MILTON is a three-person performance comprised of spoken word and song that examines what it means to be American through the lens of small-town life. Watch this trailer of our premiere in Milton, NC (August 2014), or listen to a WUNC radio interview Katie did with two Milton, NC locals– it’s a wonderful way to get a sense of the scope of the whole project.
The production is a culmination of two years’ worth of visits made by PearlDamour— the performance-making duo of Katie Pearl and Lisa D’Amour— to five towns named Milton across the United States. Katie and Ashley were in their visits joined by Community Engagement Strategist/Dramaturg Ashley Sparks. In Wisconsin, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Louisiana, and Oregon, PearlDamour interviewed local residents and community groups about where they live and how they define their role in the world. The result is an experimental performance about American community involving scale models of Milton’s landmarks, artifacts from each town, and large video projections of the five skies over the five towns, captured in each Milton. The performance will be brought back to each town before expanding to bigger cities, and Milton, N.C., will be the first place it is presented.
Part poem, part song, and part video installation, this surprising production showcases PearlDamour’s unique, adventurous aesthetic. The company has often created theater for unusual spaces; past performance sites include an empty office building and a bridge over the Mississippi River. With the production of MILTON, PearlDamour aims to bring experimental performance to communities that rarely have access to it, offering new perspectives on how to share stories of one’s history, town, and individual experience. Later performances in larger cities will reveal the complexities of the small-town experience, and draw connections between communities across America.
We hope you will join us for the next production of MILTON, anticipated to happen in Milton-Freewater, OR in Spring, 2016. We will always put any ticket, lodging and direction info, on our show info page.
For more information on the history of this project, read on…
PearlDamour’s MILTON project began in 2012, when we (PearlDamour – a New York based performance making company that has worked almost exclusively in big cities) began to ask ourselves: Does an “American Community” actually exist? How can we find it? What can we learn from it? In order to discover an answer, we chose 5 towns with the same name—Milton— in North Carolina, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Louisiana and Oregon, and began a series of visits, talking with local Miltonians about their lives and world views. The conversations we’ve been having range from casual encounters to formal interviews. In general, we present our interviewees with four questions and invite them to answer any or all of them: How did you get to Milton? If there were one thing you could change about the world, what would it be? What is your advice for future generations? What do you think our purpose is here on this earth? Our goal with our interviews is to dream along with the Miltonians we meet. Thus far, the responses have led to fantastic, serpentine conversations about the nature of the individual, living within a community, here in America.
In researching and preparing for the performance, we are working with Community Engagement Strategist Ashley Sparks to get to know each town and the pressing issues and needs of the community. We then work to collaborate with them on how our performance can be a catalyst for conversation and action around these issues. We’ve found the residents and business owners of Milton, NC to be especially interested in the ways that tourism – especially tourism related to craft, visual arts, music and food – can help revitalize their small town. We’ve had a wonderful time collaborating with them on their First Annual Street Fair (June 20-22, 2014). Our own booth at the fair had information about our performance, and we “built the sky” during a cloud-making workshop for families and hosted two story circles with town elders.
MILTON is a new adventure for us. For the last 16 years, we have been creating performances that experiment with form — our shows often happen outside of theaters, and the story is usually not told in a linear fashion. We are interested in bringing experimental performance to smaller towns that usually don’t get a chance to see that sort of thing. We also know that we have a lot to learn from these towns we are visiting. We chose our Miltons according to size, demographic, and location: together, they stretch across the United States, forming an earth-bound constellation. By traveling to towns we’d never need to go to and talking to people we’d never have reason to meet, we seek to discover the story of this new constellation.
This website will be changing and growing as we continue to visit the Miltons and bring our project to each one over the next years. Please explore the website! You can see profiles of people from each Milton, information about each town, skies over the Miltons, and, if you live in a Milton, there are questions you can answer. For more about PearlDamour’s history, click here.
Milton is supported by the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), MAP Fund, Irving Linn Charitable Trust, the Danville Regional Foundation, the NEA, and hundreds of generous individual donors.
RECENT/UPCOMING MILTON VISITS
May – The show in MA!
March- MILTON show installation at the library in Milton, MA
Jan – MLK Day visit in Milton, MA
Nov – MILTON show installation at the library in Milton, MA
Oct – Milton Reflecting launches in Milton, MA
June- The show in Oregon!
Jan – Milton-Freewater, OR (Our town project continues)
Nov – Milton, MA (Katie gives the reflection during Milton’s “Thanks for Giving Service” where locals are recognized for their service to the town. You can read her speech here.
Oct – Milton-Freewater, OR (Our Town grant activities begin! School workshops! Site identified for show! Story circles with the Latino community!)
Sep/Oct – Milton, MA (community planning meetings)
May – Milton-Freewater, OR (cinco de mayo follow up)
April – Milton-Freewater, OR (community cohort building and planning)
March- Milton, MA (Citizens for a Diverse Milton meeting)
Feb- Milton, NC (continued planning)
Nov- Milton, NC (Performance Festival planning)
Oct- Milton, NC (Street Fair planning)
Oct- Milton, MA (Celebrate Milton!)
Oct- Milton, WI
Aug- Performance in Milton, NC