We had the good fortune of connecting with Anna Miles and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Anna, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
As artists, our work inherently contains personal risk- and, as radical feminist performance artists, our work contains the added risk of being despised and torn apart by those unwilling to hear what we have to say. We are in the business of vulnerability, of subversion, of social irreverence and discomfort and challenge, of confronting truths that many feel very uneasy about confronting. With every event we create at Beating of Wings, we put ourselves in front of a proverbial firing squad: we’re saying, “here we are, we are women and we are non-male people and we are marginalized artists, and we will say what we need to say, and we will say it in our own spaces, and in our own ways. We refuse to be polite any longer.” Our very existence as a company is a risk taken by each and every one of our members and collaborators- so it’s no wonder that when we’re exhausted, working long hours into the night rehearsing in a dusty dark space after already working full hours at our day jobs, the personal anxieties and fears of being vulnerable, of opening oneself up to the awaiting claws of a potentially vicious audience, come out in those small ways.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m currently the Founding Artistic Director of Beating of Wings: An Artist Collective, a feminist theater company and creative community based in Los Angeles. Beating of Wings is committed to building a community which supports women and other underrepresented artists in their journeys to create, develop, and produce vital, socially conscious work; we celebrate art that brings forth those voices that have been forgotten, forbidden, and suppressed, and which presents unique interpretations of the world that are fresh, new, and necessary. Beating of Wings prizes innovative storytelling and approaches its work with a true collaborative spirit. While our mission and much of our language emphasizes women as our primary focus, our collective is for every person, female or otherwise, who has ever felt silenced, in the arts or in life. Beating of Wings is primarily concerned with the production of theater and staged events, but the collective is also committed to the intersections between different art forms and strives to maintain a diverse roster of female ensemble members, both in terms of their artistic fields and in terms of their life experiences. Right now, our company is still a little baby fledgling, especially after the forced global hiatus that was 2020. But in 2019 we gained momentum making some awesome new work, including our workshop production of “A Sad Tale’s Best for Winter” with Noise Now in November 2019. We’re excited to get our gears turning once again as soon as live events are safe, and we still have big goals to move forward and build something beautiful and sustainable that will allow us to keep putting valuable unheard stories into the world. Check us out and learn more about us at beatingofwingscollective.com! As for me personally, I always harbored a dream to start a theater company, but spent most of my life pursuing a career in acting. I’m now in the process of shifting my focus primarily to directing- a dream I’ve also harbored since childhood but which I didn’t fully embrace until 2017, when I directed a production of Daddy Long Legs: The Musical in LA, and realized that not only was I most fully myself when behind the table, but that there, I also had a lot more to offer the theater- and the world.So by now, I’ve directed many more plays, several storytelling and cabaret events, some film and some multimedia projects, in addition to founding Beating of Wings. My most recent work, besides the aforementioned production of “A Sad Tale’s Best for Winter,” include #NeverAlone, The Zenith Wellness Retreat, and Cassandra: Q+A!, all parts of an immersive online performance art experience which started on Instagram and now spans the Internet (visit zenithwellnessretreat.com or follow @cassandra_clemm on Instagram to being your journey into the insane). And feel free to check out my personal website, annajunemiles.com, to watch my directing reel and to learn more about me and my work!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’d suggest getting one (or several) coconut margaritas at Casa Vega in Sherman Oaks, maybe enjoying a literary themed cocktail at the Library Bar in Hollywood (if you can Uber or walk there- I couldn’t in good conscience recommend anyone try to park in Hollywood), or, if you still have time to kill in Anaheim after your Disneyland day, I’d recommend getting some food and drinks in the Anaheim Packing House District. If this hypothetical trip happened in August, I would also highly recommend attending the Labyrinth of Jareth Masquerade Ball held at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in DTLA- it’s by far my favorite LA event of all time. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to dedicate my Shout Out to the entire ensemble and extended family of artists behind Beating of Wings, particularly the leadership within the collective, who are also my closest creative partners and collaborators: Val Larsen, Melissa Dunham, Katie DeShan, Megan Ruble, Christine Ferguson, Himerria Wortham, and Lucia Joyce. I’d also like to dedicate this to Chloe Cole and Sabina Friedman-Seitz, who have allowed me to stay radically creative during quarantine. Basically, I want to acknowledge the incredible creative community of women and non-binary people I’m fortunate enough to be surrounded by: there are so many names not listed here, but you know who you are! You inspire me every day! And I’ll also throw in a shout out to a male person who happens to be a huge part of my personal and creative journey: my partner Jonathan Fisher, an amazing actor who is always supportive of my artistic feminist endeavors and ambitions.
Chassey Bennett Chris Meissner Max Herzfeldt Miranda Clement