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Artist Q+A: Ashli St Armant, Creator of NORTH: The Musical

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Chandler Center for the Arts staff sent a Q & A to the mastermind behind NORTH: The Musical, Ashli St Armant, to find out more about who she is and where NORTH is heading. The debut of NORTH: The Musical came to Chandler Center for the Arts last fall, co-commissioned by four performing arts centers across the U.S., including Chandler Center for the Arts! Don't miss out on your chance to see NORTH: The Musical on February 23 & 24th. Get your tickets today!


CCA Staff: What is new about NORTH this time around?

Ashli St Armant: This time around, we're exploring new ways to let the props, blocking and costuming support the storytelling. To achieve this, our focus is on incorporating materials and theatrical conventions from the time period of the story (mid-1800s). Think antique gardening tools, shadow play, and the tradition of Bouffon clowns. It's wild -- and really exciting!

How has NORTH Progressed since your started out?

Now that we've seen the show on its feet, we understand the relationships between the characters. This allows us to identify what aspects are functioning effectively and what elements require modification in order to enhance the overall narrative. The phrase we continue to ask ourselves is, "Has this been earned?"

Were there any unforseen difficulties between creating NORTH and seeing it through to production? What about triumphs?

Our biggest challenge has been budget! I'm a big dreamer, and those dreams don't always fit neatly into spreadsheets. Lucky for me, I have an incredible creative team that always finds ways to turn these dreams into reality. And actually, building this creative team -- which is really a family now-- has been the greatest triumph of this show. I'm so proud of what we've created. 

What is or has been your favorite part about being a performing artist?

I never forget how blessed I am to wake up every day and create whatever I want. I still can't believe that people want to hear what I have to say. I don't take that lightly. 

What musicians/bands are you listening to right now?

I'm listening to a lot of neo-folk and neo-soul as of late: Alabama Shakes, Brandi Carlile, Lucius, and Emily King, to name a few. 

Best concert or performance you've been to?

The musical Fela! Kind of changed me. It's this immersive play, concert, and storytelling event, all rolled into one -- served on a bed of Afrobeat. It really expanded my understanding of what is possible in theater. 

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

Portugal. They've got it all: history and arts, amazing food, beaches, forests, hip cities, ancient villages, diversity, rich queer culture, free health care, affordability, and loads of castles. CASTLES! It's just magical. 

If you were not an artist, what other profession would you want to have?

Maybe an herbalist. Or a beekeeper. Don't judge me. LOL 

Is there anything else you would like to tell our patrons?

I really appreciate every single person who walks into a theatre and takes a chance on me. Thank you! From the depths of my soul!!  I know I make art around subjects that are difficult. In everything I do, my goal is not to answer any questions -- my hope is to start the conversations.

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