Transcript – Episode 43

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Announcer: This podcast is a project of the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency committed to building creative communities and inspiring creative minds.

Linda McInerney: And it was my intention for the artist to listen to the researcher, the climatologist, anthropologist or historian, to learn about what is troubling that researcher and that maybe there could be some kind of intersection, and I would play the go-between.

Anita Walker: Hi, I’m Anita Walker, executive director of the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and welcome to Creative Minds Out Loud.  Our guest today is Linda McInerney from Eggtooth Production.  She is the founder and artistic director.  Thanks for joining us today.

Linda McInerney: Thanks for having me, Anita.

Anita Walker: What is Eggtooth Productions?

Linda McInerney: Well, Eggtooth Productions– I’ve been in the sort of valley theater business for about 32 years, and when I lived in Deerfield with my husband and our two children– lived in Deerfield Massachusetts, and we were called Old Deerfield Productions.  But just a year ago, we moved to Greenfield, and my son said, “You have to change the name of your company, Mom.  What are you gonna do?”  And I said, “Well, I don’t really know, dear.  What do you think?”  He said, well– he’s a brander and a web designer, and he said, I’ve got this book called “Don’t Call It That,” and why don’t we do a workshop together and come up with something, a word, that expresses what you do?  And so, we spent the afternoon avoiding moving, by the way, so we wouldn’t have to pack up his room, and we went through this entire workbook and had a great time figuring out what it is that our theater company does.  And it really is about breaking through, hatching new ideas, commissioning new work, raising the chicks; I get to be the mama hen.  You get it all.  And we came up with Eggtooth, which is the little thing at the end of a baby bird’s beak that blasts through the egg.

Anita Walker: I love it. <laughs> I’m glad I asked <inaudible>

Linda McInerney: <laughs> I was just gonna ignore the name and assume everybody knew–

Anita Walker: That is a great story.

Linda McInerney: Thank you.

Anita Walker: Well, as you know, one of the reasons I was very excited to have an opportunity to talk to you on Creative Minds Out Loud is we at Mass Cultural Council have always been interested in the intersection of arts and science.  We know they both sorta sit on the platform of creativity; we know they’re both about asking questions that don’t have answers and having a comfort level with exploring things that there is no certain answer to.  And you, I think, have been a little bit fascinated with that juxtaposition of art and science as well, and you’ve done something really interesting involving blind dates.  Tell us about it.

Linda McInerney: Thank you, Anita.  Well, I’ll tell you– I’ll back it up just a little bit– is that the way that we come up with our work at Eggtooth is to dig into what the biggest questions and challenges in our human experience are.  What are those problems and challenges?  And to me, the biggest one on the planet is the planet, and that is: What do we do about climate change, and how do we create a new language and a new story so that people have a deeper understanding of what is at stake, the fragility of our human species and our interconnection with all living creatures on the earth, and how can art express that?  So, I was digging into that and bashing that around and trying to think of what we can do, because I think that artists really do change language and really do change the story and do change the way you perceive.  So, I bashed that around in my mind for a while, and I really just had what comes to me sometimes on a little television screen with trying to clarify the image, and I saw artists meeting climatologists on a blind date.  And my thought was is whatever– if we did this, if we had these blind dates with artists and climatologists, then I would commission each of these artists to take whatever they received from that meeting and make art.  So, I’ll back it up; so, here we go.  So, a blind date between– and I ended up making phone call– first of all, I made phone calls to all of my artist friends who I thought would be game to do this incredibly crazy project.

Anita Walker: And they all were.

