Music, theater events in the 2018 Festival

The 2018 Spirit & Place Festival will be held from Nov. 2-11. The festival this year will explore the theme of “intersections.” Intersecting lines can be found anywhere from the cross and cloverleaf, to crossroads and connections. They represent collective creativity and deeper understanding, as well as points of division or conflict.

There will be 32 unique events this year that will take place across 27 venues and feature a variety of presenters, speakers and performers. This year’s festival will feature several events with music or theater performances. Music and theater are forms of expression that can inspire conversation and create a community identity. Spirit & Place will host events with performance aspects from Nov. 4-11.

Visit the website at for the full festival lineup, including these music and theater events below:


Sunday, November 4, 5—7 p.m.
Pain & Purpose: The Intersection of Parenting and Addiction
Presented by Fairbanks, Indiana Addictions Issues Coalition, IU School of Health and Human Services and 24 Group
IUPUI Hine Hall Auditorium—875 W. North St.

Debuting in the Spirit & Place Festival, Pain & Purpose by Lauren Briggeman of Summit Performance Indianapolis explores the grief, heartache and pain of watching loved ones trapped in addiction. It also gives hope by revealing the joy, serenity and spiritual connections made in recovery. Audience Q&A to follow performance.

Sunday, November 4, 4—5:30 p.m.
A Dance of Wisdom Tales and Tunes
Presented by Storytelling Arts of Indiana, Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra and St. Luke’s United Methodist Church Spiritual Center
St. Luke’s United Methodist Church—100 W. 86th St.
Cost: $10

A blend of metaphors and “wisdom tales,” like the tale of Naked Truth and Parable, will be discussed while incorporating music. These tales will encourage attendees to reflect on their own personal histories and faith as a way to clarify their thoughts and beliefs.


Monday, November 5, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
The Score Awakens
Presented by Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and Indy Lightsaber Academy
Hilbert Circle Theatre—45 Monument Circle
Cost: $5 

The Score Awakens showcases the intersection between music and story by exploring the role John William’s score has in creating the iconic Star Wars universe. Indy Lightsaber Academy will demo how the music inspires epic battles, and everyone will get to learn some sci-fi swordplay.  


Friday, November 9, 1—3 p.m.
Listening for How We Hear
Presented by Hear Me Project and Pin Bureau
Pin Bureau—Community Room—325 S. College Ave.

Music speaks to us all, but in different ways. We seem to just naturally know and accept this. How can we apply this attitude and skill when listening to each other? This event offers a brave space for civic dialogue through the power of asking questions. Participants will experience listening to the same piece of music together – it could be anything from Kendrick Lamar to Bach – and then ask each other how and why the music affected them.


Sunday, November 11, 1—3 p.m.
Where Time Ends and Eternity Begins
Presented by Colette Abel, Butler University Jordan College of the Arts, Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, Meridian Music Company and Encore Orchestral Strings
Butler University—Eidson-Duckwall Recital Hall—4600 Sunset Ave. 

The crowning piece of the program, Oliver Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time, was written and premiered while Messiaen was imprisoned in a concentration camp, Stalag VIII, and was inspired by the Book of Revelations. Framing this composition are works by Heinrich Biber (Crucifixion Sonata), Cecil Burleigh (Ascension Sonata) and James MacMillan (Kiss on Wood), all treating the crucifixion theme.

Spirit and Place Festival 2018 events announced

Annual 10-day Festival connects Central Indiana to the theme of INTERSECTION
Spirit & Place Festival returns for its 23rd year November 2-11

INDIANAPOLIS – The 2018 Spirit & Place Festival celebrates, explores, challenges and reflects on the meaning behind “intersection” in its 23rd year. The Spirit & Place Festival is Indianapolis’s largest collaborative festival that uses the arts, religion and humanities as a tool for shaping individual and community life through 10 days of events designed with community partners, individuals and communities.

During the selection process this year, event submissions that exemplified key traits of the Spirit & Place Festival were nominated for an “Award of Awesomeness.” The winning event will receive a $1,000 award at the end of the festival. A preview of these events, as well as information about this year’s signature events, is outlined below. A full listing of events is available here.


Opening Night: Intersections!
Friday, November 2, 6 – 9 p.m.
Harrison Center
1505 N. Delaware St.

Kick off this year’s Spirit & Place Festival during an INTERSECTION themed night at the Harrison Center. The Harrison Center serves as a home for artists of all races, ages, social groups, neighborhoods, faiths and more to intersect with one another – and you! Bring the family out for a fun night of discovery to meet with artists. Explore how styles, mediums, colors and shapes collide and blend to create Indy’s vibrant arts community.

