'An American Rendition' blends dance, reality TV, torture

dancersJane Comfort and Company will showcase a new dance and multimedia piece, “An American Rendition,” at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 18, to start the Artswego Performing Arts Series season.

The staging in Tyler Hall’s Waterman Theatre will be the first public performance of the piece, which explores how society uses reality shows to distract itself from disturbing realities like war and torture, said Mary Avrakotos, Artswego coordinator.

“It will be a very fresh piece,” Avrakotos said. “In addition to the performance, Comfort will do a residency raising topics including the creative process and using the arts as activism.”

Components of the production include an American citizen kidnapped, interrogated and tortured in a secret prison; a troupe of singers and dancers using a remote control to channel surf from the prisoner’s fear to satirical send-ups of shows like “Fear Factor”; projected X-ray images by artist Steve Miller on the domestication of violence; and a score by composer Joan la Barbara sung live.

Chicago Sun-Times dance critic Hedy Weiss describes Comfort as “a highly skilled storyteller capable of weaving strange, compelling narratives and creating characters with sharply conflicting emotions.” Comfort specializes in issues-oriented work integrating text and movement, working in multidisciplinary dance since the 1970s.

Comfort’s residency will include a lecture-demonstration titled “Torture and ‘American Idol’” during SUNY Oswego’s College Hour at 12:45 Sept. 18 in Waterman Theatre. She will discuss the topics that inspired “An American Rendition,” and the company will perform excerpts of the piece during the admission-free session.

“The Arts as Provoker,” a workshop at 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 16, will feature Comfort discussing how the arts can serve as a catalyst to see and show stark realities people may not otherwise accept, Avrakotos said.

Students in this workshop will create 3-D computer shorts combining images, text and voice on a political or social issue. Participants in the workshop will receive free tickets to the full-length performance. To register for the workshop, contact Kelly Roe at roe@oswego.edu or 312-2850.

Tickets for the full-length performance of “An American Rendition” cost $15 (12 for senior citizens or children, $7 for SUNY Oswego).

For more information or to make reservations, contact Tyler box office at 312-2141 or tickets@oswego.edu, or visit www.oswego.edu/arts.

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(Posted: Sep 02, 2007)