It was after doing that training that Barrie first had the inspiration and vision for what has evolved into the Story Choreography Project, which has produced 18 authentic theatre productions over the last thirteen years the first one hitting the Diana Wortham stage in 2006. Each project enlists 10-15 participants—many of whom have no prior dance, theatre or voice experience—who work together under Barton’s direction to script and choreograph moving theatrical pieces that express those very participants’ personal life stories.
Normally, when people go out to see a play, they become enthralled with the characters who are acting out a story which may or may not have anything to do with the actors themselves—but with SCP productions, explains Barton, “The audience is is actually hearing and seeing the stories of the people who are before them, acting them out—”And through this experience, [the audience] can hear their own story—which is what this is all about.”
In it’s first incarnation, SCP staged productions that took a year to script and produce which were performed for ticketed audiences at Diana Wortham, with partial proceeds benefitting local nonprofits. But about about five year’s ago, Barton simplified the SCP approach to make each production more accessible and streamlined. Now, each project is the culmination of a nine-week workshops and is staged at Jubilee! Community .
Who are the participants in SCP productions?
“A common denominator,” Barton says, “is that it attracts folks who enjoy a self-reflective process, community and camaraderie.”
And those three things are exactly what people gain through their participation. It’s also what the audience gains from watching, says Barton, as the stories shared end up extending beyond just the personal journeys of the actors—but also creating into a communal journey as audience members identify with the experiences and stories being expressed, and then ultimately a “universal journey”.
Each SCP production is based on a theme and title, which is determined before participants register. Barton intentionally names each project with the goal of creating universally relatable themes. This May, SCP will be debuting Our Friends: Liking, Laughter, Longing and Loss, proceeds from ticket sales will benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of WNC (CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS).
“With the ‘friends’ theme, I couldn’t ignore the call to partner with Big Brothers Big Sisters. If just seems too perfect,” says Barton. Over the course of this particular workshop, 15 participants have been exploring their personal stories revolving around friendship, and Barton says that the journey has been interesting and revealing.
“When you hear the word “friends” it may not immediately conjure the multi-level topics that the word actually takes people to upon deeper reflection,” she says.
“From joy to sorrow to loss—it’s just fascinating. Our friendships vary—from lifetime relationships to acquaintances we may only see occasionally. Friends witness our lives and inform us at a core level of who we are, how we cooperate and love as well as how to say ‘I’m sorry’ or ‘good bye.’
Two performances of Our Friends are slated for Sunday, May 13 at Jubilee! Community in downtown Asheville. The first will open at 4:00 PM and the second at 6:15 PM. Tickets are $16 and $3 of every sale will be donated to Big Brothers Big Sisters. Purchase your tickets today!