PORT TOWNSEND — At the outset this pair appears not alike. He’s a poet who performs; she’s an artist who shapes wearable sculpture.
Port Townsend’s Margie McDonald and Seattle’s Daemond Arrindell come from different backgrounds, yet both are all fired up about “Frozen Borders.”
Only two performances of this event will fill the stage at Key City Public Theatre — Saturday and Sunday at 7 p.m. — while they mark the start of something brand-new: the Artist CoLab at KCPT.
“Frozen Borders,” a performance-art piece, brings Arrindell’s theatrical poetry straight up to a stage set McDonald has created especially for these two nights.
The show opens the theater’s 2019 season, yes, but Key City artistic director Denise Winter promises this is not your traditional stage production.
As soon as you take your seat, you’ll be brought along on an exploration, she said, through images and spoken word on the subject of the United States’ southern border.
Tickets are $25 via www.keycitypublictheatre.org and 360-385-KCPT (5278). If any are still available, tickets will be sold at the Key City Playhouse door, 419 Washington St.
“Come see a passionate poet speaking to the truth of the times we live in, in a stage set that encompasses the entire theater,” McDonald added. She’s been working on the surroundings for weeks now.
“The set has actual ice,” said McDonald, “that will melt and reveal a surprise element.”
She and Arrindell met when both were teaching artists in Centrum’s Voices from the Field Arts Academy, a June program at Fort Worden State Park. In it, youngsters from migrant farm-worker families spend a week learning about music, dance, spoken-word performance and visual art from a team of professional artists from around the West.
“These children, ages 11 to 13, are some of the most wonderful students I have had the pleasure of teaching,” McDonald said.
A cofounder of Port Townsend’s Wearable Art Show — a nine-year-old event that happens every Mother’s Day weekend — she’s been its artistic director and student artist coordinator.
Arrindell, a writer-in-residence at Seattle Arts & Lectures’ Writers in the Schools program, has performed and taught in prisons and colleges across the country. Seven years ago he taught Seattle University’s first course in slam poetry.
“When Daemond draws poetry from the [Voices from the Field] students, we learn of their loves and fears,” said McDonald.
“We learn that some have stories of fleeing violence in their parents’ homeland.”
Arrindell and McDonald were each impressed by the other’s work, so they said hey, we should collaborate sometime.
“In later conversations,” McDonald said, “Daemond shared stories of assumptions made because of his skin color. And I shared stories of discrimination my father faced growing up very poor and First Nations in Newfoundland. My father hid his Mi’kmaq identity for many years.”
Last January, KCPT’s Winter asked McDonald to build a set for actor Akuyoe Graham’s one-woman show, “Spirit Awakening.” Using only rope, she constructed a large banyan tree as a centerpiece.
Then, later last year, Winter let McDonald know she wanted to connect with the visual artists in Port Townsend and environs, to make new projects happen in the Key City Playhouse. McDonald told her about Arrindell, and “Frozen Borders” began its gestation.
The “Borders” experience will transcend form; “it will include poetry but is not a poetry reading. It will be theatrical but is not a play,” said Arrindell. His desire is to “honor people whose voices have been silenced.”
“Frozen Borders,” Arrindell noted, is filled with emotion and experience — not politics.
“It is about the voices,” he said, “lives and deaths of immigrants chasing the American dream.”