WESTMINSTER WEST >> Interdisciplinary and award-winning choreographer Ann Carlson will be in residency at Vermont Performance Lab (VPL) for two weeks this September to develop a new performance work, "Doggie Hamlet." Carlson's performance pieces borrow from the disciplines of dance, performance, theater, visual and conceptual art and often dismantle conventional boundaries between artist and subject. Doggie Hamlet is no different: its cast features dancers, musicians, herding dogs, and a flock of sheep.
Carlson is the recipient of over thirty commissions and numerous awards for her artistic work. She has collaborated with a number of animals in her earlier works, including horses, dogs, cats, cows, fish, and goats, who have all performed live with her. In Doggie Hamlet, Carlson explores instinct, sentience, attachment, and loss, and draws on elements from William Shakespeare's Hamlet, Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book, and the 2008 novel, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, by David Woblewski to create a unique outdoor performance spectacle that recalls the bucolic impression of a landscape painting or a 3D pastoral poem.
To bring Ann Carlson and her team to Vermont, VPL is collaborating with Yesenia and David Major of Vermont Shepherd Farm to present two preview performances of Doggie Hamlet at the Major's 250-acre farm in Westminster West. This collaboration grew out of a series of planning visits through VPL with Carlson, and dog handler Diane Cox. In September, Carlson and Cox will bring five performers and three trained herding dogs to work with local musicians and 25 sheep from the Major herd for an intensive rehearsal process to develop "Doggie Hamlet."
"We anticipate that 'Doggie Hamlet' will be a vital gathering point for an unlikely but allied community, including dog enthusiasts, scientists in environmental ecology, sheep farmers, music, dance and performance enthusiasts, families and more," says VPL Director Sara Coffey.
On Friday and Saturday, VPL will present preview performances of "Doggie Hamlet" at Vermont Shepherd Farm in Westminster West . Tickets are $10 to $15 and reserving tickets in advance is strongly recommended as the performances are expected to sell out. Tickets can be purchased at vermontperformancelab.org/events.
VPL encourages audiences to wear comfortable shoes and dress for the outdoors. In addition, due to the sensitive nature of the performance, no dogs are allowed at the performance site. Any patron who brings a dog will not be permitted on site.
This Vermont Performance Lab residency and preview performances are made possible with support from the New England Foundation for the Arts' National Dance Project, the National Endowment for the Arts, and VPL's Creation Fund donors. This event is part of Vermont Arts 2016 – a project of the Vermont Arts Council.