Making Art in 2017: Jennifer Blaine on The Vicissitudes of Travel
Name: Jennifer Blaine
Show in 2017 Festival: The Vicissitudes of Travel
Role: Writer, Performer
Fringearts: Tell us about your show.
Jennifer Blaine: As a girl my family would do a lot of traveling to foreign countries, art museums, funky restaurants, and though things would sometimes go very wrong, we were always encouraged to try to find something redeeming in it all. My parents would always say as a sort of mantra, “Well honey, it’s the vicissitudes of travel!”
The travel I’m exploring in this show is about traveling through memories, personalities, and perceptions, and exploring how we define ourselves based on our relationship to whomever we love. Watching someone go through brain issues or life-threatening illness reveals that our connection with them may be precarious, which may leave us feeling vulnerable. The show asks, “What is it like to go beyond a personality to reach the person?” Karen Getz and I have created an imagined scenario with a family on a tour bus while going through the brother’s surgery. It is not just elements of my personal story, but rather an archetypal depiction of the inevitable tour bus we must all take through mortality, loss, and love at some point. It is emotionally the most intimate work I have ever created and probably my most dramatic solo show to date.
FringeArts: How have your interests in or approach to art making changed in the last year?
Jennifer Blaine: I’m so grateful to Karen Getz for guiding me through this process. She told me at the beginning that it might take a long time for the piece to emerge, but if we kept showing up it would take the form it most wanted to be. That’s new for me. I can’t believe how outrageous, heart-centered, irreverent, and satisfying the piece is! It’s been such a rewarding process collaborating with Karen because she innovates constantly and somehow as a director, improviser, and writer always has the perfect agenda for us to progress the creative work to the next step.
We are also continuing to look at how we want the audience to experience this work. Part of how we are creating it is with a breakthrough for the audience in mind. What is the impact on them?
FringeArts: Tell us about an instance from 2017 when your interaction with art provided some much needed solace or refuge from outside troubles.
Jennifer Blaine: Working on Vicissitudes is actually THE affirmation of what I know I need and I suspect what others do too during this precarious time—finding new connections, becoming more creative in how we look at impasses, and encouraging others to express themselves and become more creative. The show seeks to transform how we hold a traumatic brain injury as an event, but also uses the performance itself to transform the audience from spectators into agents of action. Each show will end with an opportunity to make art in some way. The characters courageously muscle through and triumph. The audience is reminded that they can too and are given a supported chance to practice that.
The Vicissitudes of Travel
Jennifer Blaine and Karen Getz
$20 / 90 minutes
Sept. 10, 16, 22 @ Philadelphia Ethical Society, 1906 Rittenhouse Square