Human rights issues are not simply cultural and political. They sometimes are fodder for creative works that, in turn, inspire others to make a difference.
They also are the impetus behind New Conservatory Theatre Center ushering in its second international show this year with “When it Settles.” A benefit for NCTC’s New Plays Program, it’s unique in that it not only spotlights two lesbian British artists, but it’s also a production divided in two — one half is dance, performed by Carrie Whitaker, the other is a theater piece with Louie Jenkins.
The show unfolds in three performances beginning Friday.
In many ways, the theme originated from NCTC artistic director Ed Decker and the human rights-themed play he and husband Robert Leone have been working on, called “Rights of Passage.”
“During the research process and talking to LGBTQ people from around the world, we began to see that beyond the human rights stuff, there was really not much cross-collaboration happening internationally,” Decker says. “A lot of it has to do with economics, but also our preoccupation with our own issues and needs here at home. But sometimes, by opening up the lens a little bit you may be able to see not only what is going on for other people around the world, but other creative impulses that might lead to solutions.”
The first half of “When it Settles” features “Here, Still Here, Still,” a solo dance piece starring Whitaker. There’s a narrative thread running through the work, which finds the performer creating a story about a woman who has had a history and now finds herself reflecting on it. And feeling it — through dance.
Then there’s “Smoke for Dust,” a solo theater performance headlined by Jenkins, who was actually a staff member of NCTC years ago and is now a senior lecturer at the University of Chichester, where she specializes in solo performance.
“Smoke” balances both truth and fiction with elements of fable. Or, as the artist puts it, it’s “a story of love, loss and Lysol.” Think Queen’s English with muscle.
“This is sort of a coming home process for her,” Decker says. “But the show is also a unique opportunity to bring an experience to the community that has a special focus on women artists — lesbians — that is especially significant.”
It all fuels NCTC’s ongoing push to bring inviting tales to life. As Decker puts it: “It’s really about being able to commit to art that hopefully engages the community in inspirational ways.”
IF YOU GO
Where: New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday
Contact: (415) 861-8972, www.nctcsf.org