PANGEA

PANGEA.jpg
 
 

Luciole International Theatre Company presents a mixed media performance installation by Melissa Flower, Lisa Villegas, and Rashed Haq            BLUEorange Contemporary Art Gallery                                                                                                                                                                                   September 30-October 15                                                                                                                                                                                                         Tuesdays-Fridays 2:00-8:00 and Saturdays 1:00-9:00                                                                                                                                                                       With opening reception September 30 6:00-8:00 pm

Houston, TX- July 14, 2016- Luciole International Theatre continues their inaugural season with passion, risk and awe. Houston has been named one of the most diverse cities in the United States.  People come from all over the world to make a new life in our city.  Most of the time, immigration is spoken about in economic terms.  Women are often the most vulnerable travelers and even as Houston is the most diverse, it is also one of the greatest ports for human trafficking.  Theatre artists Melissa Flower and Lisa Villegas join art photographer Rashed Haq to ask questions when it comes to narratives of human economy by collecting the personal stories of women who have traveled to settle in our city.  The project is to interview 8 women immigrants in the Houston area. The interviews will be broadcast on a podcast that will lead up to a final installation/performance piece using Rashed’s photographic portraitures of the women, found objects, collected gestures and stories in order to investigate personal narrative, journey, change, loss, globalization, economics, and the real/imagined concepts of the present Pangea.

Melissa Flower has collaborated with many international artists over the past 5 years. She is known as one artist that does not stay still, always traveling, creating and pushing deeper into her own artistic practice. Pangea first came about when she was in New York and saw the work done by Natasha Barhedia (cachorrofuria.tumblr.com) an artist from Mexico who wrestled with her departure from home, and her sense of space/spatiality/spaciousness as a conceptual framework for her art. The idea of Pangea as spatial concept began here. When Melissa returned to Texas, the discourse around immigration, journey, the “other” was on the forefront of her mind. For Flower, art is the human story and journey is one of the most essential human narratives. She connected with Lisa Villegas and Rashed Haq in order to research immigration through personal stories of women who have come to settle in Houston. “After every interview I am stunned at these women's testimony, says Melissa Flower, I want to tell them thank you. Thank you for coming here. Thank you for making my home better. We are blessed and honored to have you. My hope is that the project we are making expresses this gratitude.” During the exhibition there will also be a movement performance that will continue as long as the exhibition is open. The group will recruit dancers, movers, and performers to move in the space for an hour each so that there is a woman in the space at all times. It will be a durational performance for two weeks. It is an ambitious project, one Luciole International Theatre is diving into as they continue to push boundaries right from the gate in their first season as a company. 

Lisa Villegas is also a theatre maker whose own heritage hails from Colombia. She conducts the interviews and uses her skills as a voice artist and audio editor to create the podcast. "Melissa Flower and I have interviewed women from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds and countries of origin, whose journeys and choices have led them to Houston. Some are women we know, however minimally, some better than others, most are relative strangers. We witness their spirits, listen to their hearts, asking them 'Why here?'... Why Houston? What did you leave behind? What it did it take for you to get here?' As a person who was not born in this country, questions of cultural identity and nationality fascinate me. Our team is hoping to add to the conversation on immigration in a way that holds people who choose to come to this country as resilient, strong, tenacious, as that is what the interviews so far have revealed. Leaning on the teachings of storytelling, we hope this project helps celebrate our shared humanity.”

Rashed Haq is an art photographer originally from Bangladesh. Much of his work is focused on narrative portraiture. During the interviews, he takes riveting portraits of the women as they tell their stories and records the gestures the women make so that Flower and Villegas can later create a dance from those collected gestures.  Rashed contextualizes this project in just how immediate the work is for the world today: “The current migrant crisis is said to be one of the largest since World War 2. Pangea intends to add to the ongoing dialogue by exploring the lives of immigrant women from 4 continents living in Houston - the moving stories of why they came, how they made their way here and how they adapted to their new homeland.”  View Rashed's other work at his website: http://www.rashedhaq.com/

