by Emily DeVoti
Produced by New Georges and New Feet Productions
When someone says that they really got their hands dirty working on something, it’s usually a figure of speech. Not so for MILK by Emily DeVoti. The play takes place on a small, family-run dairy farm and, in the course of several years of development, we made it literal.
MILK was the product of an amazing development process that included readings and workshops supported by New Georges and a glorious week in Hunter, NY at the Orchard Project. During that workshop, we immersed ourselves in the rural landscape – the retreat’s setting perfectly replicating the play’s setting. The week’s highlights included a visit to a small dairy farm where we talked to the farmers for hours, learned how to milk their cows and drank their raw milk.
After working for one day in our beautiful but neutral rehearsal room, I moved our rehearsals to more resonant locations. For scenes that took place in a field, we rehearsed in a field. For scenes in the farmhouse kitchen, we rehearsed in the kitchen of the farmhouse we were staying in. It was like making a film; the site-specific experience intensified our work, yielding amazing discoveries in an extremely short time.
When we were in pre-production with New Georges, I knew that our cast needed the same kind of rural immersion we had gotten at the Orchard Project. Emily and I had developed a relationship with Hawthorne Valley Farm, a biodynamic farm in the Hudson Valley. We took our cast there for a few days; we woke before down to milk cows, did farm chores and witnessed the birth of a calf. While MILK is fundamentally a parable – not at all naturalistic – having the dirt on our hands from our time on farms informed every choice we made, profoundly shaping what the play became.
Cast: Jordan Baker, Carolyn Baeumler, Peter Bradbury, Jon Krupp, Anna Kull and Noah Robbins.
Designers: Amy Altadonna, Lenore Doxsee, Emily Pepper and Susan Zeman Rogers.
Learn more about New Georges.
“A New Georges–New Feet collaboration premiering at Here, directed by Jessica Bauman, Milk is rich, unexpected, and often enthrallingly vivid.” – Village Voice.
“The director, Jessica Bauman, stages action deftly (especially nice is a wordless bit in which pails are handed back and forth from the house to the barn).” – New York Times.