The Quarry Project is a site-specific dance/theatre piece being created for the Wells Lamson quarry, one of the oldest, deepest granite quarry in the country, now flooded and in “reserve.” Previously owned by Rock of Ages and now owned by Polycor, a Quebec corporation, the quarry is in the small village of Websterville. Many residents had relatives who worked in the Wells Lamson, and many still work in the nearby active quarry.
In the spring of 2016, I began the process of securing permission to work in this extremely compelling and challenging site. During these eighteen months, while I negotiated with the corporation, I visited the site many times, alone and with several of my artistic partners.
In addition to discussions with my collaborators, initial meetings were held with a flotation expert, an engineer, an educator, Barre Town officials, and past supporters. In the areas unfamiliar to me but crucial to the permission and ultimate success of the piece, I enlisted a pro bono team of experts in the fields of law, insurance, and corporations. They guided me (and will continue to be available for the life of the project) through the tangle of rules and regulations.
2017 Summer Testing
While awaiting permission, we floated a 12×24’ prototype stage on a neighbor’s pond, inviting twelve dancers to spend a few hours discovering what kind of movements were successful on this surface that moved with them in unfamiliar ways. As we experimented, we spoke of water – how we originate from water, are made up of water/fluids, how strong a force it is for both sustenance and destruction, and all the feelings that arise around and in water.
At the end of August, we spent a day on the quarry testing sound, lights, color, set elements and perspective. Julia Barstow and Michael Fisher captured the essence on film. To finally be in this quarry, on the water, surrounded by stone, feeling this project that had been such a strong, pulling force, becoming a reality was profoundly moving.
Andric Severance and Sofia Hirsch, with an assortment of instruments, spent three hours in the morning on the stage in the quarry, testing the sonic environment and playing different musical ideas.
In the afternoon, my choreographic partner, Amy LePage, along with Laurel Jenkins and Coulter Cluett followed the same general pattern as the musicians, moving into all locations in the quarry while we observed the set, colors, and body language possibilities. Later, as the daylight faded, Amy and Laurel headed off on the stage again, into theatrical lights that had been rigged on the east rim of the quarry.
For more on the history of The Quarry Project, visit the newsletter archive