Art Justice at Double Edge Theatre
Since its founding in 1982, Double Edge has created art based on the identities and background of the artists involved in the performance creation. As the ensemble has grown and transformed from an urban performance laboratory to a rural based center of living culture, which includes performance creation, site-specific traveling performances, touring, and collaborative multidisciplinary arts and culture, so has the idea of identity and background.
Our notion of community stems from the deeply rooted relationships which have been forged in our rural town, from artist collaboration with visual artists, designers, seamstresses, and musicians, to cross-sector collaboration with farmers, food systems providers, businesses, contractors, youth, and town government. From volunteers to exchange to employment to audience, all are part of the fabric that grows our cultural life. To summarize, it is a shared resource where life, art, and culture interlace erasing the borders of each compartmentalization.
Our rural town is primarily white, and in developing these in-town relationships the missing link of inclusion based on the composition of our ensemble and our collaborators has been apparent. We thus had a need to tour with a focus on urban centers and to apply the same sense of diving deeply into community across all sectors and all disciplines.
In the past year Double Edge formally created an Art Justice board, comprised of our international ensemble and nine long-term collaborators from African American, Latinx, Native American, Asian, and LGBT communities. The projects we are engaged in range from training exchange and freedom singing to producing, scholarship and work on access, equity, and inclusion in our own rural area and in communities around the country. At the same time we have created a dedicated space with primacy for Native American youth programming and an Emerging Artist Studio dedicated to performance development by underserved artists, with a particular focus on rural, working class and/or African American artists. We also have begun exchange with local people on access for disabled people to participate in this growing culture.
Art Justice at Double Edge is a commitment to transforming the way in which we build a living culture. It is a statement of necessity that without addressing disparity and racial and gender and age and ability and rural/urban inequities, we are not able to create a genuine living, breathing and flourishing culture. Art Justice is built into the entire fabric of Double Edge’s way of life, from training to performance to programming to our connection to our community and to the environment, and is helping us see a way of establishing a truly creative future.
Art Justice leaders at Double Edge include Rhonda Anderson, a member of the Inupiaq- Athabaskan tribe from Colrain, MA- liaison of the Native American Voices Meeting House; Ebony Golden, CEO of Betty’s Daughter Arts Collaborative and 125th and Freedom Ensemble, from NYC- training exchange with and for Black women and youth; Javiera Benavente, director of Ethic and the Common Good, Hampshire College, from Holyoke, MA,- scholarships and Art and Survival; Amrita Ramanan, dramaturg and literary director at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, from Ashland, Oregon- scholarships and art justice dramaturgy; Katie Burgess, actor/leader at Open Flame Theater from Minneapolis, Minnesota- transgender programming and training for youth and adults; Jonathan “Courageous” Clark, Executive Support Manager, The Carpetbag Theatre, Inc., from Knoxville, TN- african american theatre and art exchange; Vijay Mathew, Howlround and DE Board member, from Boston, MA- marketing and outreach; and a focus group from the DE ensemble and company, including Stacy Klein, founder and director, from Ashfield MA- art justice concept and focus on women’s justice in the arts; Carlos Uriona, co artistic director from Argentina and now Ashfield- focus on integration of culture in training and the commons; Travis Coe, Associate Ensemble Member from New York and now Ashfield- Afro Latino and gender identity in training and performance, and collaborative programs; and Tadea Klein, farmer and costume designer from Ashfield, MA- farming, environment, and learning disabilities/autism in developing artistic culture. The remainder of the DE ensemble and company are committed to this outcome.