23rd Annual Public Conversation
Sunday, November 11, 3:30 – 5 p.m.
Indiana State Museum
650 W. Washington St.

Featuring Zeynep Tufekci, this year’s Public Conversation will discuss the intersections of social media, politics and our everyday lives. Zeynep Tufekci is a techno-sociologist who focuses on social movements and civics, privacy and surveillance and social interactions. Tufekci’s latest book, Twitter and Teargas, thoughtfully examines both the positive and negative ways digital platforms support the work of social change.


Explore Art-omotive!
Saturday, November 3, 10 a.m. – 1 pm
Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum
4790 W. 16th St.

Explore Art-omotive! will delve into the relationship between art, design and the history of automobiles. Participants will watch a virtual engine build competition, participate in a “car parade,” design their car of the future and explore the history of automotive design in this family friendly event.

Hummus & Happiness
Monday, November 5, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Indiana Interchurch Center
1100 W. 42nd St.

Hummus & Happiness invites people of varying cultures, religions and nationalities to join in their shared humanity and explore how Israelis, Arabs and Palestinians who may be Jewish, Muslim or Christian connect to this delicious food. After viewing Hummus! The Movie, guests are invited to sample hummus recipes from around the world while local hummus-makers share their stories. ​

The Score Awakens
Monday, November 5, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Hilbert Circle Theatre
45 Monument Circle
$5 – RSVP by November 2 

The Score Awakens showcases the intersection between music and story by exploring the role John William’s score has in creating the iconic Star Wars universe. Indy Lightsaber Academy will demo how the music inspires epic battles, and everyone will get to learn some sci-fi swordplay.

Afrofuturism in Action: A Conversation with Tobias Buckell
Friday, November 9, 6 – 8:30 p.m.
Kheprw Institute/Renaissance Center
3549 Boulevard Place

Black Panther. Parliament-Funkadelic. Octavia E. Butler. Janelle Monae. Afrofuturism is the reimagining of a future filled with arts, science and technology seen through a black lens. It’s a literary and creative genre that allows us to discuss matters of race, gender and social justice as well as model possibilities for the future.  Hear from Tobias Buckell, author of Crystal RainArctic Rising, and Halo: The Cole Protocol, and join in a community conversation where we use art, science and faith to imagine a future together.

Convergence: Connecting our Shared Experience through Performance and Prose
Saturday, November 10, 3 – 6 p.m.
The Church Within
1125 Spruce St.

The Indianapolis artistic community is a diverse group of people from all walks of life and backgrounds. Featuring many local artists, attendees will reflect on the convergence of artistry, culture and tradition through poetic prose, rhythmic dance and visual storytelling. Spoken word, visual art, dance and music will intersect during this event to showcase stories of historically silenced communities and the power of unity. It will also include a hands-on learning portion and time to interact with the performers.

About Spirit & Place:
Celebrating the theme of INTERSECTION in 2018, Spirit & Place honors the role the arts, humanities and religion play in shaping individual and community life. Through its November festival, people-centered community engagement, and year-round activities, Spirit & Place links people, places, ideas and organizations to stimulate collaboration, experimentation and conversation. A national model for building civically engaged communities, Spirit & Place is an initiative of The Polis Center, part of the Indiana University School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI. Major partners include Lilly Endowment Inc.; Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation, Inc.; Bohlsen Group; Central Indiana Community Foundation; IUPUI; IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI; The Polis Center at IUPUI; and more than 200 other community partners and donors. For more information, call The Polis Center at (317) 274-2455 or visit


Intersections in Performance/Life: A glimpse of artist and teacher Gerry Trentham

By Lani Weissbach, MFA

With others, how are we transformed, imprisoned, or set free, by our habit selves, our natural and constructed environments? Can we embrace the unknown to learn beyond division (of culture, art form, nationhood)? How do we, together, in our individual distinctiveness, negotiate with integrity in order to share resources and life, not only as human nature, but Nature’s human?” 

 — Gerry Trentham

When I first saw Gerry Trentham perform, he wasn’t doing any fancy tricks. He was pushing a squeaky wheelbarrow loaded with tree branches across the stage, pausing only to acknowledge the humor of the moment by looking directly at the audience and sharing a giggle with them. At that moment, I thought, “I gotta spend as much time in this guy’s presence as possible.”

