Luna Stage & Ping Chong and Company Announce Talkbacks for Documentary Film: 2.2 Square Miles of Soul: Voices of Orange
2.2 Square Miles of Soul: Voices of Orange
WHEN: beginning May 14 and premiering Tuesday, May 18 - May 23
WHERE: on the Luna Stage website
Luna Stage announces two free public conversations in conjunction with its world premiere 2.2 Square Miles of Soul: Voices of Orange, a documentary film created in association with Ping Chong and Company. The film features interviews with six former and current residents of the City of Orange, New Jersey, reflecting on the social, political, and economic forces that shaped the community over the course of the last century, including historic disinvestment, demographic change, and the fight for representative government.
Special livestream virtual events with the cast and creative team will be held Tuesday, May 18, at 7 pm and Sunday, May 23, at 3 pm. These interactive conversations will offer audience members an inside view into the making of the film, and allow for questions and community sharing. Links to access these Zoom sessions are available on the Luna website.
The culmination of a yearlong collaborative process led by Christina Bixland and Matthew Martinez, 2.2 Square Miles of Soul: Voices of Orange features Turron Kofi Alleyne (Creative Consultant), Tony Benevento, Theresa Borenstein, Robert Currie, Rebecca Doggett, and James A. Manning, as well as the poetry of local resident Judy Isaac.
2.2 Square Miles of Soul investigates the intersection of personal and political histories. The project began with virtual Community Story Circles in the summer of 2020, providing an opportunity for connection during the COVID-19 pandemic. Later that year, the creative team interviewed Orange residents past and present about their life experiences, scripted these pieces into a narrative performance, and collaborated with the storytellers to rehearse and film the project online.
“Assumptions have been challenged, and understanding has deepened across folks who lived in different parts of town, and grew up in different times,” says Bixland. “Our hope is for that kind of impact to have a broader ripple effect—between these storytellers and the audience, and between the audience and the surrounding communities they bring their experience back to.”
“Getting to know these six individuals from Orange has been a joy, and even more so witnessing the evolution of their relationships to each other and to some of the moments in history that impacted their lives personally and collectively,” she adds.
2.2 Square Miles of Soul: Voices of Orange is the latest in Ping Chong and Company’s Undesirable Elements series of community-specific, interview-based theater pieces, examining issues of place, culture, identity, and sense of belonging within communities. It was created at the invitation of, and in partnership with, Luna Stage's Secret Cities initiative, which commissions and produces new work inspired by local interviews and history in an ongoing collaboration between Luna and its surrounding communities.
About Ping Chong and Company
Ping Chong and Company creates theater and art rooted in beauty, precision, and social justice. Founded in New York City in 1975 by Ping Chong—a theatrical innovator and National Medal of Arts recipient—PCC has created over 100 original works for the stage. These range from intimate oral histories that amplify underrepresented voices, to grand scale multidisciplinary productions with puppets, performers, music and projections.
PCC’s work is centered on innovation, collaboration, and community engagement, and increasingly engages multigenerational and interdisciplinary artists to respond to, and build on, Ping Chong’s visionary body of work.
About Luna Stage
Luna Stage develops and produces vibrant plays about local and global experiences. Firmly rooted in New Jersey's Valley Arts District — a crossroads of cultures — Luna brings our communities together for artistic events that spark conversations and create understanding and change.
The recipient of JerseyArts People’s Choice Award for Favorite Small Theatre in NJ for the past two years (2019 & 2020), Luna celebrates 10 years in its West Orange location this year. In addition to professional theatre productions on its MainStage and Luna 2, Luna offers classes for children and adults, opportunities for early-career and established theatre artists to develop new work, and has pivoted during the pandemic to offer a wide variety of free virtual programming.