"People are very reluctant to talk about class. This experience has forever changed the way I write and teach," says playwright Anne Galjour.
Playwright Anne Galjour has met with many members of the Dartmouth and Upper Valley communities while in residence at Dartmouth as part of the Class Divide initiative. Her original play, You Can't Get There from Here, debuts at the Hop Nov. 7. From left: Kanika Searvance '11, Galjour, Angelina Laurent '11, and Nova Robinson '08. (Photo courtesy Hopkins Center for the Arts)
Galjour's original play, You Can't Get There from Here, based on life in the Upper Valley, premieres at the Hopkins Center Nov. 7 and 8 in the Warner Bentley Theater.
The Hopkins Center commissioned the work as part of Dartmouth's Class Divide initiative (see commentary here). The award-winning playwright immersed herself in the Upper Valley's social landscape.
The Hopkins Center has addressed "the last taboo subject in America," Galjour said. To develop You Can't Get There from Here, she conducted more than 100 interviews. Residents of New Hampshire and Vermont came together in story circles to discuss their experiences with socio-economic class.
Galjour also collaborated with Felice Yeskel, executive director of Class Action, a national resource center that runs workshops exploring issues of class. Galjour states, "The Class Action workshops gave me tools to dialogue with various groups in the community. The stories people shared in the story circles and interviews gave me characters, their circumstances, and the stakes in their lives. I learned about the patterns, codes of behavior, body language, and beliefs associated with different socio-economic groups."
Walt Hazelton, building maintenance worker for the Hopkins Center, participated in a story circle with Galjour. "I've been in my position for over 30 years, and Anne was very interested in my experience working at Dartmouth. I feel fortunate to have spent some time with her," he says.
Galjour's 1992 work Hurricane, set in the Cajun bayou country of Louisiana, was selected by the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) as one of the best three plays in regional theater and won the ATCA Osborn Award for Emerging Playwright in 1994. A native of southern Louisiana, Galjour often draws on her upbringing in developing her solo-performer plays. She also teaches playwrighting at San Francisco State University.
Following the Hop performances, Galjour will perform You Can't Get There from Here at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams, Mass., on Nov. 10 and 11; the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts in Burlington, Vt., on Nov. 14 and 15; and the Latchis Theater in Brattleboro, Vt., on Nov. 17. Additional shows are being scheduled for San Francisco and other U.S. cities.
By SARAH GOMEZ
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Last Updated: 12/17/08