Performers Without Borders

Dear friends, family and Performers Without Borders supporters,

How are you? Hope all is well! Check out our video from Calcutta:

PWB India 2015 Kolkata Project from Performers Without Borders on Vimeo.

Thanks to your support, we are all teaching and performing over 40 hours every week in India!

India is intense. The road has no rules, dodging chai wallas,  honking motor bikes, migrating herds of jurassic pooping water buffalo on thirty year old bikes. Not to mention on our backs the 3 meters of canvas, bags of diablos, juggling clubs, peacock feathers, plus a hitch hiking student on the wheel’s rim. Fortunately, the city streets of San Francisco and the Rockies have built my calves like a water buffalo.

Now, I am accustomed to clown cars, fitting 6 or 7 clowns and musicians, plus props, into an American Suburu outback. But India is the next level. We have had 9 people in a two seater took took (a tiny 3 wheeled car).  Our acrobalance training has paid off, as we sit on top of each other, hang off the sides, grasping onto gear, the acro mats on a canvas roof, swerving in and out of the urban slum areas, honking all the way, beep, beep, beep!

On Saturday, we hosted a hand-made circus prop making workshop for the kids, sponsored by our generous donors ;).  We used rice and cloth to hand sew poi, recycled bottles and wood for juggling clubs, and some fire staffs. Now the kids have tools to practice with during the year, and the know how to make more, before the next Performers Without Borders team arrives in spring 2016! We have been returning to Asha Deep for seven years, and the skill level and physical coordination of the students is very high. Thankfully, they are teaching me how to juggle and spin!

How can I pintpoint the ripple effect of teaching and cultivating art in young people, many of whom life will be full of economic struggle? How can we foresee the life paths of these blossoming artists, budding teachers, on the banks of the Ganga? How will their work move their communities? One such group of 13 year-olds, The Happy Talent Group, form their identity within juggling and circus. As we bid them farewell at our front gate, we said, “This world needs you as artists, and teachers, and you can make money doing it! Go out and rock on!” They smile, sad to see the weird circus leave town, hesitant to leave. As the world shifts and turns, as the global climate crisis increases, the work of bringing young people together, and facilitating collaboration, creativity, art and joy feels invaluable.

Sub Kuch Milenga ( Anything is Possible)
Namaste G,
Lillian Myers
Performers Without Borders
Benares, Uttar Pradesh
Naropa BFA: Theater 2012/2013

Spring MFA Guest Artists

The MFA classes of 2015 and 2016 are incredibly excited to work together as spring semester continues with upcoming Guest Artists. This past week was a wonderful transition with a 3 day Roy Hart Voice Intensive by Carol Mendelsohn and Saule Ryan from the Centre Artistique International Roy Hart.

Next week continues with the beginning of our Performance Project, which will culminate in a performance on March 20th at 7:30 PM, a collaboration between First and Second Year MFA classes. The project will be in part by Leigh Fondakowski of Tectonic Theater Project, as well as partly by Sean Graney of The Hypocrites.

There will be a receptions for both Artists and a discussion of their current projects:

HeadshotLeigh Fondakowski and Reeva Wortel (BFA, ’06) to talk about Spill on March 17th at 11:30 AM – 12:45 AM  (Naropa Students, Faculty and Staff only).

For those interested in reading more about Spill, click through for NPR article “Deepwater, Center-Stage: Disaster Through Survivors’ Eyes” by Eve Troeh.


Sean Graney will have a reception on Wednesday, March 11th from 7-9 PM (Open to Public) to discuss his project All Our Tragic. 

For those interested in reading about the piece, click through for a Chicago Tribune “★★★★” Review by Chris Jones.

Music Construction

The Music program is thrilled to be putting the finishing touches on the recording studio. Displayed following are some shots of the construction, for a behind the scenes look at how it’s all coming together. IMG_3770

There is a large classroom (above), large control room for teaching (below), a tracking room (below where the man is working in the ceiling), and an ISO booth which all connect into 3 small practice/recording spaces.IMG_3770

A glance at 2014…

Congratulations to Kirsten Wilson (2006 M.F.A. Theatre: Contemporary Performance Alumna) on receiving the NEA grant from the Boulder County Arts Alliance to make the One Action – Immigration project a reality, and Gleason Bauer (2007 M.F.A. Theater: Contemporary Performance Alumna) on receiving the 2014 True West Award for directing and designing SLAB!

Debris never looked more savage, beautiful and meaningful than it did scattered across the Atlas Theatre stage in Boulder for square product theatre’s world premiere of SLAB, a visceral, multimedia meditation on Hurricane Katrina. This portrait of disaster was expressed in such expanse and minute detail, I lingered after the play for almost an hour to study it up close as one might examine a museum exhibit – or a crime scene. Post-apocalyptic New Orleans, after all, was both.” —John Moore

Commendations to Samuel Jablom (2009 B.A. Writing and Literature Alumnus) for 2014 Freight+Volume exhibit Word: Play which ran August 21-September 27, and received reviews from Art NewsArt in America, BOMBWall Street Journal, and the Wild Magazine.

