Artist : BareBones Productions
Location : Minnesota, U.S.A
Year : 2014
Researcher : Megan Guerber

For the 2014 iteration, Metamorphosoup, the base inspiration came from a folktale about stone soup that emphasizes cooperation, sharing, and community-oriented action. In the story, hungry travelers arrive in a village seeking food. When residents are unwilling to share their provisions, the travelers set up camp near a river and fill their cooking pot with water and a stone. As villagers pass and inquire about the traveler’s activities, they are each told that they are preparing “stone soup,” which just requires a bit more of something before it is done. Each villager is willing to part with some small ingredient and, in the end, there is a nourishing soup to be enjoyed by everyone. For their production, BareBones interwove this story with the idea of the primordial soup, the rudimentary elements that combined to form life at the dawn of the universe.

A core recurring moment in each performance is an invitation to audience members to announce the names of loved ones who have died in the past year. Following the performance itself, audiences are invited to enjoy live music and free food provided by Sisters’ Camelot, a locally based free organic food distribution collective. Sisters’ Camelot also supplies food during the builds and practices leading up to the performances.

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The work of BareBones thrives on collaboration, participation, sharing, and inventive material re-use. By allowing the production of their work to follow organic pathways, the troupe of professional and amateur creators celebrates every talent brought to the table by community members. With open community story-boarding events, puppet builds, t-shirt printing, and performance practices, no one is turned away. Participants range from toddlers to 70 year old artists and each plays an important role in the outcome of the event. Indeed, BareBones prides themselves on the collaborative aspect of their work, one so collective and vast that the sole ownership of any project becomes impossible.

Each year, preparations begin with a community brainstorm. After a theme is chosen, community members are invited to work crafting puppets and practicing to participate in the performance. Involvement varies, with every production gathering over 250 participants ranging from musicians and professional performers to community participants, builders, technicians, volunteers, and organizers. In-line with the season, themes center around death and transition, yet there is also an orientation towards families and accessibility.

All copyright belongs to Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts, Shanghai University.

Progress Agency