Linda McInerney: And they all said yes, every one of them.  And we named it; we called it the Full Disclosure Festival, and what we did is I used the Banksy image, if you know this graffiti image of the flasher, and so it had a little whimsy in it, although it sorta opened it up to having some humor along with some very deep thoughts.  So, all of the artists said yes; there were six of them.  And by the way, as the festival expanded out of my power– it took on this life of its own– there were many other artists who jumped in at the end.  So, six artists, and then I thought I will see if I can find climatologists.  “What’s a climatologist exactly?” I asked myself, and I thought, well, let’s look at the interwebs.  And of course, UMass being just around the corner from us, has a plethora of climatologists, and I thought, well, if we’re thinking of place and we’re thinking of planet and we’re thinking of time, why not expand it to climatologists, anthropologists and historians?  And what I did was is I interviewed each of my artist pals and found out what they are intrigued by, and then I was kind of a matchmaker.  I put one artist with a researcher, and I didn’t tell them anything about one another, and I let them meet at a bar, our local bar called Seymour.  Thank you, Nathan, for letting us use Seymour right in downtown Greenfield, and wonderful GCTV, and thank you, Scott, for putting us on videotape.  And I let them meet each other for the very first time.  They each had one hour with drinks for free– free drinks, always helpful– with drinks for free.  They got to meet each other, and it was my intention for the artist to listen to the researcher, the climatologist, anthropologist or historian, to learn about what is troubling that researcher and that maybe there could be some kind of intersection, and I would play the go-between.  But the thing that I loved about this, Anita, is literally, with a glass of wine in hand, they fell in love with each other in the moment.  There was no need for an intermediary.  They just went off, and that is to a person.  And by the way, each of these is recorded and on videotape and available to be seen at GCTV dot org; so, all of the blind dates are there.  And then what happened was each of the artists took the information or questions, as you’re saying, that they received from this date and sorta stewed on it and thought about it, and we talked about it.  And they tried to invent some kind of response or interpretation or expression of what they received from that blind date.  And my job, as the producer of the Full Disclosure Festival, was to facilitate and find a home for each of these creations.  And I will tell you that we had dance; we had theater; we had immersive theater, too, like a promenade theatre piece; we had conceptual art; we had a painting; we had storefront displays.  We had all kinds of different things– photography.  Almost every art form you can kind of imagined was a part of this festival that took place in June over two days, and audience members just were completely immersed in downtown Greenfield.  And also, as a side bar, one of my deeper intentions was to draw people to downtown Greenfield, a wonderful, burgeoning renaissance of an art scene happening in this sort of pull-’em-up-by-the-bootstraps kind of a little town that I’ve fallen deeply in love with and to find a way to make place so that people could think of Greenfield as a place to go to see something creative and to have an experience and to have their eyes and minds and hearts– most importantly hearts– opened to something exciting and new.  John Bechtold, the gentleman with whom I am now working on a fully immersive “Winter’s Tale” that will take place in the ArtsBlock Building at the end of September, he is a brilliant guy, and he has studied with Punch Drunk, who you may have heard of because they created, among many other works, the immersive “Sleep No More” in New York; that is you walk through this wonderful old building and experience different parts of the Scottish play.  And so, I’m working with him on this.  He did a piece where he met with a climatologist, and the climatologist told him all about a fear of the– glaciologist, actually, and Julie Brigham-Grette is her name again from the University of Massachusetts.  And she talked about glaciers melting and the horror that this is gonna bring upon the world.  There will be, within 100 years, a loss of so many of our important cities, so many immigrants, so many homeless peo– just the devastation is beyond your wildest dreams, and she has the proof of it from looking at the melting of the glaciers.  So, what John did is he built a binaural experience, and by that I mean when your brain interprets the sound that you receive in your two ears to surround your entire body.  And what he did is, in a one-on-one experience with an audience member– so everybody came in in 10-minute increments, right?  So, a person comes in.  They are led through this journey throughout the town of Greenfield, so again, it’s a place-making kind of a situation.  And then they are placed– they have these earphones placed upon them, and you have a business card in your hand, and you are to meet this gentleman.  And the gist of it is is that you’re in the future, but you have been invited, because you remember what it was like before the glaciers melted.  You remember what the world was like, and you have been invited to speak to this very special human being to preserve the memory of what it used to be like while hearing a world where it’s a very, very different world, right?  So, that’s what you’re hearing all around you.  Does that make any sense?  It’s actually a difficult thing to describe in a verbal way, because it’s very much a visceral, embodied, affected experience, but that was the gist of John Bechtold’s piece.

Anita Walker: It’s been said that the arts are the most powerful tool to explain and understand complicated ideas.

Linda McInerney: I really believe this.

Anita Walker: And it sounds like that’s exactly what you’ve been doing with this project.

Linda McInerney: It’s very important to me, and I’ve placed a lot of intention and attention upon it.

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Anita Walker: Linda McInerney from Eggtooth Productions in Greenfield, another of our Creative Minds Out Loud.

Linda McInerney: And I have to say, before we go and say goodbye to Creative Minds, these projects have all– thank you very much– been supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council.  Thank you very much, Anita.


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