The Fools Collaborative is hosting another night of pop-up theater and performance here in Fresno. The theme of Wednesday night’s presentation is “Identity” and will include short theater pieces, poetry, and a variety of other performance art and styles. I got the details from Haley White, the Fools founder, as well as an update on the outlook of the Collaborative itself. Check it out.
How did the project “Identity” come about?
Lia Dewey, who has been an active member of our group for the past couple years, is leaving Fresno next month to go to grad school in Ohio. When she asked us if we might be able to help her mount a production of her short play, “Imposter”, we set about trying to figure out ways to do so quickly and efficiently. Since our friends at Selma Art Center had just done an evening of short plays, we felt we needed to approach producing it from a slightly different angle. We really liked the theme of identity that is prevalent in Lia’s script and thought that it could line up nicely with other culturally relevant themes of Self. It’s nothing new, of course, but this administration has really gone out of its way to make multiple groups of people feel like they’re the “Other”, so there is so much fodder for inspiration right now.
We asked other members of our organization, and some friends, if they wanted to write plays, sing songs, read poems, and choreograph dances on that same theme of Identity, whatever it meant for them. For the most part, the program for the evening was built from people who approached us with an interest in having something to say. Because of this, I think we’re going to have a nice, cathartic evening exploring hard topics from several different intimate, honest angles.
I should mention we’d also been wanting to do a fundraiser for RAICES for a long time, and this seemed like a natural fit for that.
In addition to Lia’s play, Kristin Crase also wrote a short play about being proud to be from Fresno. Michael C. Flores is choreographing a movement piece to one of Juan Luis Guzman’s poems. Jeremy Hitch and Rodolfo Robles are performing pieces they wrote about their experience as gay men, culturally and in relation to their families. Ashley Hyatt and Christy Hathaway are performing some powerful poems that speak to the experience of womanhood. And there are still several more surprises in the works.
What do you hope audiences will experience at the event? What do you hope they’ll take away?
We decided earlier this year to look long and hard at what we provide as an organization – what we’ve been doing that is selfishly motivated versus what we do that truly fits the core of our mission statement. For us, we are most proud of creating opportunities for community. This event is a way for artists to share intimate new material, for people to hear stories and know they’re not alone, and for everyone in attendance to talk about those vulnerable sides of ourselves and our culture in a way that is safe and supportive and nurturing. Our goals here is to encourage our members to keep giving thought, voice, and action to their most intimate truths, and to encourage other people in attendance to feel comfortable opening up about their experience, too. Maybe even join us on stage next time around.
I don’t think we realized what a necessary and vital theme we had chosen until we started asking people to talk about how they see themselves for our companion Instagram #tfcIDENTITY series. Asking people to talk about how they think they present to the world versus how they personally see themselves has sparked a lot of emotions and conversation already, just internally. The thing is, we probably all feel like the “Other” at so many points in our own lives, but that’s actually something we all have in common. In a divisive, isolating world, this is a way we can be a little unifying while also celebrating our uniqueness.
Our mission to raise awareness and funds for various social causes and non-profit organizations through artistic means. At the core of that, my stealth goal as a creative director is to help create a collective of engaged artists who value consideration, contemplation, and connecting their work to the greater good. I also want us to be part of building true artistic community here in Fresno- a group of people who aren’t afraid to be vulnerable, ask for feedback, seek guidance, and even fail in front of one another. The Fools also hope to create safe spaces for audiences, including atypical audiences, to explore and connect and feel seen.
Details on the event:
Wednesday, July 31st at 7:30 PM. Our Saviour’s Lutheran Social Hall (North side of campus, not the sanctuary). Donation-based, Pay What You Can entry. Proceeds benefit RAICES. There will be free snacks and drinks after the show.
Here’s the Facebook Event Page
What else should arts lovers know about the pop-up event “Identity” or the Fool’s Collaborative?
We are working this year to create zero and low-waste productions, so everything (but food) will be sourced from props, costumes, and set dec we already have access to. We are trying to see if we can go the rest of the year without purchasing or renting any new materials. This was something we came up with while looking long and hard at what we want our imprint in town to be. We decided we (mostly me, ha!) need to let go of that need for clean aesthetics in order to be less wasteful and focus more on what really matters to us, which is the storytelling.