My calling in life has been to teach, create, connect and transform through the art of dance/movement. From the early, formative years back in the late 1980’s to the present, I’ve been incredibly blessed to have many brilliant teachers. I only call a few of them mentors – teachers who continue to inspire me and help me discover my path. Gerry is definitely one of them. His artistry appeals to my love of contradiction, unapologetic presence (no matter how messy,) and poetic processes that move us into deep and revelatory places. Indeed, something profound happens with this kind of work – as a participant or audience member – that defies definition and is utterly compelling.

Although Gerry’s entire 30+ year international career has been devoted to dance and theater, (perhaps we can say his work is the quintessential intersection of those forms,) there’s a lot more to it than that. Gerry’s creative work and teaching is truly an original approach to performance, blending “written/spoken poetic text, dance, human gesture, sound, music, and visual and media art” in a way that is both striking in the moment and resonates deeply over time.   He describes his teaching as “sourced in his art-making and his eternal interest in his own and others’ potential presence in performance.”

This November, Indianapolis will have the unique opportunity to experience Gerry’s work firsthand. The Indianapolis Movement Arts Collective (IMAC), NoExit Performance and Indy’s District Theatre have invited Gerry Trentham to be a featured presenter for a two-week interdisciplinary residency from November 4th – 18th, 2018, with generous support from the Arts Council of Indianapolis. Gerry’s residency this fall is the inaugural OPEN Indy event, an annual IMAC and NoExit Performance collaboration designed to bring top-notch interdisciplinary teachers and artists to our community for training geared toward all levels of experience, from the novice to the professional.

The programming during the two weeks this November speaks directly to this year’s Spirit and Place theme of intersection, as it is designed to connect our theater, dance, vocal performance and visual arts communities and to encourage cross-disciplinary collaboration in the region. Gerry will lead a series of workshops that introduce artists of varied disciplines to each other’s community and to interdisciplinary practice. But the theme of intersection doesn’t end there. This project encourages sharing not only between disciplines but between nations. Gerry is the artistic director of lbs/sq” based in Toronto, and senior director of the company’s Fulcrum Project (for which I am an associate artist.) His Indy residency will help to foster a bi-national exchange and dialogue between our two cities and nations, encouraging us to find new ways for both American and Canadian artists to share their vision and markets.

“Sharing our artistic practice is more necessary than ever if we are to survive the current political climate that does not celebrate the arts as a necessity to building healthy communities,” Gerry says.

There is going to be something for everyone with OPEN Indy, so get out your calendar and plan to bring your OPEN, curious mind!

Workshop Experiences: There will be two community workshops for the beginner/mixed level, and two for more advanced performers. For information and to register, visit:

Performance Experiment: Sign up to participate in a one-of-a-kind opportunity! With Gerry as our guide, we will co-create a performance piece that integrates trained and untrained performers alike. The piece will be part of the Residency Performance on November 16-17, 2018, described below. For more information and to register, visit:

Residency Performance: In a shared show with local artists, Gerry will perform Yellow Scale, a 40-minute solo from his full-length work Four Mad Humours, which earned him a Toronto Dora award in 2011. Performances will take place at the District Theatre on Friday & Saturday, November 16-17, 2018. For tickets, visit:

Lani Weissbach serves as Director of Artist Residencies and Embodied Learning for the Indianapolis Movement Arts Collective (IMAC) and teaches a variety of workshops and classes throughout the region. For more about Lani, please visit:

My Community

by Brandon

Right outside my narrow penitentiary window is a vibrant never-ending landscape just beyond my reach. Every day, I sit and watch the world move and shake with the grind of living in this new day and age, and I remember.

I am almost two decades removed from my era and the world that I knew. I remember a time when things were different, when my parents listened to grown folk music like Al Green, Sam Cooke and B.B. King and threw late night house parties and got drunk. They did dance routines while I drew pictures and told jokes, and it was all good fun for everyone as I wafted through liquor fumes and cigarette smoke. I remember a time when kids were made to go outside and play. I remember my sister and I would debate all the awful things that would happen if we dared drink.

Then, I remember when it all ended: when court-cases heartaches separated my friendships, when gang banging became my way of life, when the Department of Corrections became my plight, where guns transformed into knives, and wrongs replaced my rights.

I cannot forget solitary confinement and realizing how far down the rabbit hole that I went. Surrounded by the suicidal swings of being buried alive and someone still trying to keep a glimmer of false hope inside, even after my Daddy and sister died. I struggle on, remembering where I came from, what I lived through, and the future that I’m headed toward.

