'Astro-rama' production explores alien contact

UFO?Visitors to “Astro-rama,” a free outdoor performance at SUNY Oswego, may be watching the skies as well as the production.

Starting at 8 p.m. Oct. 2 to Oct. 5 (weather permitting) outside the Campus Center, the Squonk Opera production concerns a UFO crash and responses to apparently alien intelligence. The performance and installation piece are sponsored by Artswego and the Student Association Programming Board at SUNY Oswego.

“Music is the universal language, and this intergalactic call and response will show the indomitable human spirit,” said Steve O’Hearn, co-artistic director of Squonk Opera with Jackie Dempsey. 

“To help them send their message to the cosmos, the Squonkers will build a 40’ radio telescope dish mounted to scaffold towers, tuned to the galactic frequency of B-flat,” the troupe notes on its Web site, www.squonkopera.org. “Rising in scissor lift platforms and cherry pickers, they will compose a proud message from our species, power up and transmit.”

Members of Squonk Opera, students and volunteers will start constructing the installation at the end of September.

Squonk Opera’s most recent collaboration with the college was the 2007 show “Lost in a Viral Paradise,” a satirical multimedia world-premiere production written by Oswego art, music and theatre students.

Ben Brantley of the New York Times has called Squonk Opera “ingenious, hypnotic, hallucinatory,” while USA Today has termed them “surreal and poetic.” Dempsey and O’Hearn founded the company in 1992 to create theatre from primarily sound and unique stages.

Squonk Opera has since produced eight original shows and performed in more than 200 venues across the United States. Since 2003, they have toured internationally to such places as Scotland, Belgium, Germany and South Korea.

Support for “Astro-rama” comes from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, as well as a grant from Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour, a program developed and funded by the Heinz Endowments; the William Penn Foundation; the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency; the Pew Charitable Trusts; and administered by the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation.

For more information or to check how weather may affect the performance on the day of a specific show, visit www.oswego.edu/arts.

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PHOTO CAPTION: Crash site?—Agent Meyers, played by SUNY Oswego junior theatre major Jeremy Waterman, tries to rebuff a photographer’s attempt to take a picture of what looks like a crashed UFO at a mock news conference promoting Squonk Opera’s upcoming “Astro-rama” production at the college. A free outdoors performance-art piece, “Astro-rama” will start at 8 p.m. Oct. 2 to 5 on campus.

(Posted: Sep 17, 2008)

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