Pollinators Parade by Lavinia Roberts
Wednesday, July 20th, 5:30 – 8:00 pm
Oppenstein Brothers Memorial Park
12th Walnut, Downtown Kansas City, Missouri
From April 2020 to April 2021, beekeepers in the U.S. lost 45.5% of their managed honeybee population. Normal population turnover would be around 20%, but colony loss hasn’t been that low for many years. The population loss of honeybees has been increasing since the early 2000s. This is the subject matter that playwright, educator, puppeteer, and artist Lavinia Roberts is interested in exploring and portraying through puppetry. As an educator as well as an artist, Lavinia hopes to use her puppet parades to inform people both about the benefits of local pollinators as well as the potential environmental damages that could occur if we continue to lose our pollinators at the rate we are. Puppetry is a way of transposing topics that are often pitched at a highly academic register to tune them to a more approachable melody. Puppets are able to cross the threshold separating the audience from puppeteer. Since Lavinia not only writes and performs her puppetry performances, she also builds the puppets, she is able to fold details into layer after layer of educational content. The materials are the syllabus, the performances are lectures, and our homework is to leave the performance a more informed individual and a more conscientious steward of our natural world.
I am a playwright, educator, installation artist, and puppet designer. I build masks, marionette puppets, backpack puppets, and shadow puppets for films and live performances using wood, paper mache, and other sculpting techniques. I create works in traditional gallery and theatre settings and site-specifically in non-traditional spaces. I have created installations on a museum ship, in an abandoned hospital, in a Victorian house, in a national park, in a 1950s hotel, and in other locations.
I care very deeply about exploring the effects of moral injury on individuals, perpetrators, families, and communities. I am passionate about social justice, feminism, exploring privilege, neurodiversity, and stewardship of the environment. The work I create is centered around these issues and themes.
Mythology, fairy tales, speculative fiction, and history majorly influence my creative practice. I am drawn to speculative fiction as a way to reexamine our world and imagine and explore different ways of being and perceiving. Plays inspired by historical characters and past events can reexamine history from the perspective of a voice not normally heard. I am particularly interested in working-class and women’s history and using the past to discuss and understand the present.