In 2013 and 2014, we are visiting 5 towns named Milton, in Massachusetts, North Carolina, Louisiana, Oregon and Wisconsin. In each town, we are meeting a diverse cross-section of people and talking to them and asking them questions about their lives and the world. How did you get to Milton? If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be? We are also working with Jim Findlay to shoot 24 hours of video footage of the sky over each Milton. Why the sky? Well, in our minds, these five Miltons stretch over, up and across the United States, forming an earth-bound constellation.
The conversations we are having are helping us discover the story of this constellation. Our experiences in each Milton will be the inspiration for a performance we’re making that we will bring back to each Milton, and perform in other cities. We are early in our process, but picture three performers of different ages and races speaking and singing, surrounded by video of the day and night skies of Milton. Sometimes it might feel like being in a planetarium. Sometimes it might feel like being at the opera. Sometimes it might feel like being at a family birthday barbecue, under a big sky.
We’re creating our constellation of Miltons to fight any generalities we might have about being American, or about small town life. Over the two years that we were making our last project, How to Build a Forest, the economy crashed, revolution spread virally across the Middle East in the name of democracy, and the divide between Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. practically shut down the government. When we started thinking about MILTON, it was election season, and the TV radio and the internet were overflowing with platitudes and generalities about what it means to be an “American”. We feel like we have, at best, a tenuous grasp on what it means to be American. By traveling to towns we’d never need to go to and talking to people we’d never have a reason to meet, we seek order and meaning: Like the Big Dipper for a sailor out at sea, can this newly-born constellation help locate us? Guide us? What wisdom will we find there?
Visit our Sky Over Milton blog, which tracks the project and invites Miltonians to participate in our research.