FIT Festival Series, Part 5: Lily & Joan present ‘Redeemer Mine’ by J.C. Pankratz
By Cristee Cook
For the first time in Dallas’ Festival of Independent Theatres' 22 years of operation, the FIT Festival is being offered on a virtual platform. Streaming on-demand October 8 – 31, this year’s program includes 6 performance companies with new works in dance, comedy, drama, and more. Dallas Art Beat is excited to offer “get-to-know-you" featurettes with each company in a 6-part series throughout the month of October.
Part 5 of our series highlights Lily & Joan, who will be presenting a virtual version of J.C. Pankratz’s Redeemer Mine. The play tells the spooky and heartbreaking story of Gloria, who returns home after her sister is caught cremating their mother – the prophet of a small-town doomsday cult. Redeemer Mine was a National New Play Network offering and a 2015 O’Neil National Playwrights Conference Finalist. We spoke with Emily P. Faith, Lily & Joan Artistic Director and Co-Founder, who also Co-Directed the piece with Abigail Birkett for the FIT Festival. Based on the stage play by Pankratz, this performance was adapted for the screen by Abigail Birkett, Emily P. Faith and J.C. Pankratz.
Can you give us some background on your project for FIT?
Redeemer Mine is what I would call the ultimate package deal for our company. Lily & Joan was founded on the principle of providing a femme-centric platform for artists and boasting holistic experiences for both audience and artist. Lily & Joan desire that audiences are less of voyeurs and more of partners in our stories, and Redeemer Mine was no exception to that. When director Abigail Birkett pitched her work and the show Redeemer Mine, we felt like it fit perfectly in both camps. [Our aesthetic] is dark, natural, and feminine in the works we produce and events we host. Redeemer Mine checks all of those boxes. The ability to share in a "co-experience" with an audience was our biggest growing edge in moving to an online format.
What positive changes have come out of the pandemic time in regard to your work - creating what is traditionally live performance for a virtual audience?
I say this a lot - artists are programmed to think outside of the box and getting the chance to be challenged and really flex our muscles in that way has been extremely gratifying. We have been forced to work with limitations like funding and space for as long as we have been in operation and, transparently, never really figured it out. It feels good to have a problem that we can solve. We can make theatre go virtual. We can film safely. We can be thrilled and frightened and connected by art. This pandemic has been a solid reminder to our company of what really matters in the production process.
Why do you want to tell this story now?
Lily & Joan exists as a way to provide opportunities for artists. We are an artist-focused company. The fact that the FIT Festival was willing to pivot to an online platform meant that we could do our job of curating safe-enough spaces to create, fail, explore, relate, and exist. The story had to be told now because our artists need to be heard now. It is our sincere hope to fully produce the full-length script of Redeemer Mine by J.C. Pankratz. What we have submitted for the FIT Festival is just a taste of a delicious and wicked play that we hope you join us at as soon as it is safe.
What is sustaining you right now during this time of uncertainty?
I work out. I have too many plants. I garden at a community garden. Cultivating intentional moments to focus on the present sustains me.
Lily & Joan presents Redeemer Mine by J.C. Pankratz as part of the 22nd Annual Festival of Independent Theatres, available for streaming (on-demand) October 8-31, 2020. Purchase a two-show block for $12, or a festival pass with access to all shows for $30. Find the complete program listing, tickets, and more at: festivalofindependenttheatres.org.