The unique sounds of the Guy Mendilow Ensemble will roll through town at the end of the month, with a special emphasis on outreach to the Wyoming Girls School during the stay in Sheridan.
Wyoming Girls School principal Dixie Cooper said the objective is for the ensemble to use emotionally-evocative songs and stories that are relevant to social themes and stir up some conversation among students.
The organizer of the ensemble, Guy Mendilow, contacted the WYO Theater asking if he and his group could perform in Sheridan. While discussing show times and travel plans, he emphasized his love and focus on residencies. Residencies allow artists to come and stay for an extended period of time, typically three to five days, to work with students in varying capacities of the arts.
Both WYO Theater executive director Erin Butler and Cooper understood that Mendilow appreciates working with populations like that of the Wyoming Girls School, where emotions may not have always been expressed in a positive way.
“As we talked through the residency options, (Mendilow) brought forth this idea of the songwriting residency,” Butler said. “That just resonated with me in terms of some of the stuff the girls at the school have been through and their ability to express themselves in different ways that are maybe more positive than other ways they’ve learned throughout their lives. Songwriting, of course, is one of those things and the arts in general is one of those things.”
Through the residency, Mendilow can evoke emotions and help the girls work through their pasts. He and his group will be working with the high school English classes at the Girls School.
The Wyoming Girls School works with the community to bring the students experiences they would not have otherwise. Cooper said any time the WYO has a show they think would benefit the girls, they call her up and schedule an event.
Butler said while the WYO does have a great relationship with the Girls School, she would like to do more. The residencies the WYO provides are always free to the schools benefitting from the artists’ extended stays in Sheridan.
“It’s an important part of our mission,” Butler said of the residency opportunities for students. “We want to make sure that we’re providing all opportunities for our (community) and if we can do that to places like the Girls School where they wouldn’t ever have that opportunity otherwise then that’s something we really strive to do.”
The ensemble will also perform for the community on Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m. at the WYO Theater. The group recreates music from an island in the Baltics that no longer exists, bringing the culture back to life by singing in the same language and creating a similar feel with the music.