Out of the Shadows, and Onto the Stage

  • Sun Feb 2nd, 2020 1:30am
  • Life

by Norm Stamper

Orcas Island

What do you get when you combine sensational movement and spoken word artists with a sterling jazz quartet? Answer: a sold-out dinner and a soon-to-be sold-out show, all packed into one extraordinary evening. Woman in the Woods Productions is delighted to announce its third annual gala and fundraiser on Feb. 22 at Orcas Center.

The good news is that if you’ve missed out on a reservation for the lip-smacking, finger-licking feast served up by Ron and Mary of Orcas Village Store, all is not lost. You can, and really should, score an event-only ticket, available at Office Cupboard and Orcas Center. This will also ensure access to the night’s spirited live auction.

But don’t delay.

On the main stage, you’ll be treated to an electrifying performance by the internationally renowned movement artist, choreographer and director Jon Boogz and spoken word artist Robin Sanders whose audible image-making and kinetic storytelling captivate audiences worldwide. Also, back by popular demand, the superlative Steve Alboucq Quartet, furnishing some of the finest jazz you’ll hear anywhere. Finally, presiding over the night’s festivities? Our favorite emcee/auctioneer, the reliably fun and funny David Bestock.

Boogz has choreographed for Mikhail Baryshnikov, Naomi Campbell and Gloria Estefan among others, but he is best known for performing his own choreography. Search on YouTube for his highly acclaimed “Color of Reality,” an amazing collaboration with his fellow movement artist Lil Buck and painter Alexa Meade. Spoiler: Their characters begin in a painting, but come alive after watching news reports about violence. The characters move out into the street, hoping to help. They find themselves ignored by passers-by who see them as “different,” and unwanted. Being ignored—that sense of invisibility—is a theme we hear from non-whites right here on Orcas.

As Boogz has said, “Art speaks to us in a way that words cannot.” Inspired by his artistic depiction of invisibility and the hurt it causes, WIWP’s theme for this year’s gala is “Out of the Shadows.” In selecting this theme we celebrate those who, during this time of great divisiveness and turmoil, come together to welcome each other, to help break down that feeling of being unseen.

Not all artists suffer for their work, though many do. So, we honor these courageous individuals whose suffering has inspired or otherwise contributed to their art—to the great benefit of the rest of us. Indeed, WIWP is proud to make our stage a welcoming place for artists who have survived, even flourished in the face of racism, misogyny, homophobia, family violence or other forms of cruelty or injustice.

Often relegated to a silent, invisible existence—and stuck there until their work is ultimately appreciated (as manifested by a grant, a benefactor, an enthusiastic audience)—these artists have for too long lived in the shadows.

We can’t help but be moved by such individuals, those who have overcome personal setbacks and heartaches, and emerged from the darkness to boldly confront ignorance and bigotry. We’re in awe of their sacrifice, their hard work, their discipline.

And their talent.

These extraordinary artists help WIWP achieve our vision of appreciating “racial and cultural differences through various forms of artistic expression.”

With the generous support of sponsors and other donors and ticket holders, we hope to retire, once and for all, the cliché of the “starving artist.” Recall last year’s timeless gala theme, “Art Matters.” To this end, our organization strives to welcome to Orcas top-notch artists who, of course, command significant fees. We cannot bring them here from ticket revenue alone.

Our goal, and certainly that of our partners on the local arts scene, is to help visiting artists experience everything our wonderful community has to offer, from the physical majesty of the setting to the warmth and hospitality of our residents. We want our artists to talk up Orcas Island as a destination where diversity and the arts are enthusiastically celebrated. We want them to return again and again and, through their word-of-mouth, encourage a constant stream of top-tier visiting artists to complement the island’s own outstanding performers.

A hearty thank-you to this year’s sponsors: Islanders Bank; Island Market; Inclusion Innovates; Lower Tavern; Ginny Hawker; Theron Soderlund; Miriam Ziegler; and Tom Baldwin.

Some key times for the Feb. 22 dinner and event:

Orcas Center doors open at 4:30 p.m. for those with dinner tickets.

Doors reopen for our show-only guests to check in at 6:15ish.

See you there!