Meet HPI 2018: Madeline Shuron

Madeline is a student at Bryn Mawr College and HPI 2018 artist whose solo work asks questions about internal processes and external social boundaries. Madeline is an actor and movement artist exploring what it means to be an individual maker this semester. Catch her reading French theorists who empower and celebrate woman bodies.

Can you describe your experience at HPI up to this point? Thinking back to day one at orientation, the welcome dinner, salons, fall break, and now halfway through?

It’s definitely been different than I was expecting. I feel like the Headlong process is really about digging into the process of the thing. And a lot of that has been stressed in all the different classes we’ve been taking and stuff. So it’s been really nice to focus on that in an environment that focuses on that even if I came into the process thinking it was going to be about the work.

You’re at Bryn Mawr College right now, so have lived around Philly for a couple years, how do you feel that HPI is fitting into either your BMC self or your Philadelphia self?

That’s a good question, and by this is a good question I mean I don’t know what to say. Mark has always stressed the Bryn Mawr-HPI link and I know a lot of people who did it who went to Bryn Mawr and so it seemed almost natural for me to just do it. So, with my Bryn Mawr self I feel like it fits in very nice, because I’m still close to Bryn Mawr so I can see people on the weekends. But I’m living in Philadelphia and I’m living in South Philly with these people I just met two months ago when we all moved in on September 1st, and so finding that balance between time for myself, and time to be in Philly and be like, okay, I’m not going to see anyone today, but I’m still going to use this to the best of my ability. Maybe I’ll go on a walk in the park or something.

What about artistically, creatively coming from the theater department to Headlong, how is that the same and how is that different?

They definitely have the same core values. I think, the reason I decided to come to Headlong was to figure out whether or not I wanted to be, could be, a maker, as opposed to just a doer and a vessel for preexisting pieces. I think I’m still grappling with that at the moment. It’s definitely really bizarre, being in the space of a maker in a way that’s completely guided by myself. Like at Bryn Mawr we do ensemble derived movement things, and very non-hierarchical -- “okay we’re all doing this together, we’re all an ensemble.” So making these solo pieces that I’ve been doing every week, it’s really different. I’m the one person making the decisions for everything, and that’s not how I’ve been, Bryn Mawr has been my only theater training so that’s not how I was trained nor am in the process of being trained. So to try to flex those muscles, it’s been weird and vulnerable and funky at times. But I would say I’m handling it!

Still thinking about creative ideas, does it feel like you’re bringing questions and little seeds from before the program started, or has being at Headlong sparked new floods of imagination?

I think an equal mix of both. Because, coming in over the summer that was one of the things I kept repeating to myself. I was like “at least at Headlong I’ll be forced to be creative. I have no motivation to make any work,” so the idea that you’ll be in a program where you have a salon [showing] every Monday, I’ve been trying to take advantage of that. I feel like I am taking some things that I was interested in beforehand and I’ve been working on a piece outside of Headlong that I was thinking about beforehand over the summer. And I haven’t shown anything from it, at salon or anything, but it’s something I’m working on outside and knowing that I’m in a creative structure [HPI] during the day makes me want to bring that into my night, outside. But I’ve definitely been getting new ideas and even if they’re not new ideas, I feel I have the drive to actually follow something through pass the first thoughts in my head; like, you see an image and say “ah, that would be a cool image” and you write it down and you just forget about it, but now I think of an image and say “oh that would be really cool, how do I make a piece around this image?”

What are you curious about going forward in the remaining half of Headlong?

I’m curious about working with others, I guess, especially since everything I’ve showed at salon has just been solo pieces. So, doing the dramaturgy for the piece with Faith and Julia and you [Lu] and Genevieve, has been really nice to work with people even if not in a performance aspect, a behind the scenes one. I definitely want to do that. I guess I’m just curious about what my preconceived notions of “good theater” are and how I’m able to break that apart. I was talking to some people about how a lot of the work I’ve been doing is super serious, so I was like, “Ah, I just want to make a piece that’s fun, fun to do on stage. And so I did that! It was fun, I made it serious, but it was fun. Still snuck in there, but ya, I guess exploring more of these realms and places I feel like I shouldn't go to, because like, I think I’m so terrible at comedy.

But we always laugh at you in clown!

That doesn’t count, clowning doesn’t count, that’s a whole other person up there, I don’t know who she is.

But ya, definitely, maybe I’ll actually script something. I’ve never scripted anything, I should do that. I guess I’ve been trying to go into everything “devised theater artists” make, which is very different from straight scripted plays. So I don't know, maybe I’ll go back and make a complete 180.

What’s something that’s either outside your artistic self or adjacent/aside your artistic self that people might want to know about you?

Another good question…I kind of just decided I would be a theater person and every facet of my identity went toward that. Let’s see…I like to read academic texts for fun. Oh! I really love reading, I speak French, and so I read French, and I really like French theorists, so ya, Hélène Cixous. She wrote this essay called "The Laugh of the Medusa" and it’s about women in literature and women writers and taking back stuff like that. The original is always the best way to go. I’m trying to teach myself Russian so I can read Anna Karenina in the original.

Follow Madeline on Instagram!
@madelineshuron