Vermont Arts Council

The People’s Choice Award: Sophie Wood

81: Sophie Wood

Create an original script for a performance art experience featuring country music and psychedelic puppets

Sophie Wood is a multimedia artist whose work explores ritual, landscape and land use, myth, humor, and the metabolisation of grief.  Her art uses textile, sculpture, movement, clowning, storytelling, poetry, shadow/light work and plant/earthworks design. She has a self-directed degree from Hampshire College, is co-founder and producer of The Royal Frog Ballet performance collective, and works for The Governor’s Institute on the Arts. She has additionally run a summer performance project on Shakespeare and clowning, built for various large-scale parades, including HONKfest and the Cleveland Art Museum’s ‘Parade The Circle’, worked with Bread and Puppet Theater, and published two collections of poetry.

Project description

Lazy Susan and The Cosmic Cowgirls will be a humorous, surreal performance art experience, posing as a classic country music show.

Boots! Big hats! Big hair! This music genre offers an unusual allowance for humor. What uncomfortable stories and radical ideas can the cartoonish nature of the country music star make more approachable for audiences? Can we clown open raw themes? As the piece draws us in with glitz, twang, hand-clapping and good old fashioned sing-alongs, it slowly comes apart at the seams, melting into psychedelic puppetry, choreography, sculptural costume changes and more, bringing to the surface a grief, challenge, vibrancy, beauty and rage that lies under the veneer.

The phase of the proposed project that pertains to the grant is research, palette assemblage, writing, and design development. The final product will be a written script for the piece, with designs for costume/puppetry/props, and song lyrics, ready to move into production mode in collaboration with The Royal Frog Ballet.

Initial thematic research includes: Aging as femme, myths relating to the angry divine feminine/grief. Mothering/anothering, and caretaking. Trance music and trance states. Rurality and its relationship with ‘toughness’ and ‘neighborliness’ and ‘self-sufficiency.’ Costume and gender performance.

If there’s anything we should be packing in our political-dumpster-fire-climate-change-survival-backpack-packing-mid-pandemic reality there’s nothing more important than a sense of humor. Okay, maybe water, but FUN is a close second. Because survival is not enough without moments of JOY, exuberance, laughter, transcendence. This project will utilize the power of humor as a tool to open audiences to more difficult and vulnerable conversations, to create opportunities for healing and release, to invite people to weirder places within themselves and their stories. This piece will be fun, and fun will help us all survive.

Media Sample 1

“Spider Needed a Beer.” An example of past written work. It was intended for a solitary storyteller, but includes dialogue/character, humor and mysticism.

Media Sample 2

“Grannies singing.” Past work in costume/character development around creation of new/old archetypes for fabulous, aging, raging femmes.

Media Sample 3

“My Love, My Love is an apple tree.” An example of lyric collaboration with musician Julia Read who used my lyrics to create a finished piece, styled within traditional country/folk music.

Royal Frog Ballet Website | Sophie’s Instagram | Ballet Instagram | Ballet PayPal

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Desmond Peeples August 22, 2023