Monday, February 10, 2014

Flower Child Screens at Historic Union United Methodist Church in Boston

February 9, 2014 - On a recent cold Friday night in Boston, filmmaker Angela Counts screened her masters thesis film, FLOWER CHILD, to a packed audience. During an artist talk, Counts shared a very personal story of the journey that brought her from a career at Harvard to life as an arts graduate student at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and Northeastern University.

Prepping for the artist talk. 
Artist Talk

Counts shared with the audience how her decision to go back to school was inspired by a reunion with her Muslim father, after a 17-year absence. Father and daughter crossed continents and the region of the Middle East to find themselves trying to bridge their estrangement by meeting in Italy in 2008. For Counts, it was her first trip to Europe. 

Counts is a playwright by training, and for a time she lived in New York City after winning the Lorraine Hansberry award for her play, Hedy Understands Anxiety

But she noted that on this momentous trip to Italy an artist friend encouraged her take along a camera. Father and daughter traversed the streets of Milan, the waterways of Lake Como, and the canals and twisting walkways of Venice, while Counts documented the experience through moving and still images (at the time she was a first-time, amateur photographer).  

After arriving back in Boston, she began making experimental videos of the trip, in which she combined the video footage with recordings of her voice singing, chanting, and reciting her original poetry about the experience.  

During her talk, Counts screened two videos from that time, COW SKULL and THE SOUL IS A HOUSE.  The grainy travelogue-like footage and the voice of the artist reciting her poetry, she explained, were early creative attempts at bringing together the fragments of their disrupted lives as father and daughter. 

This evolved into what she described as an architecture of memory. 

A Harvard Administrator Goes Back to School in the "Down Economy"

In 2010, Counts found herself in a post-bacc program at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA), alongside 18- and 19-year olds. While her ideas about writing and the creative process were familiar to her, the worlds of art-making in a fine arts context  were not. She described how she took on the cross-disciplinary nature of her desired new media -- photography, film, video, sound, and performance,  with an eventual acquired humility. She entered the joint graduate M.F.A. program at Northeastern and SMFA in Fall 2011.

Counts said, however, that shortly after beginning her new graduate program, she improbably found herself revisiting her past as a playwright. She had earned a Van Lier Playwriting Fellowship from the famed Off-Broadway theater, New York Theatre Workship in the late 1990s, and was for a time a playwright on the move, but a few disappointments derailed her upward trajectory and she told the audience she stopped writing plays in 2005. 

"Home Movies"

That spring at school, Angela viewed a A VHS tape of her younger playwrights days. In 2001, she was invited to the premiere of her play, Hedy Understands Anxiety at Jubilee Theatre in Fort Worth, TX. The old digital images of the expectant writer intrigued her. This viewing, and the rediscovery of the New York Theatre Workshop-commissioned play, FLOWER CHILD, would eventually lead to an examination of the artist's own life: The disrupted dreams of a young playwright -- greatly influenced by the legacy of the 1960s and the promise of the Young, Gifted, and Black generation -- who had not found her own "mountaintop".

FLOWER CHILD, the autobiographical documentary, which Counts completed in December 2013 for her masters thesis, is a complicated, poetic montage of collisions, disruptions, and the desire to recreate a personal narrative that is political, illusive, familial, and the artist contends, necessarily fragmented.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Thesis Screening 
Dec. 5, 2013
The screening of FLOWER CHILD on February 7 at Union United Methodist Church (UUMC) capped  off a series of masters thesis screenings that began on December 5, 2013 at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and concluded on December 13 at Medicine Wheel Productions, South Boston. 

Counts appeared buoyant as she engaged in a lively Q & A with the UUMC audienceHer artist talk and the pressing questions inaugurated in her, she said, a sense that in her work, "have been all along attempting the impossible task of recreating and re-encountering a sense of my place in history, in society, in family, in aloneness, and in continual evolution and process… 

It is a journey that is best shared ultimately with others in a human we story that is fragile, yes…fragmented, yes, but essentially whole -- as Joni Mitchell writes in the song, Woodstock, we are all trying to get back to the Garden." And that Counts says is the hopeful part of her. The idealist. The flower child. 

Director: Angela M. Counts
HD and digital video – 35 min.

Counts’ new graduate thesis film, Flower Child, explores familial relations, the legacy of the 1960s and her travels as a playwright from Detroit, to Los Angeles, and New York City. In the autobiographical documentary, Angela draws from experiences growing up surrounded by deeply fragmented, yet fascinating souls. Her journey through her past takes her to places as diverse as the people she will ultimately encounter. 

FLOWER CHILD is inspired by the play, which New York Theatre Workshop commissioned Angela to write in the late 1990s as a playwriting fellow with the theater.  She completed the film in December 2013, for the Masters of Fine Arts dual degree with Northeastern University/School of the Museum of Fine Arts. 