Here’s to 2015!



Enrique’s Journey in LA

BFA Undergraduate professor Lorenzo Gonzalez performed about 10 different roles in Su Teatro’s production of Enrique’s Journey, which closed last Friday November 7th at it’s run in Los Angelos for Encuentro 2014. In the production, Lorenzo utilized just about as many different accents to portray the characters following the trek of a young immigrant from Honduras across Mexico and into the U.S.A.

There are 10 companies conjoined from the members of the total 17 different theater companies attending Encuentro 2014. With 17 staged productions exploring the Latin@ experience onstage and 150 theater artists all across the U.S.A. including Puerto Rico, this festival is the most significant gathering of Latin@ theater artists to date including 2 Pulitzer prize winning plays. As part of the festival, Lorenzo is working on a devised piece with members from the other companies attending.

“Enrique’s Journey” LA Times Review by Margaret Gray

Eulogy for the Avant-garde

As performed by Teresa Veramendi, Naropa MFA 2016, at Naropa University on October 9, 2014, on the occasion of the funeral for the dearly departed.

eulogyI will begin by quoting from some of our holy books.

Ecclesiastes 3:11. God has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, God has put eternity into the human heart, yet so that we cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

The Qur’an. Surat al-Baqarah 2:216. And it may be that you dislike something even though it is good for you.

We must remember to celebrate the life of the American Avant-garde, to hear the piping from that distant parade even from of the 21st century. It has not been so very long, though some might call our gathering outdated, or gay. So be it! I believe the spirit of the American Avant-garde lives on in all of us, indeed is with us at this very moment.

Some days, I imagine a world where every human being could open their consciousness to the spiritual dimension. Where we could all know that not only are we not alone, not only will our actions reverberate for the rest of humanity’s existence, but that there is unending wisdom from the past saturating in the very words we speak every day. Avant-garde. Did any of us here today really know the Avant-garde? Did the Avant-garde ever really speak to us on the level of spiritual truth? I believe so, for all of us, in our own unique relationships.

If John Cage could be here today, I believe he would be proud of all the Avant-garde accomplished in its relatively short life – the union of theatre, music, and dance is real. The invitation for a deep critique of mainstream culture heavily scents the air, yet many artists are too afraid to make the art that is called for by the Avante-garde, and by our time, as our species ambulates around the earth’s tipping point.

The illnesses ailing the Avant-garde were various: late American imperial crony capitalism, the general standards of decency and respect for the diverse beliefs and values of the American people, the well-intentioned academia, and technology.

I can speak personally and say that the Avant-garde changed my life, and I believe the Avant-garde will continue to alter my path, from beyond the grave. A romantic sensibility about a utopian future lives on in my heart. Many Americans are afraid to look forward since our path spells disaster.  The Avant-garde prods us, insisting that we must look forward, we must create visions of a future we might have, particularly when no one else will. The Avant-garde taught me to believe that there must be many ways to radically restructure the way the average human being sees theatre and life. There is still so much work to be made. So many truths to learn. So many products to sell! Okay that was tongue-in-cheek.

But really, what is the Avant-garde? What do Richard Schechner and Robert Wilson really have in common? And if we cannot discreetly define a thing, can we really be sure it’s dead?

Written by Teresa Veramendi
Naropa MFA Candidate 2016

Warrior Songs

Naropa presents a five-movement choral concerto by founding music faculty member, artist, jazz drummer, and improvising percussionist Jerry Granelli, in collaboration with composer Peter-Anthony Togni with funding from the Canadian government. Boulder’s Ars Nova Singers, one of the leading choral ensembles in the U.S., in its 28th season, will perform the piece. Anchored in Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s poetry, the work also draws from the Spanish mystic St. John of the Cross, the Roman Catholic liturgy, Da Pacem, and a speech Malcolm X gave in March 1964.

The Warrior Songs project gratefully acknowledges funding support from Arts Nova Scotia.

Video by Paul Fowler
Naropa School of the Arts Associate Professor

Tickets can be ordered via EventBrite

eTown Music Hall, Boulder, CO

Saturday, October 11, 7:30pm
Sunday, October 12, 2:00pm

A portion of all ticket sales will benefit Naropa’s School of the Arts student scholarships. If unable to attend one can support from afar by purchasing a ticket which can be donated to a student who otherwise would not be able to attend.

Naropa Alumni Miss Their MTV in 2014′s Boulder Fringe Festival

When creator/director Colleen Mylott invited me to be a part of the creative process in the development of the Band of Tough’s (BoT’s) newest dance-theatre performance I MISS MY MTV, I immediately invited her out to coffee to discuss the project further. After years of devising, I discovered that this invitation is necessary before I agree to work on any large-scale performance project for a significant amount of time. It is important to me to know that the director values my time, my interest and my process and I have learned though trial and error that I can usually predict the quality of my experience from this initial one-on-one meeting.

