2022 was our fullest year of theater in a long time, and we're so grateful!
Sometime in October of 2022, it occurred to us that in the space of 12 months (starting in October of 2021), Rachel and I had gone from holding our first physical training--just the two of us at first, and then with more and more friends--to having conceived, composed, rehearsed, performed, and closed our first full production. Once we reflected on it, we were shocked by how quickly it all came together! And not only that, we were shocked that during those same 12 months we had been able to take part in other projects and collaborations as well, alongside our own work.
What a gift it's been.
Though not as Infinite Spark, Rachel and I started the year as performers in collaboration with our friends and theatrical dynamos Samantha Marchant and Drea Bim of Nickel Flour, performing in their full-length play Firewater. It was the first time either Rachel or I had performed since before the pandemic, and it brought with it all of the uncertainty of "have we forgotten how to do this thing called acting?", followed gratefully by the rediscovery of not only old confidence, but new and unexpected resources, cultivated in the very dark times of the pandemic. Being away from the stage bore unexpected fruit that was a pleasure to taste, and share when the show opened.
The show was a delight to be part of! It presented a world parallel to our own, but with the presence of gods, mythic powers...and of course family dysfunction. Rachel and I also had the honor of being invited to collaborate with Nickel Flour on the production's choreography, movement, and sound design--Sam and Drea are collaborators who aren't precious about process, and love rolling their sleeves up with everyone in the room. It was a really rich experience.
Almost right away after closing Firewater, it became time to look toward the Fringe Festival.
APRIL - SEPTEMBER:
So for the sake of brevity, let's just say that the Fringe process was amazing, intense, exhausting, and above all rewarding as an inaugural production for Rachel and I in our new community. We wanted to come out swinging with variety, versatility and true-blue theatricality, and we feel we accomplished that.
(Though also, it occurs to me just now that it has been interesting this year to notice the ways, and the extents to which the pandemic set us back from what we'd been used to in terms of energy and stamina, before we moved to Rochester. Right away with Firewater, we felt for the first time in years that certain reservoirs had dried up a little; certain muscles had weakened; we ran out of breath more quickly. Not to be fought against or denied; rather, we have spent this year of work noticing, and starting the slow-and-steady process of rebuilding. Some day we trust we'll taste fuller strength again, and bring all of that to you in our work!)
In any case! Our Fringe show, as can be seen in detail in a previous blog post, was an extremely rich process that was ultimately comprised of four one-acts. Our desire was to create a sampler of a few of the things Rachel and I love the most in theater. And what resulted was a wholly original text-based work (Rachel's Know Your Onions), an existing scene adapted into a one-person piece (Petra), a movement-based ensemble piece (And They Never Recovered From The Shock), and a classic adapted by the two of us (The Beast, adapted from Chekhov's The Bear). Wow. We swung for the fences, and couldn't be prouder to have shared with our new community what we're all about, and what you can expect in shows to come.
Know Your Onions
And They Never Recovered From The Shock
And just in case we felt we were being lazy or something... Infinite Spark also, delightfully, presented a segment in Nickel Flour's Fringe Show, Iconic. It was a song from a play I wrote a while ago (but about which you'll hear more in the following paragraph), and we had a lot of fun rehearsing and performing it!
Then we crashed for a month or so. :)
After some sleep and return to more everyday rhythms, I found myself drawn back to the first play I ever wrote, for my first theater company, back in 2012. It's called The Whistling Mortician, and over the years I've been slowly trying to rewrite the final 1/3 of the play. And finally, I cracked through to the big break I needed, and got a solid draft completed over the course of a week or so. And happily, this coincided with Thanksgiving, which saw the visit of original cast-member Eddie Jackson, who took part in the reading, and without whom any future production will not take place. :) (More on that, and this play, in future posts, yes?)
The next exciting project was Rachel's thrilling invitation to perform internationally with PUSH Physical Theatre at the 2022 International Jewish Festival, in Jerusalem. Rachel flew out the day after Thanksgiving, and took part in 3 performances over a few days, before taking some R & R in Tel Aviv. She caught a bug that took her out for a couple weeks following her return, but the first occasion of a long-held dream to perform internationally has been fulfilled!
Rachel, front and center, with PUSH Physical Theatre in Jerusalem
We closed out the year with a first for us, and with unexpected projects for the coming year. First, Rachel and I applied for grants for the first time ever. We applied for a total of four grants (two each, as individual artists, as Infinite Spark is as yet not a legal entity), with ideas for future projects. More to come on those, and whether we are awarded the grants or not, the process was inspiring, informative, and got us looking ahead more clearly than we otherwise would have.
And last, both Rachel and I got welcome news for engagements in the new year: almost simultaneously, Rachel got cast in The Company Theatre's next show "The Wisdom of Eve", as the fiery powerhouse Margot Crane. It goes up in February, and she's going to absolutely crush it! And for me, I got hired as an adjunct with University at Buffalo, teaching one Movement class for the Spring semester. I'm so excited! I've been looking for more teaching work the whole 2+ years we've been in Rochester, and this is my first bite. So grateful.
So here we are! Thanks to all who have accompanied us on this wild, growthful, everyday, surprise-filled journey so far. We are deeply anticipatory for what we'll get to share with you next.
Jon & Rachel, excited and determined