Founded in Boston by Stacy Klein in 1982, initially as a women's theatre, Double Edge moved to Ashfield in Massachusetts in 1997 to the rural complex now known as the Farm Center. The Farm comprises rehearsal rooms, living quarters, technical workshops, an ante-room to welcome and dine spectators, a magnificent loft-like performance space, and acres of land with trees and a pond. The whole is set against a soft New England landscape, and the Farm's grounds are the almost idyllic environment for the summer promenade spectacles that, like its more formal productions indoors, provide a focus for locals, sustaining their sense of community and even the myth of community nurtured historically in these parts. In this conversation of 13 and 14 November 2009 (which was extended in August 2010 after The Firebird, the summer spectacle of that year), Stacy Klein discusses how local people support Double Edge and otherwise form a long-term relationship with the company, now visited by spectators as well as practitioners from further afield – Klein's Polish teachers and mentors among them. Double Edge is a devising company, working with improvisation and free association to form strong visual imagery through pronounced physical movement, which also involves circus skills. This, together with a frequently startling use of objects, is the basis of their magical realism (notably in the unPOSSESSED of 2004, after Don Quixote), a style developed by the company in its rural retreat, and subsequently combined with the tonalities of grotesque surrealism. The Republic of Dreams, for instance, inspired by the life and work of Bruno Schulz, enters the world of vivid dreams, powerful memories, and nostalgic echoes, the whole evoking an evanescent past into which its agile, versatile performers – some singing, some dancing – tune in, like ghosts absent and present in one and the same instance. The two productions noted here are part of what Klein calls a ‘Cycle’ – a grouping of works that have evolved over a number of years as separate pieces, some beginning life as a summer show before they grow and link with the other pieces of a given Cycle, which is almost always a trilogy. Gradual, consistent development is key to the company's work, as is its belief in a distinct company ethos, which its trainees are invited to share. Maria Shevtsova, who enjoyed the Farm's hospitality when she talked with Stacy Klein, holds the Chair in Drama and Theatre Arts at Goldsmiths, University of London, and is the co-editor of New Theatre Quarterly.
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