THE HABITAT BLOG
Goings on of The Habitat Community
By Kelleen Moriarty
Tell us about the project you are working on with The Habitat.
I am staging a sixteen-poem series called “Our Heroine” based on a mythic modern day female anti-heroine. It’s a poetry series, so I’m trying to investigate how the material, if it’s not inherently theatrical, becomes theatrical by putting bodies in space. And it’s also heavily concerned around the female experience, identification, and bodies, and the ways that they are policed and abused both by themselves and by the world at large. So it’s really important to figure out how these bodies operate in space.
So how did you come to this project?
I was actually really lucky. A friend of mine started a writers’ residency retreat in Nicaragua last year and I ended up going. I didn’t know what I was going to write – at all. I was reading a lot of books with female protagonists. There’s this line in a book I was reading called Lady in a Battle Dress where the author talks about the differences between being a heroine and being a hero. Things like being self-sacrificing and not having a grandiose ego are just inherently a part of being a heroine. I was struck by that because I thought—well, in a hero that’s considered to be a fatal flaw but it doesn’t disqualify you from being considered a hero—so how do we not consider that in the same way for a woman? I was reading Jane Eyre and The Bell Jar and other classic texts and asking myself “why do we consider these women seminal figures in literature? In what ways are they breaking the rules? What would it take for a female figure to break the rules?” And then I wrote, piece-by-piece-by-piece. Some of them are conversations between many different generations of women. Some of them are just poems. I was really curious – you know, apart from the fact that I’m a theater artist and everything I do I consider in the medium of theater- what to do with this text that I didn’t necessarily plan on writing as a piece of theater.
How did you learn about The Habitat?
I met Katie first. She assistant directed a show that I was in when I was still acting. I met Sarah Stites when she was producing the Prelude Festival. And Caroline at the Segal Center as well when I was volunteering and also doing some producing stuff for the Prelude Festival a couple years ago. And so, all of them separately were in my zeitgeist and then I started seeing that they had a theater company and they would host things and then I looked at this and I was like “awesome.”
What have you gained and learned, both personally and artistically, from the Directors Playground?
A lot. I’ve always built my own processes and found my own resources. I built things to have public showings in order to convince performers that they should work with me. That led to showing things before they were ready, and this feeling that I had to produce a product rather than just go through a process. So for me, The Directors Playground has been really game-changing. To be able to be like “Yeah. We didn’t really figure anything out today but we talked about what it means to be a woman which is really important to the overall understanding of what this piece is” To not feel pressure and to not feel the economic burden of that is really amazing.
Also, to have the space to figure out this piece that is difficult to pitch to people because it’s hard to explain is really great. I have figured a lot out about the piece and what I want it to be through The Directors Playground. Then, I’ve learned so many new techniques from watching other people’s processes. I went to school for performance and the way that I watched directors was by being directed by them. Then I assisted. Being able to watch other directors work in a variety of different ways and having different ways of handling things is amazing. It’s made me more curious about what I can do and different possibilities for me as a director and also how different directors live their lives.
What do you see as the future of Our Heroine?
I have a really bold vision for this. I want it to be formed by at least 20 women, who are inhabiting our heroine at different moments in time and is performed by different numbers of them. I don’t know where that is in terms of space but I imagine a very big choral situation. I want it to be a fundraiser of some sort for Planned Parenthood. That’s as far as I’ve gotten with it. I have pipe dreams of where it should be.