California: The Tempest, reflections from the [intern]al perspective

California: The Tempest

Earlier this year, Cornerstone Theater Company came to the end of their “epic, year-long, ten-city, decade-in-the making, once-in-a-lifetime, world premiere theatrical road-trip” — otherwise known as California: The Tempest (MAP 2014). From 2004 to 2013, Cornerstone created plays throughout California through their Institute Summer Residency program. Each summer they spent a month living and working with these communities, collaborating with residents and outside artists, activists, and educators to create community-engaged theater.

California: The Tempest
California: The Tempest in Downtown Los Angeles. Photo by Kevin Michael Campbell.

California: The Tempest was the culmination and celebration of a decade of Summer Residencies, a work that united these ten California communities onstage and toured to each location. Clara Bartlett, Cornerstone’s Data Analysis Intern, recently spoke with participating community members about their experience with Cornerstone Theater Company and California: The Tempest. Here are some of our favorite reflections; read the full collection here

Another significant benefit from California: The Tempest reported in interviews was the project’s capacity to bring a diversity of people together. While race, religion, and background were a part of this diversity, most interviewees commented on the diversity of age in Cornerstone’s work.

“I never really got to interact with the older community,” 17-year-old Fowler community participant Manpreet Kaur commented. “I only ever interacted with my high school friends or students in general. But now I met 60 year olds and 30 year olds who had been living in Fowler their whole lives. And I got this amazing new perspective.”

(San Francisco cast member, Sarah) Bennett also echoed this idea: “I don’t really have that much contact with seniors. My dad’s no longer living. So within that it was great to talk to a lot of people who had a lot of Bay Area history, real history that was here.”

Sunset Middle School teacher Jose Valadez, from a small, unincorporated, rural town, added, “It was amazing to see how Cornerstone was bringing this broad group of people spread across all of California and they brought them together for this one thing. And I remember, I think it was Peter and Bahni, they shared this little moment at the very first performance at Weedpatch, one of them said to the other, ‘We’re in a gym in Weedpatch and we’re performing Shakespeare and we’re taking it very seriously.’ To be a part of that is truly unique. There was no business in any of that transpiring right there where it did, but it did. No one in his or her right mind would have done any of that. But that’s what makes it such a unique experience; no one is doing that!”

Written by Clara Bartlett, Cornerstone’s Data Analysis Intern. Read the full post here.

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