All photos by Carly J. Bales
Amidst last week’s public meeting on the new Bromo Arts District in Downtown’s west side, the creative force known as the EMP Collective was preparing its latest production, A Brief Narrative of an Extraordinary Birth of Rabbits, which opens this Friday. The play marks the second original production to emerge out of the collective’s incubator space (creatively named EMP) at 306 W Redwood Street.
EMP moved into their new digs in late 2011, after receiving an Operation: Storefront Grant from Baltimore’s Downtown Partnership to activate downtown’s forgotten Loft District. The multi-use arts venue serves as a rotating art gallery for developing artists and doubles as a rehearsal/performance space for theater and music events, workshops, film screenings, and experimental collaboration.
With the proposed Bromo Arts District designation, the area could soon be buzzing with similar hubs of creative activity and large-scale collaboration. For now, EMP is spearheading a movement which strives to defy boundaries, cross disciplines, and remain on the cutting edge of experimental multi-media performance.
A Brief Narrative of an Extraordinary Birth of Rabbits, by Austin-based playwright C. Denby Swanson, opens this Friday and runs at EMP from May 10th – 20th. It tells the true-life tale of Mary Toft, a pregnant English peasant who in 1726 chased a rabbit through a field for supper. Something (too bizarre to give away here) happened, and, miraculously, Mary began to birth pieces of rabbits. She became a national sensation, drawing the attention of the Royal Court and bringing people the country ‘round to witness and examine her maternal impressions.
That story was a hoax. EMP’s production is not.
Mary is a dreamy, imaginative young woman. Kitty, her pragmatic sister, dreams of only one thing: a child. Mary reluctantly agrees to give surrogate birth to Kitty’s child. Everything goes according to protocol until Mary gives birth to a rabbit instead. . . followed by 24 more. . .
Hosted by the Stork himself (yes, that one) and featuring a three-ring circus of puppets, hospital magic tricks, giant vaginas, and people turning into animals, A Brief Narrative of an Extraordinary Birth of Rabbits explores issues of infertility, creation, science, and the imagination.
A Brief Narrative of an Extraordinary Birth of Rabbits will be a regional premiere for the work, and represents the first non-devised work EMP Collective has chosen to produce, yet it remains in the spectrum of their multimedia-driven, provoking theatre. The playwright Swanson graduated from Smith College, the National Theatre Institute, and the University of Texas Michener Center for Writers where she was a fellow in play- and screenwriting. Formerly Artistic Director of Austin Script Works, Swanson currently teaches at Southwestern University. Her works are published by Smith & Kraus, Heinemann, and Playscripts, Inc.
A Brief Narrative of an Extraordinary Birth of Rabbits combines puppets, big sets, and a fair level of absurdity. If you’re a fan of EMP Collective, you already know what I am talking about. If you have yet to dip your toe into the magical waters of this energetic group of artists, don’t miss this chance to experience something awesome.
May 10 – May 19
Pay-what-you-can Preview – Thursday, May 10
Opening Night – Friday, May 11
Arts Industry Night ($10 for artists) – Monday, May 14
Special performances Thursdays-Saturdays and Monday
All performances at 8PM
For more information, please visit www.empcollective.org