VOICES theater company premiers “A Green Bird on Orange Trees,” at The Arts Campus at Willits (better known as TACAW) on Oct. 21 and 22 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 23 at 4 p.m. This production brings stories from seven local queer artists to the stage with live music, spoken word and movement.
According to the VOICES’ website, the creation of this production came from each artist unraveling hidden fibers of themselves while generously offering up humor, pain and joy to thread the pieces together. Typical of VOICES, this project began with the cast sharing their personal stories amongst the rest of the cast and crew. Only then, did the process of blueprinting and workshopping the show began.
“A Green Bird on Orange Trees” is co-directed by Art Williams and Cassidy Willey and the cast includes: Hattie Rensberry, Travis Wilson, Micha Schoepe, Bryan Alvarez-Terrazas, Dani Rivera, Quentin Farris, Jeanette Adams and Kat Dressman.
TACAW and VOICES have collaborated many times. Willey expressed her gratitude to the venue for opening its arms to them.
The Sopris Sun had the opportunity to speak with Willey, Rensberry, and Farris about the production.
Willey is well known in the Valley for her talents in theater and has been with VOICES for a number of years. She says that the theme of this production holds an important meaning and should provide inspiration for audience members.
Willey considers herself “as someone who does not identify as part of the queer community, but most certainly an ally,” she shared. “I would love for everyone to see parts of themselves reflected in this story, “ she continued, “ and really see how much people have in common and the humanity of everyone who has struggled and [their] triumphs.”
With this production, she hopes some will come away with more understanding and empathy and others feeling less alone.
“I do feel that every single person coming to the show — regardless of their identity, orientation or background — will see themselves reflected in the generosity and the honesty of the stories shared. I think it’s great that our ensemble offers this gift of opening themselves up and really doing a lot of exploring on stage, in front of us. Some of these stories and times in their lives are very much still in process,” explained Willey.
Farris has been performing with VOICES since he was a junior in high school and has continued working with them since. His performance includes poetry that draws inspiration from the popular fantasy game Dungeons and Dragons.
“I think the current production is absolutely incredible. All of the work that we’re doing is incredible,” said Farris. “It’s just been really fun to hang out with other people, see all of our shared experiences, different experiences and just learn more about each other.”
Farris also said that the production is important as it will be platforming often silenced voices and show queer folk in the Valley that there are spaces and communities for them.
“I hope that anyone who comes to the show will take away that being queer inherently has a lot of struggles,” Farris continued. “So, hopefully they can take away from this view into the queer experience.”
In writing her piece, Renseberry mentioned that it was important for her to focus on themes, stories and figures that people are familiar with, so as to give them a holding point as she goes through the narrative.
“I spent a lot of time trying to find linguistic visuals and storytelling themes that people will be familiar with that can help create an environment where they can really sit in that space, with that character, and better understand her journey and her experience throughout the process,” stated Rensberry.
She hopes the audience will walk away with a feeling of having put themselves into the shoes of the storytellers.
Tickets for “A Green Bird on Orange Trees” are on sale now at www.voicesrfv.org