VIDEO: Torn Space Theater presents Rhapsody
Shot by Danielle Lutz, Jake Piskor & David Seifert
Audio Production: Jake Piskor
Video Editor: David Seifert
Music: Make a Life by Nick Jaina
Created in partnership with Hilbert College
By Torn Space Theater in collaboration with Flatsitter
By Dan Shanahan and Melissa Meola
Director: Dan Shanahan
Cast: Bonnie Jean Taylor, Diane Gaidry, Dechen Dolkar
Torn Space artistic director Dan Shanahan continues to experiment with theater and performance expectation, fluidity, and form with this month’s production, Rhapsody.
“We’re going to be focusing on a central female character who is experiencing an intense period of grief, and we view the character in different moments as she encounters her grief, comes to understand it, accepts it, and then is brought to a period of transcendence,” explains Shanahan. “We’re fracturing the character into three distinct parts and each is played by a different actress.”
As with his site-specific pieces, Shanahan began this project with a concept—this past summer, it was Burden, also the title—and then seeks text to support it. “Krzysztof Kieslowski’s film, Blue, was a really good example, but it could go in many directions to stay within the context of the theme,” says Shanahan. “It’s part of a trilogy [the subsequent films are White and Red, the colors of the French flag, in order], but we never had the intention of staging all three films, just doing Blue or parts of Blue on stage.” (The piece is called Rhapsody because Torn Space is constructing an original piece using the same universal themes.)
Also like the Silo City pieces, this event will be a performance installation, though onsite at the Adam Mickiewicz Library & Dramatic Circle. “We’ve constructed a series of small rooms that are part of a larger square—like a rat maze—and the audience enters the piece in groups of two or four, and experiences a series of scenes that last between five and seven minutes. The entire piece lasts approximately sixty minutes,” Shanahan previews. “As the audience progresses, they are experiencing various moments within the time this woman’s experiencing this grief. The audience doesn’t interact with the actresses or the performance; they are voyeuristically participating in the world. Specific light and video will instruct the audience where to sit and move, so they have a clear understanding of how to progress through this piece.”
Frequent Torn Space collaborator Brian Milbrand’s video will be projected onto fabric walls to offer a more layered experience, and Torn Space also joined forces with Flatsitter, a virtual reality company whose contribution will allow audience members to have 360-degree field of vision in two of the rooms. And stage design by Kristina Siegel also factored heavily into the process, says Shanahan.
“We’ll be doing this for much smaller groups, total thirty-five to forty per night, because of the nature of the experience,” says Shanahan. “It’ll be extremely interesting to have an even more intimate relationship between spectator and performance, and it’ll be in two ways—going in with a small group and having closer interaction with the performers, and even more intimate when you bring in the virtual reality world. That becomes one of the main themes of the project, the relationship between performer and audience.”
See Rhapsody November 4–27 at Torn Space (tornspacetheater.com, 812-5733).