I am meant for greatness. I’m meant for more. I can’t wait until the day I can only remember looking out of this narrow caged-in window with the shitty view and instead embrace the feeling I had leaving behind a mountain of misery that kept my soaring spirt shamefully glued to the floor and having pride with my head held high, leaving out the oppressive penitentiary door.

Brandon A. is an inmate currently living at Plainfield Correctional Facility. He is a participant of Indiana Prison Writers Workshop. Once released, he plans on pursuing a career in culinary arts by operating a food truck while continuing writing.


by Debra Des Vignes

Nobody warns you that empathy is an unraveling; that familiarity becomes untied when you’re no longer familiar to yourself – like when you arrive at a place where life gives new meaning. This happens to me each week in prison. I place my keys, purse, and book bag on a scanner for the first guard to search. I pass a second guard station. Then, I walk along a cold concrete floor where emotions are bare, where guard-inmate relationships are distant. I assume the felon position; arms outstretched and sign in with the purpose of my visit. Sounds of steel doors reverberate like a 12-guage shot gun. I settle in a classroom alone, locked in, waiting for eleven men to share their ideas, hopes, thoughts, dreams, and vulnerabilities with me. When I’m having a bad week one offers this advice, “While other people may be able to stop you temporarily, you’re the only one who can stop you permanently.” It’s true, and I use the advice through the week and it gets me through the next. They are at a crossroads in life but so am I.

My students wear tan-colored jumpsuits that button up the front over white T-shirts. Sneakers are all white. My job is to teach them how to write, so I make a list of prompts, but by the second class I find that I am the one learning too. “Scratch” means “money,” “wiped down” means “robbed,” “a dime” means “ten years.” And “The Slam” is the staple food of correctional institutions: Ramen, peanut butter, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, and ranch dressing, and I learn how to connect papers by tearing off the ends to make a staple. I ask them to describe an everyday noise that drives them crazy. A favorite holiday. Their first love. Amazed by the ease with which they open-up and their willingness to share secrets – then I lose two students along the way to early release dates – and I feel the loss harder than I expected. And I ask myself, was there more I could have taught them?

Author Samuel Johnson said, “Everything that enlarges the sphere of human powers, that shows man he can do what he thought he could not do, is valuable.” More than the humid smell of eleven bodies joined in a room each week – what permeates this place isn’t the stench of suppressed energy, testosterone buzzing like a thousand-volt live wire – it’s the sacred space we create – a sense of home that moves us beyond these prison halls, away from our past, and away from our troubles – into a place where only light grows.

Under the Mat

by Phil

Two inches of cotton wrapped in plastic, formed and fitted to resemble a mattress placed on top of a steel frame is where I lay my head every day with two sheets and two blankets and a pillow that wasn’t issued. Nope, I had to make it. That pretty much describes every bed in prison – just to give you a little insight on how we’re living. But, what makes each bed different? It’s not how the bed looks. It is what’s under the mat: a lot of legal mail and paperwork from the courts, pictures of loved ones showing support, swimsuit magazines and hood books of all titles, state envelopes, newspapers, some version of the Bible, a fairly new jumpsuit only to be worn to visits that is creased and neatly folded to give that “fresh” appearance, request slips to counselors that will never get a reply, broken down razors for a haircut and a line. And there’s that one thing we all hate to see: a calendar. But for some reason we still take a peak – that itself gives us a reason to never come back and put the things we cherish most, under the mat.

Phil is an inmate currently living at Plainfield Correctional Facility. He is a participant of Indiana Prison Writers Workshop. Once released, he plans to start a not-for-profit for performing arts helping minority youth. I’d like to show them the alternatives to running the streets.

Happy Birthday

by Phil

Can you believe that at age 29, I’ve never had a birthday party? Sucks, right? Imagine being seven or eight years old, going to your sister’s birthday party, or even a friend from the neighborhood and not having a party of your own. No cake or ice cream. I’ve never made a wish. I’ve never blown out candles. I don’t know what that feels like. I’ve always wondered: what do people wish for when they blow out the candles while they’re making their wish? I wish I had a birthday party.

Phil is an inmate currently living at Plainfield Correctional Facility. He is a participant of Indiana Prison Writers Workshop. Once released, he plans to start a not-for-profit for performing arts helping minority youth. I’d like to show them the alternatives to running the streets.