Theatre maker Jerome Yorke will be performing in Terra Incognita at the U of M Rarig Center Proscenium for the 2015 Fringe Festival. He is an ensemble member of UpLift Physical Theatre, a company of international movement theatre artists who are focused on ensemble-based physical theatre. He got his start in Minnesota and currently lives in Cincinnati. In our interview he shares the excitement of being involved in a young driven company, his inspiration to create, and some of the other Minnesota Fringe shows he's going to try to catch.
Who do you think would be most interested in seeing Terra Incognita?
JY: Anyone who has ever felt their heart, guts or emotions tumbling, soaring or flying.
If you could describe the show with three words, what would they be?
JY: Intense, imaginative insurrection.
Can you please describe your role in creating and performing in Terra Incognita?
JY: Our exploration in the theatre is one that viscerally inspects an aspect of our human nature to engage. We don't necessarily want an audience to come into our performance with an expectation. We want to have a small separation of what is expected so our audience has the opportunity to find what their own unmapped territory may be. We want them to be thrust into an unknown place. The people who are in the room with us breathing together is the experience. We want our audience to be open to and engage any emotion that may come up within themselves.
JY: We have performed in the Mad River Festival in Blue Lake, California and at the Main Street Theatre in San Francisco. So far responses have been very positive. One audience member in San Francisco described our piece as a “symphony for the eyes.” Another said after our opening performance in the Mad River Festival, “In any minute of your piece, there is more effort, risk, momentum and joy than in an hour of any other show.” This year's Mad River Festival happened to coincide with Dell'Arte International's 40th anniversary reunion. Alumni from all over the world have expressed interest in future collaboration, which is something we're always looking for. It's a way to engage with other artists, theatre makers and their communities.
JY: Yes, although we don't necessarily have a "base." Because we're an international ensemble, we rely heavily on the internet and technology in order to communicate. This is where we feel we stand out because we have connections all over the world. Like Minnesota for example. Minneapolis is where I got my start. I have kept those relationships strong because I believe that Minneapolis has one of the strongest support systems for the arts. I communicate regularly with a number of artists and various companies in the Twin Cities like The National Theatre for Children, which was my first professional gig in the city. After a few years as a freelance actor, I became a resident company member for the Commonweal Theatre Company in Lanesboro, Minnesota. I attribute my growth as a performer to my family there. Most recently, I've had the extreme honor to become friends with Live Action Set, with whom we hope to collaborate in the future. Two of our ensemble members also lived in the area this past year, including one in Minneapolis.
JY: Absolutely, it wouldn't be a true Fringe experience without supporting other productions. We are looking forward to meeting other artists and possible future collaborators. I think we’ll definitely try to catch some other Dell’Arte alum shows like Frankenstein by Raw Red Meat Productions and Mom? by Box of Clowns. I personally want to check in on some friends like Delve Theatre and their show Two Jokes, One Act, among others. I’m also excited to see some shows from folks that I don’t know like Petunia and Chicken by Animal Engine. The list goes on and on, which is part of the beauty of Minneapolis’ Fringe.
JY: Yes, as a matter of fact we do! In addition to our show, we’ll be leading a fun handstand workshop. ALL skill levels will be encouraged to join in as we’ll try and have a photo taken of everyone inverted at the same time! We’ll also have a public challenge and invite anyone who is daring enough to get “UpLifted,” and we’ll “fly” people for free. We also hope to do a group warm-up prior to our shows, where we’ll lead anyone who is interested in joining us. With all the sitting and watching, it will be a great way to stay active! We also have a few surprises up our sleeves. For anyone to join us, we’ll be outside our venue, the Rarig Proscenium, on a large area of grass. Either look for us there or check our Facebook and Instagram pages for updates.
JY: Our explorations are rooted in the use of our bodies. Terra Incognita is a mapping of our journey through stories that can only be told using the raw, visceral, and ferocious language of acrobatics. We train our bodies to accomplish what is just beyond the horizon. This is the language that can best express the momentous unknown and tell our story of discovery.
Why do you think is worked so well?
JY: Some of our ensemble were recently in Bali where they conducted a benefit performance with some early ideas for Terra Incognita. This performance was a collaboration between us and the farmers in Les Village, Bali to raise money for their salt farming business. We try to engage with our community as much as possible and this opportunity was a beautiful chance to thank the farmers for their generous hospitality.
JY: We hope there is a lot on the horizon for us, but like Terra Incognita, it is all unmapped. We are a very young company and this is our first foray into the world, which is part of the reason why Terra Incognita is what it is. We hope to use what we’ve learned here in Minnesota to embark on our next experiment. We already have some great connections and potential collaborators and will always be open for more. Part of our discussion as a company in the following weeks will be what we are interested in doing next. We are a talented and driven group who trust and love each other. We hope to take our style of international collaboration and explore the things that interest us while staying rooted to our physicality as much as we can. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram at Uplift Physical Theatre and check in on our website www.uplifttheatre.com for updates.
Terra Incognita at the Minnesota Fringe Festival:
Fri, 7/31 @ 8:30pm
Sun, 8/2 @ 1:00pm
Tue, 8/4 @ 10:00pm
Wed, 8/5 @ 7:00pm
Fri, 8/7 @ 5:30pm
Tickets: $14 plus $4 admission button; kids' tickets (12 and under) are $5 and don't require a button; discounts and multi-show passes available. Tickets at fringefestival.org and at the box office 30 minutes before a performance.
Appropriate for ages 2 and up.
No late seating.
All Fringe shows run 60 minutes or less.
University of Minnesota:
Rarig Center Proscenium