The Mora Project: Roots and Wings!

The Mora Project: Roots and Wings!

“Tell me the landscape in which you live, and I will tell you who you are.” - Jose Ortega y Gassett“Landscape is loud with dialogues, with story lines that connect a place to its dwellers.” - Anne Winston Spirn“As I look back on part of the mystery which is my own life, my own story, what I am most aware of is that we receive more than we can ever give; we receive it from the past, on which we draw with every breath.” - Edwin Muir
A year-long story collecting project has started in the valley of Mora, New Mexico. Members of the Company are working directly with students and others in this beautiful place to both gather life stories from those who live there and to create artistic forma, including performance, to celebrate and remember those lives. Young people need to be invited by their community to bring special things into the daily lives of everyone. They can, and will, make gifts of their talents, insights, energy, vision and hopes to the people who live around them. We all need that from them. They need to know we need and value those gifts. The purpose of making art, in all its forms, is the creation of the preferred self, rather than the inherited self; and the creation of things which celebrate and enhance the world Young people, still in the role of students, are ideally positioned to do this kind of work. Young people know a deep hunger for life-giving experiences. They want to know how to build a world, not just consume it. They enjoy bringing focus to some strong ideas that shape the world. They are almost shaking in their shoes to test their strength against human need and possibility. They are yearning for a rich and resolute inwardness. They want to – and are ready to- make a difference! So – off we all go into the Mora Valley to shake the stories out of the trees and from behind the rocks. Why not! The answer is very simple. When the Company produced Jean Anouilh’s startling ANTIGONE last season (the one for which we transformed the abandoned swimming pool on Llano Street ) Renee Moody, an English and Visual Arts Teacher in Mora – loaded the entire sophomore class on a bus to come and see it. In the days following, the Artistic Director, David Olson, traveled to Mora to meet with the students. He found that encounter to both moving and – how to find the right word – explosive! it was an encounter of some moment. The idea of doing something there demanded a great big “Yes!”. Photos below by Sharon Stewart Once that ‘yes’ popped out there was no turning back!


A several month-long process of gathering stories from within families, embodied in special location and ways of life, and found in documents such as photographs, letters, diaries – has already gotten underway. Students in Mora High School have started to learn the techniques of story collecting, and will be contributing found stories throughout the winter and early spring months. This work has already started in the High School, but will expand to the Middle and Elementary Schools after the New Year. All along students will be encouraged to capture images of the people and places of the Valley in drawings, paintings, photographs, poetry and folk tales. Other interested community members will also be brought into the work through organizations, the Public Library, church communities and workplaces. Anyone interested in learning the methods of eliciting and recording stories from their families, friends and neighbors will be given a chance to do so. The project asks the older generations in the Valley to answer this question: ‘As young people leave the Valley, what do you want to be sure they are taking with them into their lives?” And its asks young people to consider: “ As I leave the Valley, what do I want to leave behind myself?”


There will be two main stage productions in Mora, performed by students in the high school: The first – in the first week of December – will be: Here We Are! A Call for Stories. This piece, which will include storytelling, dance and music, will be a high-energy invitation to the people of the Valley to join in, bring their stories and tales of community heroes forward for the second phase of the story gathering project. Students will audition for roles in this piece, and work with a director, choreographer and music director to reach out with all the energy and commitment theater requires to their families, friends and neighbors. This production will be performed in Mora Independent Schools - Gilbert and Dolores Martinez Gymnasium. Saturday, December 3 at 6:30pm

Mora High School and THEATERWORK

Present: ROOTS & WINGS: A Call for Stories A performance with Storytelling, Music and Dance Celebrating the people of the Mora Valley Performed by students at Mora High School Under the direction of David Olson Saturday, December 3 at 6:30 pm. Gilbert and Dolores Martinez Gymnasium Campus of Mora Independent Schools Mora, New Mexico The second – the last part of June – will be: Where Angels Come to Sing! This full out production, telling the key stories uncovered in the project. It will involve a cast of actors/dancers/ singers and student band and be performed in a renovated space used for the first time as a theater. The cast and crew will have time in the summer months – outside of the academic schedule- to work on this. At the same time there will be an arts exhibit. a small parade of saints and heroes, a concert , a photographic exhibit and tours available in the Valley. This production will be performed both in Mora and in Santa Fe. Dates/ Times and Places will be found here after the New Year. There will also be work going on through the schools and other organizations to set up readings/ puppet performances/ radio stories and small story events in the Spring and Summer. Some teachers are looking at chapbooks, scrapbooks, videos as possible responses to the stories that come in.


Several writers, including poets, novelists and memoirist – some of them born and raised in the Mora Valley – have been asked to participate in the project. To date, all have said ‘yes’. More will appear about their involvement and opportunities to hear or see their work as time goes on. Several painters, folk artists and photographers have been invited to respond to the natural landscape of the Valley, as well as the lives of the people who have lived here. To date, all have said ‘yes’. Their work will be seen as part of culminating events. Perhaps even the establishment of an art gallery. There is also a small group looking into the possibility of providing an adequate indoor space for performance of plays, music, readings and the like. If you like to swing a hammer and a pint roller, this might be the place for your ‘yes’.


The artists who have agreed to make their work a part of this Mora Valley Project have also agreed to eventually place them in a special auction the proceeds from which will go to the establishment of a MORA VALLEY YOUNG ARTISTS SCHOLARSHIP FUND to help support the development of the gifts of young people in the Valley in all of the arts. The project will also establish a PERMAMENT ARCHIVE of all stories and images gathered during this year. One that can be used in the future as a resource for further arts projects, history projects and family story gathering. It is hoped that this art project – involving the work of artists in so many fields – will encourage the development of CONTINUING ARTS PROJECTS into the future. Stories and images from the project will begin to appear here soon. Come back for more! To become involved in supporting this project, please contact us

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