Feb. 7, 2014 - Union United Methodist Church, Boston (South End)
December 13, 2013 -- Medicine Wheel Productions* (South Boston)
December 5 & 9, 2013 -- Museum of Fine Arts, Boston*

*Masters of Fine Arts Screenings

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Autobiographical doc to screen at the MFA, Boston Dec. 5 & 9 and Medicine Wheel Productions, South Boston Dec. 13 as part of MFA Thesis Screenings

The legacy of the 1960s and the broken bonds of a multiracial family…

Flower Child © Angela M. Counts, 2013. Video Production Still. 
Pictured: Dell Hamilton and Susan Lloyd McGarry.

In the late 1990s, Angela Counts was a Van Lier Playwriting Fellow at New York Theatre Workshop in New York City. She was commissioned to write a new play, and thus began the journey of Flower Child

Written during boom economic times, the play questioned the collapse of “The American Dream”, the legacy of the 1960s, and the broken bonds of a multiracial family. 

In 2012, Angela rediscovered Flower Child and began filming rehearsals of her play and rediscovering the sources of its inspiration. In spite of her efforts to reconstruct the play she is drawn into an examination of herself. 

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 

Alfond Auditorium

December 5 @ 12:30 pm 

December 9 @ 12:30 pm

465 Huntington Avenue, 
Boston, MA 02115
(617) 267-9300,
Free ticketed event at museum ticket counter.

Medicine Wheel Productions, South Boston 

December 13 @ 7:00 pm

110 K Street - 2nd Floor, South Boston, MA 02127
(617) 268-6700,
MBTA: Redline Broadway Stop
#9 City Point Bus to K Street
Street parking. 
Free and open to the public.

**Master of Fine Arts Thesis Screenings School of the Museum of Fine Arts and Northeastern University

Flower Child © Angela M. Counts, 2013. Video Production Still. Pictured: Angela Counts.

Angela Counts is a filmmaker, performing artist, and writer whose dramatic plays have been presented across the country, including LaMama ETC and Theatre for the New City, in New York; Jubilee Theater in Texas; and the Prop Thtr Festival of New Plays in Chicago. 

Her short films have appeared in several group exhibitions in the greater Boston area, including Open Source at the New England Conservatory of Music. Angela is the recipient of the Kennedy Center’s Lorraine Hansberry award for her play, Hedy Understands Anxiety, which was published by Dramatic Publishing Company.

With Flower Child, an autobiographical documentary, Angela completed the Master of Fine Arts degree at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Northeastern University, College of Media, Arts and Design. She holds a B.A. in Communications and M.F.A. in Playwriting from the University of Southern California.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Flower Child: "I've been away, but I'm back..."

Dear Readers,

I've been away but not idle... I've been creating but not posting so much, so I've wanted to update you on a major project I'm working on, and I hope you will follow me as I continue my journey as an artist -- from poetry, performance, and plays to film and video and back again!

The project that has taken so much of my time is called Flower Child... 

In 2008, as some of you know I made a visit to Italy for a reunion with my father whom I hadn’t seen in 17 years. I brought along a camera and an artist sketchbook and began a journey into a multi-media way of expressing the complications of identity, family history, and language. I also started this blog in earnest after a second trip to Italy in 2009 by myself.

The reunion with my father and the processing of trying to express it all through images, text, and sound led me to the post-Bacc program at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in the fall of 2010.  The following year I enrolled in the MFA Studio Arts program, where I found my way back to my play, Flower Child, which was commissioned by New York Theatre Workshop when I was a playwright living in New York City back in the day. At SMFA, I decided to film the play as a means of tracing my evolution as an artist, and to transform the themes of the play and its non-linear structure into a visual story with multiple streams of narratives -- race, class, 60s activism, youthful idealism, artistic dreams, family disconnections, and redemption through finding ones voice. Please stay tuned... I plan to update the site as I go along... Thanks as always for following!

And may you always be inspired to be your true authentic, self. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Dear Loyal Readers

Photo: Angela M. Counts 
Dear Loyal Readers,

For some time, I've been keeping a blog for a Mexico Art History class that's really about the city of Boston and its environs from my perspective -- which means lots of pictures, poetry, musings, etc. I closed it this week, but feel free to peruse some of the postings. It follows an eclectic alphabet format. I think you will particularly like the April 18 post, "Performance Art on the T". I'll try to migrate some of the content from there to here, where appropriate but want to direct you that way in the meantime.

Thanks for reading!


Thursday, November 11, 2010

This same ocean, I knew (performance video)

01:10, Digital Video, Sound Recording (Vocal performance by Angela Counts). 

Part of the fall 2010 Post-Baccalaureate group show, 27 Days, at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

The waves so restless now,
Tossing us about, confused
This same ocean I knew
Since youth, and his eyes too
And now, I can’t look.
His eyes, the same as mine.
Panic, they look away. The same,
Dark, ocean we belong.
Only now, terror: the smells
That we did not know. So
Close together. The shame
I never knew; his leg
Crossed with mine, and hers too.
Somebody’s arm bloodied. She fell,
We smell, each other,
Our humanity. Who are these
Devils, the ones with greedy teeth?
What did we do, and
Now can it be undone?