This hybrid performance was an exploration of the experiences of an American soldier with PTSD alternating with video accounts of and an Iraqi girl blogger. Much of the emotional environment of their stories was created through the visual elements. Evans, professor of playwriting at Georgetown is a social justice writer, and her choice of subject matter, poetic style, and collaborative work method were a perfect match for my artistic sensibilities. While the characters’ stories overlap and enmeshed with one another through live feed and virtual reality video, the scenery functioned as a container for the journey through the chaos. A drab government office transformed seamlessly into a virtual reality world of war torn Iraq, only to throw the characters back into an airless room in seconds. The multimedia design component, by Jared Mezzocchi, featured cutting edge virtual reality software on loan from a US government science program. It was an exhilarating challenge to work closely with a highly skilled video designer implementing sophisticated equipment that had never been used in a theatrical environment. This production remounted as Closer Than They Appear at Streetsigns Center, North Carolina in 2017.
The New York Times has called HERE “one of the most unusual arts spaces in New York and possibly the model for the cutting-edge arts spaces of tomorrow.” Indeed, HERE has become successful at creating a new kind of arts enterprise—the collaborative multiarts center. In 22 years, we’ve supported over 14,000 artists and attracted over 950,000 arts patrons. We aim to integrate art into daily life and engage our community’s needs and interests on as many different levels as possible in order to ensure our regular presence in their lives. Over the last 22 years, HERE and the work presented HERE have garnered 16 OBIE awards, two OBIE grants for artistic achievement, a 2006 Edwin Booth Award (“for Outstanding Contribution to NY Theatre”) from the CUNY Graduate Center, five Drama Desk nominations, two Berrilla Kerr Awards, four NY Innovative Theatre Awards and a Pulitzer Prize nomination. We believe that our multidisciplinary approach is the way to engage the audiences of tomorrow, ensuring a healthy and productive future for the performing arts field at large.