After 10 years of bestowing cash awards on visual artists, the Charlotte Street Foundation began in 2008 to recognize performing artists who'd put their stamp on Kansas City's arts community.
Kansas City, Mo. – This year's field of 29 nominees was narrowed to two winners: Jim Mobberley, a veteran composer and UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance professor, and theater director and playwright Kyle Hatley. KCUR's Steve Walker discovered how both men reconfigure traditional ideas of music and theater.
photos: Steve Walker/KCUR
Electronic music composer Jim Mobberley and theater director/playwright Kyle Hatley have their respective art forms deeply embedded in their DNA. But what may have led to both of them receiving the 2011 Generative Performing Artists Awards from the Charlotte Street Foundation is how adept they are at experimenting with other artists and disciplines.
According to Mobberley, collaboration is a priority for him. "Anytime I have a conversation with any artist, my mind expands," he says. "And so by having the luck of being in a town like Kansas City with an enormous collection of varied artists from several disciplines, it gave me an enormous palette of conversations to have."
Mobberley's music combines electronic and computer elements with live performance and has been played by orchestras and soloists, and heard in films. Here's a sample of Mobberley's work from "Icarus Wept, Movement One."
[Excerpt from "Icarus Wept, Movement One"]
Though Mobberley's work has also earned him a Guggenheim Fellowship, he says being recognized by Kansas City artists feels more personal.
"These are people that I not only respect in their various fields but I know them and sometimes hang out with some of them," says Mobberley. "It acknowledges again both sides of the work - the intensely personal internal work and the external work of working together to build something bigger than us."
Kyle Hatley moved here from Chicago in 2008, having been hired as the Kansas City Repertory Theatre's associate artistic director. I asked him if winning the award at the age of 30 raises the bar he'd set for himself.
"It does, I guess. But I think people have come to expect that in my independent work, I try to keep a certain level of risk behind the work that I generate and I think audiences here know that - specifically the artistic community here understands that," says Hatley. "They know that whatever they come to see that I'm working on - it may work or it may not. But the level of risk is there and very present."
Having just directed an acclaimed production of "Carousel" and about to jump into the Fringe Festival, Hatley says he has projects lined up like a Netflix queue.
"If things calm down for too long, I get really antsy and creating projects and generating things is sort of makes me feel alive, makes me feel connected to anyone. It makes me feel more like me," says Hatley. "And I've come to understand that since I came to Kansas City as a definition of myself, so it's inherent in me that I try to keep moving, I try to keep creating and keep working. That's true of any artist."
Summer will find both men busy. Jim Mobberley will be visiting Thailand and China and Kyle is working on an adaptation of the classic German play "Woyzeck" for this year's Fringe Festival.
A public performance of the work of this year's Charlotte Street Foundation Generative Performing Awards Fellows is planned for fall of 2011.
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