I went to see Coming Full Circle, a talk and documentary screening delivered by Jenny Anne Koppera. During her speech, Koppera spoke of establishing herinternational Theatre company, Spinning Dot Theatre. She began with the question:
“Is it crazy to create a Theatre company that takes new plays from all over the world and try to put them on in Ann Arbor, Michigan?”
She detailed how her company pulls work from emerging international writers and gives them a platform where their plays can be performed. When her company of Young Actors from Ann Arbor (USA) first put on these international productions for the local public, Koppera admitted to her audience that her mission was crazy.
“Yes, it is crazy. But it’s good crazy.”
After the screening, I caught up with Koppera’s former Professor from Northwestern University, Rives Collins. In my interview with Collins, we spoke about “good crazy” and embracing Theatre with a sense of wonder.
Josephine Lane [Dialogue] (JL): So what did you think of Coming Full Circle?
Rives Collins (RC): I thought it was thrilling. I’ve known that Jenny has a special spirit for a long time. Who knew that one day I’d be here celebrating the early work of Spinning Dot Theatre? Jenny is doing something that, to the best of my knowledge, no one in the US is doing. I don’t know if anyone is doing this anywhere. So here is an artist with a vision to do something new.
“I celebrate those who are willing to take a leap of faith and to bring something new to the world.” – Rives Collins
JL: Have you seen anything else at the Cradle of Creativity that you think is a good example of “good crazy”?
RC: There’s a lot of good crazy. I loved seeing Gretel and Hansel. I liked the form. It was a circle of chairs on a bare stage. I think sometimes we think we need a lot of stuff in the Theatre, but it was something that was elemental and beautiful. I also saw Full Moon. I found it very profound as it invited us to think about human nature and violence against one another and the purpose of faith. It took us to a hopeful place but we had to go through some dark times to get there.
JL: How would you sum up your experience at the Cradle of Creativity?
RC: To sum it up, there are brave artists, forging their own paths. No matter where we come from in the world, our passion for Children and Young People connects us. So I feel a sense of diversity and uniqueness and a profound sense of connected-ness.
JL: And tell me a bit about yourself?
RC: I delivered a keynote here about storytelling on the Focus Day. I would say that I am first and foremost a Storyteller. That is at the heart of everything I do. I’m also a Director. I work with a Theatre company called Adventure Stage Chicago, whose mission is to corrupt the generational cycle of poverty through Theatre. It’s very powerful. For me, there’s a fine line between my work and my play. I think having a sense of wonder is a life skill. It’s been said that the atrophy of wonder is one of the great hazards of adulthood.
“Theatre offers an infusion of wonder that’s an antidote to the cynicism and the boredom that plagues our modern life.” – Rives Collins