The New Hazlett Theater’s CSA series is distinguishing itself as a unique and innovative performance series for artists in the Pittsburgh area. The series is named after the Community Supported Agriculture model, which is a method for consumers to buy food directly from farmers. The New Hazlett Theater’s CSA series appears on the outside to be quite like a regular subscription series, the series does a substantial job in nourishing groundbreaking and innovative artists in the Pittsburgh area.
The CSA’s Director of Programming, Bill Rodgers is a jack of all trades who has a variety of skills to help artists create strong performance pieces. Rodgers was able to pinpoint some of the exact ways that the CSA series stands out from other theatrical offerings in the Pittsburgh area. For one, the CSA offers emerging artists more incubation and feedback than other venues. The CSA series is also a strong venue choice for individuals who desire a venue for a work that is beginning to gain momentum.
A third unique factor is that the New Hazlett’s CSA series offers a unique educational component. Not only do artists at the New Hazlett have the opportunity to engage with previous alumni from the series to refine work, the program also offers a Friday matinee geared towards high school students. The CSA aims to present high school students with exposure to the theater that falls outside traditional theatrical offerings.
With its initial season in 2013, the CSA series has continuously expanded with increased opportunities and resources available for the various performers in the program. The artists for the CSA’s 2016/2017 season were selected from a particularly competitive screening process. After an artist submits work to the New Hazlett, a panel of anonymous artists who have performed at the space and represent a variety of artistic fields meet to discuss which works should ultimately be chosen to be produced at the CSA. Each year there are new issues and problems that arise at the New Hazlett, but the New Hazlett’s staff continues to find new and better ways to help artists create more refined performances.
The New Hazlett’s 2016 to 2017 season plans to introduce five new works, which aim to tackle a variety of issues and assume a variety of forms. The performance pieces lined up by the New Hazlett theater this season include the following:
Midnight in Molina, October 20, 2016
This work is by Cole Hoyer-Winfield, a graphic artist and storyteller whose works combine exposure to the midwest and Brazil. The piece implements hand-drawn projections, shadow puppetry, and live music to depict a mystical world. Asked to describe this work, which is slated for a final production meeting later this month, Rodgers called it “whimsical and poetic.”
Redemption Sons, December 8, 2016
This work was created by Doctors Tameka Cage Conley and Jason Mendez, who in addition to being gifted storytellers have also achieved post-doctoral educations. Inspired by the African American and Latino/Hispanic experience, this work is focused on how to pass along cultural experiences to children who are growing up in the increasingly chaotic environment of the United States.
A Love Supreme, February 16, 2017
Named after the quintessential jazz album by John Coltrane, this work is the combination of two artistic talents. Anqwenique Wingfield is a vocalist and composer who has performed opera, classical music, jazz, and soul. Julie Mallis is a visual artist who practices in mostly new media, printmaking, and “happening” style events. A combination of jazz and soul, this work explores the work of pioneering African American women in classical music in addition to exploring themes like love, death, and womanhood. Rodgers calls this work “revelatory” in its use projection mapping and audience interaction to explore the world of music performers.
Over Exposed, April 6, 2017
This dance piece was created by Lindsay Fisher, a Butler County native who has substantial experience dancing for professional New York City dance companies. A refined and advanced dance piece, this work revolves around doubt, insecurities, and the small victories of life.
Kalposia, June 1, 2017
Monteze Freeland’s Kalposia is an exciting theater and musical piece based on the author’s own experience of being diagnosed by a doctor as retarded when the author was twenty five years old. This engaging work addresses several ideas includes the labels that are placed on individuals by health organizations and the surrounding society. Stressing the alumni and network based atmosphere of the New Hazlett CSA, Monteze Freeland is an accomplished performer and appeared in a season two production of the CSA series.
As someone who is interested in unique and vibrant theater, I certainly am excited about the works that are coming to this year’s CSA series at the New Hazlett Theater.
For tickets and more information, check out their website here. Photos courtesy of the New Hazlett’s website.