By Kristin Arzt
Soon after Susan Mernit took over as Executive Director of The Crucible, she began engaging in one-on-one and group conversations with faculty, staff, students, board members, and community members about how The Crucible should celebrate its 20 years of history as a fine and industrial arts school.
“Very quickly, I was struck by how the longtime Crucible community understood and embraced fire as a critical part of The Crucible’s identity,” explains Mernit. With a long history of holding Fire Arts Festivals, Fire Operas, and Fire Ballets, doing more with fire performance, fire arts, and fire effects felt essential to the core identity of The Crucible.
“But, at its core The Crucible is a school. So we wanted to take this historical knowledge that Crucible community members have amassed around fire performance and the fabrication of safe and awe-inspiring fire effects, and make it not just a spectacle, but something anyone could come and learn to do,” explains Mernit. “And that’s the Fire Series.”
The Fire Series begins with a survey of how to safely prevent and suppress uncontained fires. Once students master Fire Safety, they have the option to dive deeper into Fire Effects or Fire Performance, where hands-on coursework includes the design and fabrication of effective and beautiful flame effect sculptures and training in a variety of fire performance forms including fire hoop, poi, and staff.
But for many, time in the classroom isn’t enough. “The majority of students can’t set off a fire cannon in their backyard,” laughs Mernit. In Fire Lab, students who have completed at least three courses in the Fire & Performance Department can come work on their own projects under the supervision and mentorship of an instructor. This is an opportunity for fire effects artists and fire performers to devise, build, and execute original fire performance and/or fire effects pieces, and meet others in the Bay Area who are also interested in the fire arts.
The most committed of artists will be invited to participate in The Crucible’s Fire Studio, where their fire effects pieces and performances will be shown in front of a live audience at Crucible events. We are so excited to see what you all create!
The Fire Series would not be possible without support from a generous donor.