Pangea is about the great tradition that reverberates throughout all of human history- the story of journey. Luciole International Theatre is also proud to partner with Tahirih Justice Center, an organization that provides legal and social services to vulnerable women, particularly immigrant women. To learn more about the center, visit their website: http://www.tahirih.org/

Collaborators:
Melissa Flower
Rashed Haq
Lisa Villegas
Gehad “Gee” ElShaikh
Aseel Alghazzee
with Composer Garrick Gonzales
and Audio Consultant Robert Price

About the Artists:

Melissa Flower is a freelance director, collaborator, performance artist, and dramaturg. She currently works as the Director of Communications at Luciole International Theatre Company and sits on the board of Wordsmyth Theatre. She served as the Literary Assistant at the Alley Theatre in 2012. Some of her directing credits include: Cassandra at Mildred’s Umbrella, A Doll’s House at Classical Theatre Company (assistant director), Big Love at Theatre B in Fargo, and Roadside. She has also served as assistant director for The Vibrator Play at Stages Repertory Theatre, and Hot L Baltimore. Her other dramaturgical credits include: The Complaint Box and/or Good Times, Dreams Deferred, and Hamlet, and Comedy of Errors at the Houston Shakespeare Festival. Her performance/devising credits include Here Now at the Martha Graham Studios in New York, Hypocrite at Obsidian Theatre and Untangled. Her performance art credits are John Cages’s Lunch and Dinner, Black Hole, and My Blog with Some Google Searches. She has trained with the SITI Company for 5 years and last year completed the SITI Conservatory. She has traveled to Toga, Japan to train with Tadashi Suzuki and the SCOT Company and studied with Double Edge Theatre in Grotowski and circus work in Ashfield, MA. She holds a Masters in Dramaturgy from the University of Houston and a Bachelors of Fine Arts from Baylor University. 

Rashed Haq is an American photographer who was born in Bangladesh and grew up in the Middle East. He works in all genres of photographic practice, focusing on people, society and their intersection. Over the last four years, Rashed has traveled to various countries in Asia photographing people who have to earn their bread every day. He has had multiple group and solo exhibitions across the country, and his work is in various private collections. A selection of his photographs was recently published by the “Center for American Architecture and Design” in their book on living environments.

Lisa Villegas is a bilingual actor and theatre artist who was born in Bogotá, Colombia and grew up in South Florida. She is interested in exploring the intersections of nationality, culture, and identity as well as the dynamic tension between audience and performer. She holds a BA in Dramatic Arts from New York University's Gallatin School and an MFA in Acting from the University of Houston and currently teaches at both Rice University and the University of Houston. Lisa has had the opportunity to approach performance from many perspectives, from Shakespeare and the Greeks to the contemporary avant-garde, and through various mediums, including television, voice-over, and live theatre.

Garrick Gonzales is a formally trained classical and jazz pianist from Houston, Texas. He is a graduate from the University of Texas at Austin’s Butler School of Music where he found a passion for music composition, film scoring, and sound editing. Garrick made his debut in theatre music composition with Express Children Theatre’s touring production of My BFF Dragon, Obsidian Theater’s The Trojan Women, and NITC's The Baby. He is also a co-producer for Gigantic Cranium on an award-winning, feature-length documentary about a non-profit, youth performing arts organization called Scouts Honor: Inside a Marching Brotherhood.

About Luciole International Theatre:

LIT was founded by Clara Ploux and Nikki Wuertz in September 2015 to build new opportunities for artistic endeavors in Houston that embrace our cosmopolitan communities, both locally and internationally. Through workshops, shows, art and theatre media performances, exhibitions, films, international collaborations, grants to work or study abroad, and all kinds of art presentations LIT is aiming to facilitate multicultural and international art exchanges that offer new opportunities to Houston artists while bringing cultural enrichment and diversity to Houston audiences. 

For more information visit: lucioleinternationaltheatre.org

Links:

This is a link to our successful kickstarter with a video and summary of the project:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/403021269/pangea/description

This is a link to our podcast page:
pangeapodcast.com

This is a link to our podcast on itunes:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/pangea/id1143558527

This is our promo video:
https://vimeo.com/179199455