Laura, or Scenes from a Common World
Laura, or Scenes from a Common World, an original work from Square Top Theatre, explores the borderlands between film, theatre, dance, literature, and the contemporary fine arts. Laura combines visceral physicality, lyrical poetry, and evocative cinematography to explore one woman’s struggle to make herself at home in the world. Her struggle begins as a common one. A boy has left her. In losing him, she becomes less sure of the roles other people play in her self-creation. She seeks security in isolation only to find that landscape, community, and physical embodiment all ground who we are in ways she cannot escape. In this spare five-part drama, inspired by Ovid’s Apollo and Daphne myth, audiences see Laura seeking freedom by running away from the world, yet finding freedom, ultimately, in rootedness.
While remaining grounded in the narrative of Laura’s struggle, the film unfolds as a cinematic poem with colliding images, words, and evocative physicality. This is a film that invites audiences to complete the creative act. Poet Anne Micheals notes, “not two to make one, but two to make the third, just as a conversation can become the third side of the page.” We invite audiences to share in this conversation. We hope viewers will pause to contemplate as Laura stops to connect with the Northern landscape and the common world around her.
The project draws together artists from across the globe. Theatremaker Charles M Pepiton (USA/Washington), poet Damon Falke (USA/Norway), and artist Wes Kline (USA/New York) previously collaborated on Square Top Theatre’s Now at the Uncertain Hour, a theatrical event for live performance, online streaming, and broadcast radio, which reached a combined live onsite/offsite audience of 46,053 in its premiere performance. For Laura, this team is joined by printmaker Rebekah Wilkins-Pepiton (USA/Washington), costume designer Leslie Stamoolis (USA/Washington), performer Alexandra Kazazou (Greece/Poland), and movement director Daniel Han (USA/Australia).
The film was shot and the physical work was composed in June 2015 in Tromsø, Norway, where the interaction of elements symbolically significant for the piece – water, fire, earth – are dramatized by the land itself. In Norway, Laura finds the “acres of redemption” she seeks. She discovers that she must create her life out of what the world gives her – a boy picking apricots, an old woman shaping a boat, a father, a river, a stone.
The film runs 36:22. Digital. 16:9.
AVIFF Cannes 2016 – Interview
- Laura, or Scenes from a Common World – Square Top Theatre / Kolva-Sullivan Gallery – Dec. 6-31, 2019 – A new multi-channel re-edit of Laura, or Scenes from a Common World alongside a series of prints that combine relief printmaking techniques and handmade ink pours on paper, the original 5-part lyric poem, and sketches by the author. The installation bridges film, literature, and fine art by artists Charles M Pepiton, Rebekah Wilkins-Pepiton, Wes Kline, and Damon Falke. The show runs from December 6-31, 2019, with an opening reception on Friday, December 6th – 5-8pm and a mid-show reception on Friday, December 20th – 5-8pm. Kolva-Sullvan Gallery hours are also available by appointment: 509-458-5517.
- Shechem Press published the text of Damon Falke’s original poem Laura, or Scenes from a Common World in English with a Norwegian translation by Martin Egeberg. The book includes the director’s shooting score. Now available: Click here for more info.
- Laura named “Best Experimental Short” by Cinema on the Bayou!
- An official selection of Cinema on the Bayou in Lafayette, Louisiana (Jan 25-Feb 1, 2017). Laura screens on Sunday, January 29 at 9:00pm at Acadiana Center for the Arts. STT’s Charles M Pepiton and Wes Kline will participate in a panel discussion that afternoon.
- An official selection of 2016 AVIFF Cannes (May 17-19, 2016)
- NET/TEN Shareback: Audio Podcast
- P4 Radio Hele Norge AS – “An increasing number of foreigners will make films in Norway” (Norwegian) (English)
- “On Listening” by playwright Damon Falke at HowlRound.
- “Returns, Love, and Ovid’s Lessons of Change” by playwright Damon Falke at HowlRound
This project is made possible, in part, through a grant from the Network of Ensemble Theaters’ Travel & Exchange Network (NET/TEN), supported by lead funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.