We Players Takes Textiles Faculty Sasha Duerr and Soil to Studio to the Stage

Actor in flowing garment outside at Sutro Baths

CCA students from the spring 2016 EcoTAP Soil to Studio course, taught by organic dye expert and Textiles Program faculty member Sasha Duerr, are seeing their work -- in the form of costumes made from natural dyed fabrics -- performed on stage by Bay Area site-specific theater company We Players.

The organic-dyed costumes are featured in the company's production of William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet, directed and co-produced by We Players artistic director Ava Roy (with We Players managing director Lauren D. Chavez). The production plays through September 25 at Petaluma Adobe State Historical Park in Sonoma County.

(The production will be reprised at Villa Montalvo in Saratoga October 6-16. Visit the website to buy tickets.)

Soil to Studio students also harvested organic plants and minerals (with the permission of the National Park Services) and used salt-water dye baths to make the sea sprite ensemble costumes featured in the We Players’ 2015 production of Ondine at Sutro Baths. All the capes and silk dresses were dyed with native coastal plants.

See Ondine production images »

The efforts earned the company’s costume designer, Brooke Jennings, a 2015 Theatre Bay Area (TBA) award for best costumes.

Watch a clip from Ondine »

About Soil to Studio

The Soil to Studio course is part of CCA’s college-wide EcoTAP curricular initiative -- an identifiable network of courses aimed at students who are curious about ecological theory and practice.

Read more about CCA's committment to sustainability »

Inquisitive learners in the course explore the exploding field of Slow Textiles and Slow Fashion, plant-based color, and the intersection of social practice and land-based arts.

Through an in-depth study of regenerative design, investigative fieldwork, and studio work, students follow a trajectory from "Soil to Studio."

Through experimentation with locally grown fibers and dyes -- with a particular investment in products derived from edible plants – students advocate for nature and nurture through the revival of nontoxic, organic, and place-based recipes.

Students also learn about direct sources of organic and nontoxic materials through hands-on experience in fiber and dye gardening, innovative sourcing of materials from weeds and waste, and dormant recipes for bio-diverse hues from a vast array of botanical sources.

See Soil to Studio students in action »

(To identify EcoTAP courses by term, add “eco-“ to your WebAdvisor course search.)

Faculty Expertise: Sasha Duerr

“Engagement through place-based education, place-based materials, and place-based partnerships,” explains Duerr,” instills connection.

“It is inspiring to witness the many ways in which an engaged experience within the community opens authentic creativity as there is literally real ground to draw upon to make work that matters.”

Participating CCA students and faculty are at the forefront of defining the range of cultural engagements with the complex interaction of society and nature.

Read a related Huffington Post article »

We Players a Valued Community Partner

Fall 2014
We Players served as the outside experts for a cross-listed Community Arts  and Diversity Studies course, "Activating Public Space," taught by Center for Art and Public Life (the Center) Director Shalini Agrawal and Diversity Studies and Center scholar-in-residence Chris Treggiari.

Fall 2012
We Players, California State Parks / Angel Island, Angel Island Conservancy, and CCA collaborated to present site-specific student work in an island-wide public art installation on Angel Island.

The installation served as the central project of an MFA elective course, ENGAGE: Gatekeeping Nation, taught by CCA alumnus and We Players Visual Arts Director Patrick Gillespie (MFA 2009) and CCA First Year Program and Community Arts faculty member Aaron Gach.

Learn more about ENGAGE at CCA »

About Sasha Duerr

Sasha Duerr is an artist and designer who works with organic dyes, alternative fibers, and the creative reuse of materials. Her work is a cross-pollination of textiles and environmental systems thinking, inspired by ecological principles found in permaculture as well as regenerative design for food, clothing, and shelter.

Duerr's textiles are hand-woven with fibers that investigate nature and nurture and are dyed with a revival of nontoxic, organic place-based recipes.

Duerr's latest book, Natural Color: Vibrant Plant Dye Projects for Your Home and Wardrobe, was just released this month by Ten Speed Press. Meet the author at a book party and signing at Homestead Apothecary Thursday, September 1, from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

Read more about Sasha Duerr »

About We Players

We Players presents site-integrated performance events that transform public spaces into realms of participatory theater. The company brings communities together, reclaiming local spaces for public discourse and civic celebration through art.

Extending the transformative powers of performance beyond the stage, We Players invites its collaborators and audience to engage fully and awaken to the spectacular world around us.

Visit the We Players website »


Soil to Studio: Rediscovering the Oakland Campus with Sasha Duerr
Huffington Post: In Living Color: Plant Dyeing with Sasha Duerr
More images from Ondine

[cover photo: Ondine at Suthro Baths by Jim Norrena]