Colleen and I met at the Laughing Goat coffee house late one night where I ate a delicious cupcake while she beamed about how excited she was for the project. We discussed her aesthetic and her vision for the piece and she invited me to jump head first into the creative unknown with her. She spoke to me about the BoT’s value in collectively created material and was clearly hungry to see what a group of other performers/artists could bring to the table. Her excitement was infectious and I left that meeting knowing that the process of discovering this piece would be a process I couldn’t miss out on!

The BoT’s was founded by a large group of (mostly) Naropa University Performance Alums and the company has continued to hold the values of Naropa’s creative environment within their process. They have somehow managed to truly integrate the various trainings that Naropa’s performance programs have to offer to develop their new works. With a blend of performance trainings from Suzuki & Viewpoints to LaBan effort actions added to a mix of performer-generated compositions (heavily influenced by Tectonic Theatre’s “Moment Work,”) the output was enormous. And the epoch 75min performance most certainly echoes’ its process!

The I MISS MY MTV directing and performance team is made up of 16 wildly talented individual artists and a solid 9 of us listed below are proud graduates of Naropa University:

Colleen Mylott, MFA – Director/Creator – BOTs Founding Member
Elizabeth Horab, MFA – Assistant Director

David Ortolano, BA – Performer/Musician – BOTs Founding member
Cynthia Ward, MFA – Performer – BOT Founding member
Karina Constantino, BFA – Performer – Associate Member BOTs
Monica Dionysiou, MFA – Performer
Kebrina De Jesus, MFA – Performer
Raheli Mendleson, BFA – Performer
Jenn Zuko, MFA – Performer

I MISS MY MTV premiered Friday Sept 19 as a part of the Boulder International Fringe Festival.
for more information and tickets click the link above)

Written by Monica Dionysiou
Naropa MFA Graduate 2013

The Gay Fantasia

Journey to Fringemeister
a postmodern poem

not part of the mainstream; unconventional, peripheral or extreme.

combining form
denoting a person regarded as skilled or prominent in a specified area of activity.

Gay Fantasia began in a steamy summer studio session under the guidance of the indelible Leeny Sack in Lafayette Colorado. A box of twinkies picked up at the corner store en route to a week long artistic work making session where the focus was NOT, thesis topics and genres.

Legs up and we began….

Twinkies on the chest while I rest my head, my mind explores the possibly of why I spent $3.95 on the tasty, bankrupt, treat. Harvey Milk was the start and then I opened my heart to the scores of men that filled my mind from a plague of epic proportion and size; they poured out of my sockets into the pockets of the prohibition air conditioned space. Tears streamed down my face.

Foundation laid GAY FANTASIA was to be made.

Seven months of Tuesday nights and finally an opening. Panels hung with devastating pride. People weeping with sadness at final light of the night. Fantasia closed. Thesis complete. I tied a ribbon around that book and set off toward the sea.

Iteration II.

Get out the Endust.

Eight months have lapsed Gay Fantasia long since passed, but then he got FringeD.

The gay haunted house brought back to life the hope of honoring Warriors bright. A coming home for this Florissant fag; Immerse midwest into the plague.

Ronald Reagan Realness.

A scummy punk bar was to be his new home amidst the grime, grit, guitar strings for sale. Perfect. Fog machine on. Lesson learned be easy to work with so respect is earned. Brown out during his only tech made us think about how to project. Liz. We worked it out. Clip lights ready collapsible wall steady the Village People.

We end.

A man cried when we met after the fact he didnʼt share his name or his past but we both
knew. I cried too:

“This is why we made the piece…so people know…so people remember THEM…so….”

Closing night party and I was drinking a beer feeling good about the feedback honest
and clear.

Late in the night I was taken aback when the Exec Dir said, “Now letʼs hear from the

We looked at each other…ugh…I had no idea they were at bay always afraid of what
they might say.

I prepped myself to hear the worst. Landon said Gay Fantasia and I felt hurt…breathe…trust the work…breathe…trust your voice…breathe…trust. He made beautiful and fair remarks deeming the work his pick of the arts…Gay Fantasia was a finalist. Sparkle Ta DAAA!!! was right there beside Naropa was proud of these two midwesterners that night.

The Victor WITH Pride FOR Pride FOR the WARRIORS…for Mark, Ron, Darren,

A blow of the horn a hat adorned a Festival closed.

Matthew R. Kerns


not part of the mainstream; unconventional, peripheral or extreme.

combining form
denoting a person regarded as skilled or prominent in a specified area of activity.

Written by Matthew R Kerns
Naropa MFA Graduate 2013
Salt House Collective CO-Founder
Artistic Director, Waterloo Community Playhouse

#GratefulStLouFringe #SaltHouseCollective #MakeWork2013Ensemble