West uses sabbatical to focus on creative projects
The first has been a dream for more than 20 years. She recently co-founded a theatre company, Full Sun Theatre, with a colleague and fellow theatre-maker, Kelly Bremner.
“The company emerged out of my need to tell stories from my perspective,” West said. “As a career artist, I have had very little opportunity to see my identity and experiences reflected on stage and I’ve had even less opportunity to play characters that represent my own life.”
This Midwest artist says this theatre company gives her the platform to write and perform those untold stories and to offer creative consultation for other playwrights creating new works. The group is currently working on a production called “Bread,” which will be performed at the Port Fringe Festival in Massachusetts in June and then in Mount Vernon in July. West then plans to take Full Sun Theatre to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland in August of 2020.
West describes “Bread” as a theatrical exploration of the female body at the brink of midlife. Told through a performative collage of movement and text, “Bread” is about what we give up to save ourselves.
“Bread is about the body, what it knows, and what it wants and what it needs/kneads,” she said.
The second creative project of West’s sabbatical involves a playwright close to home, at Cornell College. West has collaborated with Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning Jen Rouse on a new play called “Conjure.” Over the last several years, the piece, which started as a long poem, has transformed into a 90-minute production. “Conjure” was performed at Emory & Henry College (EH) in Emory, Virginia, in early April. Students of the college, West, and the chair of the EH theatre department, Kelly Bremner, acted in the world premiere of the show.
“It’s been a pleasure to have had the opportunity to walk with Jen Rouse as she has molded both her plays, ‘To Be The Not’ and ‘Conjure: A Cycle in Three Parts,’ into the distinctly beautiful pieces they are,” West said. “At Emory & Henry, Jen took a chance on me once again and allowed me to combine the two pieces for this one production. I’m excited to see what she will do with them in the future!”
West says the show focuses on themes of women’s empowerment, mental health, and the struggle to survive in environments lacking in support for women and gender non-binary people. The Emory & Henry production threads the production through “To Be The Not,” a story that follows a writer named Meg as she explores the final moments of a relationship through the writing of her stories.
Janeve West has taught at Cornell College since 2012. She is an associate professor of theatre and dance at Cornell College where she serves as the head of directing and theatre history/literature programs.