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Theater company from England performs at BSC ArtsQuest

Posted on 4/18/2013

The Paper Birds Theatre Company
The Paper Birds Theatre Company from England performing 'In a Thousand Pieces'
An experimental theater troupe from England begins a three-day residency April 22 in Bismarck that includes two performance nights and daily workshops in theater movement and creativity.

Bismarck State College ArtsQuest and the University of Mary have brought The Paper Birds Theatre Company from Leeds, England, to perform "In a Thousand Pieces," a fearless yet delicate portrayal of sex trafficking in the United Kingdom.

The three female performers and their composer, Shane Durrant, will be on stage Tuesday and Wednesday, April 23 and 24, at 7:30 p.m. in Belle Mehus City Auditorium, downtown Bismarck. All performances and workshops are free of charge.

This artistic exploration of abuse is a woven patchwork of accounts, misunderstanding, movement, text and original live music. Jemma McDonnell and co-founders Kylie Walsh and Leone Moreton use ice creams, suitcases, floorboards and buttons to tell the physically and visually moving story of a young Eastern European girl and her journey to England to seek a better life. The three combine roles to become Everywoman as they seek an answer for epidemic sex slavery. Attendance is not recommended for viewers under age 14.

The Paper Birds are in Bismarck with the assistance of BSC Theatre Director Dan Rogers, who saw the production in Prague in 2008 and helped the ArtsQuest Committee with arrangements.

"‘In a Thousand Pieces' is THE most powerful experience I've had in my 40 years in the theater," Rogers said. "It is first and foremost a great piece of theater, and additionally, a very important piece of theater. It is the kind of theater that saves people's lives."

In Europe, "In a Thousand Pieces" won the Edinburgh Fringe Festival's First Award for innovation and outstanding new writing, the Fringe Review Award for outstanding theatre, and The Best of Prague Fringe Award. It was shortlisted for an Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award and received praise from The British Theatre Guide.

After each performance, audience members can participate in a talkback discussion about the work and hear a response from a panel of anti-violence advocates.

Public workshops with The Paper Birds start Monday, April 22, at BSC's National Energy Center of Excellence. Troupe members share their artistic process of creating "In a Thousand Pieces" at 9, 10 and 11 a.m. in Basin Electric Auditorium (304). Their afternoon movement workshop for singers, dancers and actors takes place from 1 to 3 p.m. in the Bavendick Stateroom. Participants will explore cutting-edge movement techniques related to choreographer Pina Bausch and other influences.

Activities move to the University of Mary Tuesday, April 23, with a 9 a.m. workshop by The Paper Birds and a 1 p.m. presentation on sex trafficking by Patrick Atkinson, founder and executive director of the Institute for Trafficked, Exploited and Missing Persons. Both events are scheduled in Arno Gustin Hall.

On Wednesday, April 24, BSC hosts the second creative process workshop for "In a Thousand Pieces" at 10 a.m. in the NECE auditorium (304). A workshop on devised theater runs from 1-3 p.m. in Sidney J. Lee Auditorium, Schafer Hall, in which The Paper Birds and members of The Group That Opened the Box and Prevent Child Abuse North Dakota work with BSC actors.

The company, co-founded in 2003, is an all-female performance collective that specializes in visual and physical theater. Members strive to create devised work that is "important, culturally, socially and politically observational, and conversationally urgent." The concept for "In a Thousand Pieces" began in 2007 with a research and development period in Poland.

ArtsQuest is a month-long campus celebration of music, art, theater, literature and film held annually for the campus and community. It began in 1998 as a project of the Arts and Communication Department to widen educational experience by inviting guest artists and highlight the talents of BSC students. For a detailed schedule, visit

Funding for The Paper Birds Theatre Company was provided by BSC ArtsQuest, University of Mary, BSC Foundation, and the BSC Diversity Committee.

About Bismarck State College
Bismarck State College, an innovative community college in Bismarck, N.D., offers high quality education, workforce training, and enrichment programs reaching local and global communities. For more information, visit

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