May & August 2022: A new ‘solo’ work premiered.
THE STANDING NATION, Remembering our kinship with Trees
A site-specific performance by Mik Kuhlman, written with Tess Clark
Performed in secret locations in the forest or under historic trees.
SOLO never means SOLO…
23 Directly involved in the show
1 Creative Artist
5 Artistic Collaborators
11 Production and Marketing
9 Community Partners
Vashon Repertory Theatre (producing partner for the premiere!)
Vashon Maury Land Trust
Vashon Wilderness Program
Vashon Green School
Vashon Center for the Arts Blue Heron
Vashon Maury Landmark Trees
Heather & Marc Timkin
Hanna Barn Studios
Suzanne Hubbard/Sandy Brown
32 Educational Outreach
VCA’s Earth Day Nature Printing – Adults
Vashon Wilderness Program – Kids
257 Audience Members – 13 shows
Two workshop productions at Black Cat Cabaret at SnapDragon
Eight shows with Vashon Repertory Theatre
One private show
Four shows at The Mother Tree
GRAND TOTAL enrolled in the project: 321
Thirty years of feminine perspective infused into forestry research has radically shifted our understanding of trees and forest ecology. More social than we ever could have imagined, trees have the ability to share across species and strategize across forests. It’s not “survival of the fittest”—it’s “survival of the whole.”
I am taking an intimate audience of 20 into secret forest groves and landmark locations to perform a show for, about and with trees! So far we have had public show/public land; private show/private land; and public show/private land. I am collaborating with my long time muses: Patricia Toovey (costume and visuals) and Sally Sykes-Wylie (movement); as well as new collaborations with sound designer, performing live with me, Max Sarkowsky; director Samantha Sherman; and my dear friend from my graduate school days at CalArts, writer Tess Clark who has guided us into this profound and timely subject matter straight from the heart. and of course, “Mother Tree” who welcomed us from our first dreaming tea with the artistic team to the magical shows under her canopy.
Charlotte Tiencken (who is doing amazing work incubating new works of theatre in the middle of a pandemic!) and Vashon Repertory Theatre co-produced the premiere with extra production support from Tami Stone, Jill Bulow, Maria Glanz, Pheobe Ray, and Jemma Pereña. Duncan Berry has designed our logo.
With the climate crisis at our feet, I am feeling called to lean in where I can. I am determined to contribute art for the whole of humanity with a goal of connecting people to forests and their ability to teach us how to live.
The winter brings us into a deepening of the work. Next spring we will be offering the show for public or private events both on Vashon Island, in the Seattle area and anywhere anyone wants to bring us. My desire is to then bring the show to other communities and conservancy organizations, to their forests, to their people, to their Standing Nation.
Photos by Michelle Bates
SUMMER 2020: An artistic response to COVID-19…
WHAT THE DUCK?!
Get out the vote campaign for 2020.
Ducks: Mik Kuhlman, Meghan Ames, Maria Glanz
Additional Ducks: Janet McAlpin, Martha Enson
Photos: Jeff Dunnicliffe
I perform annually with UMO at the Oregon Country Fair, which of course, did not happen in 2020. My quest during Covid has been to bring theatre to the street so I pulled from my suitcases my three duck masks collected over years of visiting Newman’s Masks booth at the fair. Three years in a row I brought home a duck. One of the ducks became a character for GRAVITY OF KINDNESS and then an UMO show, RED, and then for Vashon’s SWAMPBOTTOM. For 2020, the three took to the street to help in the efforts to get out the vote.
BEAUTY: Completely in Your Hands
Open Space For Arts and Community Distance Dance Commission
Your Kind hands, what beauty, what kindness, what gifts can you give.
Performer: Mik Kuhlman
House & Set Design: Patricia Toovey
Venue Partner: Voice of Vashon
VOV: Kate Dowling, Jeff Hoyt
Lighting: Aj Epstein
Sound: Michael Keck, Bob Moses
Rigging: Jon Schroeder, Bob Kueker
Signage: Jemma Pereña
Photos: Jeff Dunnicliff, Valerie Vossa
Commissioned through Open Space’s putting Artists Back to Work program, and reimagining yet another theatre prop I partnered with VOV to insert my silk and bamboo house from HOUSE #30 into a live radio broadcast station’s storefront window. Performing behind the glass window, we explored themes of isolation, hand washing, and human connection in this time of Covid. A stand alone porcelain sink transformed the ‘house’ into a washroom. The words above laced the window sill accented with sets of brown and white tiny hands. During the day, it was an art installation and a pop up unannounced one time performance at night.
HUMANKIND. Be Both.
Performers: Mik Kuhlman and Utisah Durahim
Signs by: Jemma Pereña Photos by: Jeff Dunnicliff
Volunteers included Sally Sykes, Maria Glanz, and Vashon’s gardeners
with additional encouraging support from Vashon’s Emergency Operations Center.
A visual messaging for our mental health with a flower give-away using a giant James Chesney chair from the lobby of Vashon Center for the Arts and a tiny Indonesian chair from Dianne Grob with ten different gardeners heeding a call for flowers at a moment’s notice. Additional signs invited the public to “Take one for yourself” “Take one for a friend” “Give one to a stranger”
THE NOSE KNOWS
An interactive public service announcement in collaboration with Patricia Toovey
Featuring UMO Ensemble’s Nose
with Vashon physical theatre artists:
Mik Kuhlman, Martha Enson, David Godsey, Janet McAlpin, Lynelle Sjoberg
Photos by Michelle Bates / Video: Jeff Dunnicliff
Sign by Kai Godsey / Nose painted by Steffon Moody
On Friday, June 19 in the afternoon between 3-6pm and Saturday, June 20th from 10-1pm at the 4-way stop by US Bank, A nose is coming out of storage to help Vashon Island in the fight against Covid-19.
The nose is part of an iconic giant puppet built in 1990 by the founding members of UMO Ensemble, paraded and beloved in countless theatre events, festivals, street fairs, and protests. Conceptual artist and test site volunteer Patricia Toovey, created a large scale testing swab to accompany the nose as a means to delightfully inform our community of on island testing for Covid-19.
BIG RED COVID
Street messaging featuring a giant red coat and a tiny masked face inside, 13′ in the air.
At the start of the pandemic, Island stitchers took to their machines, sewed and distributed over 6,000 masks for free to our community. I noticed tourists arriving without them and wanted to do what I could to give to the whole of my island home. So I brought my theatre prop out to the street to bring magic and messaging. The purpose was to greet visitors to Vashon at the moment they disembarked from ferries, and urge them to wear masks and consider the fate of an island community with limited healthcare resources.
The 9’x6′ coat was created in 2006 by the fabulous Patricia Toovey for my show SPLIT SECOND. It has been adapted through the years for other shows with UMO Ensemble and at Vashon’s Gravity of Kindness. It’s what got the whole ball a rolling…