State Theatre New Jersey’s artist residencies let people get “up close and personal” with professional performing artists. Each year, thousands of students and adults participate in a variety of activities, from hands-on workshops and masterclasses to performances, informances, and lectures. Artist residencies may be as brief as one or two days or as long as several months, and include both outreach and performance components. All programs are offered free of charge.
Some residency activities bring participants to The State to learn from the world-renowned performers who appear on our stage. Other residencies take artists into the community, reaching out to disadvantaged and underserved groups who have little or no access to the arts.
State Theatre New Jersey’s signature residency program features poet Glenis Redmond. The annual eight-week residency has taken her to over 130 sites throughout New Jersey—including schools, senior centers, libraries, residential treatment facilities, correctional institutions, corporate offices—and touched the lives of more than 16,000 people. Glenis shares her deeply personal poetry in informances and performances for groups both large and small. She also leads writing workshops that showcase her unique gift for teaching and inspiring others to write. Each year’s residency culminates in a community reading where dozens of people share the poems they created in Glenis’ workshops.
Most of State Theatre New Jersey’s residency programs are targeted to specific audiences and open by invitation only, though some events are open to the public.
Glenis has developed strong bonds throughout the community during her years working with State Theatre New Jersey. Her experiences and the people she has met have inspired a number of her poems, including the following piece, which is dedicated to Norma Heflin, who Glenis first met at Quail Brook Senior Center in Somerset in 2014.
Waif-like she’s not of this world
more sprite in body
but giant in spirit.
She’s got a knowing and glowing light.
Everywhere she spins: a dance floor.
Every room she enters,
she spreads magic.
In her light blue eyes: fire
able to see into the depths.
Her arms never at rest
always reaching towards beauty
towards making this world
better than it is.
When Norma spins
gray is not an option.
She whirls jewel tones into the world:
magenta, turquoise and golden rays,
but she’s the brightest gem of them all
as she spins
she is the tallest
she is beyond: she is sky
feet never touching ground
a ballerina never at rest.
That’s how she came into my life
spinning like a familiar
like an old friend–
no walls between us
our common bond: dance.
We both twirl
both fluent in grace–
hands, feet and arms
moving to a song
we both hear in our hearts.
fingertips poised toward tomorrow
with the warmth of understanding.
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