought together thirteen participants (“the players”) from across the United States and Canada to live, learn, and create together. In one month’s time, and working alongside Cornerstone staff, Ensemble and community members, these creative souls are learning Cornerstone’s process for creating community-engaged theater. By participating in classes, workshops, and taking part in every aspect of the play-making process from casting, auditions, rehearsals, costume/design build, and acting. This blog series is an opportunity for you to “Meet the Players”!
Eliot Feenstra AKA Band
A little bit about Eliot.
“I am a theatre-maker as well as an organizer, facilitator, scholar, and farmer. I’m currently finishing up an MA in Performance Studies at York University in Toronto. My work as a theatre-maker focuses on theatre, ritual, and rural communities–arts in collaboration with rural community economic development and particularly rural queer/trans and marginalized communities and how people forge a sense of place/belonging/stewardship. I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA; my dad is the child of Dutch immigrants to British Columbia and my mom’s from the South; and have been living and making theatre in rural southern Oregon in collaboration with the Oregon Humanities, Ford Foundation, Oregon Community Foundation, and Rural Organizing Project for the past several years.”
What inspired you to join Cornerstone’s Institute Summer Residency this year?
“I’ve been interested in Cornerstone’s work for several years as I’ve been developing my own work as a community-engaged artist, primarily based in rural Oregon. It’s hard to get a sense of the work from a distance; and one thing I really admired from afar was the importance of aesthetic excellence and community engagement (and political timeliness and relevance). Being in grad school has definitely been a reminder that there’s a big gap between thinking-talking-about and experiencing/being in it, in time and space; so, I came to do that.”
What has been your favorite moment thus far?
“I really enjoyed seeing people (community cast members, ensemble, staff, and Institute participants) sitting in a circle for the first read-through of the script. It felt kind of amazing that all these people who’d gotten connected in all these disparate ways were sitting down together, at the brink of something new. It felt pretty amazing to me.”
What do you hope to learn from your experience this summer?
“I’m hoping to learn more about creating aesthetically compelling, cohesive and coherent work in a community-based context. I’m really delighted to be seeing and learning from the designers, composer, choreographer, and witness the work of stage management and community engagement that pulls threads together. I’m here to learn more about how to make powerful work in my communities and about the issues that affect the places I live and care about.”
Complete this sentence. Queens is….
“… loud, sweaty, and a pretty wild convergence of dreams.”
Why do you think people should come and see the play?
“I think people should come see the play because either a) you live in Queens and maybe you see theatre or never see theatre and it’s cool to see art that aspires to reflect your world, b) you’re interested in what kind of work can emerge from a community-engaged process, and/or c) you’re into the kind of dialogue that becomes possible after witnessing the production of a project like this. I’m most excited about c) (although I have to admit that I’m hopping on a plane at 1am on Saturday night, so I’m also expecting to have major FOMO about those incredible conversations).”
The Cardinal performs August 10 & 11th. CLICK HERE to purchase tickets today!