2015 + 2016 + 2017 Lab Artist: Ain Gordon
Ain Gordon is no stranger to VPL audiences. From 2011 to 2013 Gordon worked in VPL’s Lab to research and develop Not What Happened, an evening-length theater work that delved into Vermont’s 18th century history and explored the politics and ambiguities of our relationship to our past. Through his research residencies with VPL he worked with Forrest Holzapfel, a Marlboro-based historian and rural documentary photo artist, and with undergraduate students at Marlboro College.
Gordon is a three-time Obie Award-winning writer, director and actor, a two-time NYFA recipient and a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow in Playwriting. He has been commissioned by venues around the country to unearth marginalized histories as source material for live theater – particularly as these stories reside in geographical “place.”
In Fall of 2015, VPL welcomed Gordon back for a series of visits to support research into developing a new theater work, Radicals in Miniature. Gordon researched radical movements in the '60s and '70s and how those movements manifested locally in southern Vermont. VPL, Marlboro College and Green Mountain Crossroads joined forces to link his research with undergraduate coursework and a community oral history project.
The collaboration included the creation of an undergraduate seminar course "The Politics of Change: Radical Movements of the Late 20th Century" co-taught by American Studies and Gender Studies faculty Kate Ratcliff, Gender and Theater Studies faculty Brenda Foley, Executive Director of Green Mountain Crossroads HB Lozito, and Gordon. Students read, researched and interviewed people involved in the movements from the local community. The course culminated with student presentations "Radicals in these Hills: Oral Histories of Vermont in the '70s" in the Marlboro College Campus Center.
Gordon writes, “I source real lives for live theater, focusing new attention on those who drift or are forced to the historic margin. My last five works scoured the 19th century; forcing back decade-by-decade toward a contemporary view of our past cleansed of nostalgia’s distorting glow. Now I turn to a nearly immediate past that already grows invisible.”
Radicals in Miniature is a series of textual/sonic odes to a generation of political radicals from the late 20th century America who were titans of creativity, many of who were struck down by AIDS and are now forgotten. In May 2016, Gordon returned to VPL’s Lab with collaborators composer/performer Josh Quillen and dramaturge Talvin Wilks to workshop material and test the work as part of VPL’s Open Lab.