I Enter as a Stranger
Time & Location
About the Event
I Enter as a Stranger is a multi-discipline production of Franz Schubert’s song cycle Die Winterreise (1828) featuring local artists Justin Anthony Spenner (Producer/Baritone), Sequoia Hauck (Director), Darrius Strong (Choreographer) Carson Rose Schneider (Piano), and Jeff Korte (Photographer). I Enter as a Stranger removes the romantic narrative from Die Winterreise, focusing instead on the poetic themes of mental illness. Music, dance, photography, and film merge to tell the story of four individuals searching for connection and recognition as they navigate their own neurodiversity. Their worlds intersect, and lines of reality blur together as they gain an understanding of each other.
“This project comes as a response to a massive increase of people talking about their mental health over the last 15 months. The pandemic has created a time where many have found community in trauma- a topic that our society tends to ignore. This work reflects on the effort it takes to maintain that community and the idea that connection can be attainable through empathy.”
-Justin Anthony Spenner, Producer
This self-produced work was conceived to normalize conversations about mental health and advocate for individualized treatment. It utilizes film, music, and photography to explore themes of human connection, isolation, internal/external realities, and living with an invisible illness.
Local mental-health advocacy non-profit Dissonance is partnering with the artists to create digital packets to inform audience members about common signs of mental health issues, coping mechanisms, and how to seek treatment.
Each episode also features a different editor, adding further to the artistic process: Ep. I: Anxiety (Samuel Malm, Editor)- Often, we think of anxiety as “being anxious” and associate it with anxious tendencies (shakes, jittery, focus issues, jumpy). But really, anxiety is the unfairness of being understood. It is being unable to articulate your perspective. It is being unable to accept what can or can’t be changed or solved. It is learned trauma that cycles inwards. Most importantly, it is easy to hide.
Ep. II: Bipolar (Ash Warren, Editor)-This episode is about being seen, and how sometimes that is a benefit, and sometimes it is terrible. At what point does being vulnerable become dangerous? When it feels like a personality can’t be guaranteed, personal connection can be terrifying. On the surface, Bipolar Disorder seems like a happy/sad situation. But it’s about the spectrum. It’s about never landing in the middle. Creativity and blockage. Emotional capacity and Numbness. Thriving and shutting down. Memory and the Now. Reality and imagination.
Ep. III: Schizophrenia (Makayla Gayle, Editor)- This episode explores internal vs. external perceptions of reality. The words we use and the way we define them matter. What is real is not always tangible, and not always understood by any other person. If someone feels watched, who can say that they’re not? We notice strangers all day, every day- sometimes they notice us back and it makes an impact. When your mind tells you that the whole world is a stranger, what does that do to your reality?
Ep. IV: Depression (Benji Perez Gonzalez, Editor)- This episode starts with a callback to the recital to remind people that safety and normalcy are defined by the individual. The definition is infinite, so we must listen and not impose our own. As it goes along, there are glimmers of hope. It takes strength to be depressed- to think about isolation and death so often but to seek other answers. But, we look at the opportunity for connection, sharing experiences, and learning from what the next person has lived through. Going through the journey and ending in a space so foreign that it feels like the destination you never knew you were heading towards.
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