By Andrew Harris, 11/18/21
Professor Eliza Beckwith from Alfred University reached out a few weeks ago about a project she and a group of students were working on. Beckwith teaches in the Theatre program and is guiding students in the Collaborative Performance Lab through a unique project that culminates in theatre.
Beckwith describes this style of performance as, Investigative Theatre, in which the process of building the narrative is as important as the delivery. Students decide on a topic and then dive into the story as both a journalist and performer. A key aspect of this style is that the script is comprised of direct quotes gathered over a series of interviews and research.
The group invited me over for a mutual interview: They interviewed me about the time period I can speak first hand about and how Wellsville evolved from the “born in Wellsville, never really left,” perspective. Since much of the project is focused on a history of the economics of Wellsville I have some good experience as a former Main Street merchant. The group asked me great questions about the changes I’ve seen since my days as a kid on a bike shopping for candy at Newberries to some work I’ve done to improve the downtown landscape.
I interviewed the group of three student/performers about their process and expected outcome. They plan to visit Wellsville and talk more with residents with other perspectives. Each conversation they have will create the dialogue that they plan to perform. The performance intends to present the words of those involved in this investigative art in a sequence and style which tells a story, a story of Wellsville NY.
The performance is free and open to the public on December 8th, 2021 at 4 PM in the CD Smith Theatre. As Beckwith explains, “It will be very much a “workshop” performance, but open to the public.”