photo of fence at Hubbel Trading Post, Arizona © Phyllis L. Thompson
Many of my dramatic readings have involved collaboration with other artists, blending the various powers of word, image, and music.
- Jack Delaporte played delicate saxophone behind a 10-minute version of "Deep Space" for the opening of Flagstaff's Night Visions III art exhibit.
- Jim Lewis created a suite of his evocative photos that ran behind my reading of "Voices from the Colorado Plateau" for the opening of Diablo Trust's Reflections of the Land exhibit in Flagstaff, Arizona. (Sadly, we can now only see his works on the walls of those who own beautiful photographs by James D Lewis.)
- The occasional acting troupe 6 Voices and a Gong came together several times to perform a 30-minute version of my book, Dear Alice: Letters Home from American Teachers Learning to Live in China. I created the script for this little play along with my sister, actress Vicki Thompson, and our group performed it several times. We even took our gong into a recording studio to recreate the dramatic reading for Sun Sounds Radio of Northern Arizona, which won IAAIS (International Association of Audio Information Services) Program of the Year award for
Entertainment in 2006.
My long-term creative collaboration with artist Rachel Wilson grew out of a two-week Artists' Residency we shared at Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site in Ganado, Arizona, in 2012. While we were at Hubbell, Rachel created a folded-paper book of watercolors, threaded through with haiku I wrote. After we got home, I developed some of my ideas into a long essay, "In Praise of Empty Space."
This essay won first prize in Flagstaff Cultural Partners' High Desert Dispatches contest in 2013, and they wanted a dramatic reading. How to make a reflective essay on the place of wide spaces in an urbanizing world feel dramatic? Run a stream of beautiful images behind the reader! Rachel gave me full access to her catalogue of prints, paintings, and monotypes, and the result was a show that played successfully for audiences in both Flagstaff, Arizona, and Swarthmore, Pennsylvania.