Fort, church, circus tent to stage events in Artswego series

As William Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage,” and SUNY Oswego’s Artswego Performing Arts Series has accepted the challenge, planning six dance, music and theatre events in sometimes-surprising places during its 2014-15 season.

Audiences will experience the lineup of touring artists and ensembles at venues as different as an Oswego historic site and a lakeside circus tent. The unusual approach is a creative response to the temporary closure of Waterman Theatre during the extensive renovation of Tyler Hall on the SUNY Oswego campus.

Third Rail Projects dancer“Faced with the building closure, we’ve planned a season that’s more open than ever,” said John Shaffer, director of arts programming. “We approached this year’s events as one long campus and community festival.”

Planning for the extraordinary year motivated a national and international search for performers who engage the public in nontraditional ways and spaces. Typical of that approach is Third Rail Projects from New York City.

Over the last year, Third Rail has performed its critically acclaimed “Then She Fell,” inspired by the Alice stories of Lewis Carroll, at a century-old institutional facility in Brooklyn. Designed as an immersive dance theatre experience, that show involves unusually close encounters between audience and artists.

Fort-ified theatre

Third Rail will create an entirely new on-site work at Oswego’s Fort Ontario.

The company’s artistic directors visited Oswego in the spring and selected the fort’s buildings and labyrinthine underground spaces as the location for their next work. A centerpiece of Artswego’s inventive season, “Anthem” will premiere with four performances on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 10 and 11, as a free, ticketed creative experience for the campus and community.

Other performances featured during the diverse Artswego season are:

Dafnis Prieto (Tuesday, Sept. 23): Winner of a MacArthur “genius” award and multiple Latin Grammy nominations, the Cuban-born jazz percussionist brings his Si o Si Quartet to Hewitt Union ballroom at SUNY Oswego.

Senegal St. Joseph Choir (Wednesday, Oct. 15): Direct from Dakar, Senegal, this ensemble of 15 singers and four traditional drummers represents a vibrant West African choral tradition. The program will be hosted at St. Mary’s Church on West Seventh Street in Oswego.

Voice (Wednesday, Feb. 18): On its second U.S. tour from England, this female vocal trio presents a program in SUNY Oswego’s Sheldon Hall especially for the Valentine’s season. Featured songs, new and old, explore the beauty, heartache and humor of love.

Becoming Harriet Tubman (Tuesday and Wednesday, March 3 and 4) [DATES CORRECTED on 8-13-14]: A hit at last summer’s Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, Natalie Daise brings the compelling story of the legendary slave-turned-abolitionist, Union spy and conductor of the Underground Railroad to Hewitt Union ballroom. Expect the unexpected there, as the ballroom transforms to host more of the performing arts events normally held at Waterman Theatre, Shaffer said.

Vague de Cirque (April 15 to 18): The nomadic spirit of the fairgrounds, the intimacy of a cabaret and deep traditions of the circus flavor the artistry and comedy of this world-traveled Québécois troupe. They bring their own heated Big Top to the grounds of SUNY Oswego’s Marano Campus Center.

Visit SUNY Oswego’s fine and performing arts website at for details and links to video previews of all Artswego presentations.

Tickets may be purchased through all SUNY Oswego box offices, online at or by calling 315-312-2141. Tickets for paid events cost $15 each ($20 for Vague de Cirque); $5 for college students and youths.

PHOTO CAPTION: Unique stage—Third Rail Projects, a dance-theatre troupe known for immersive performances in unlikely venues, will stage “Anthem” at Fort Ontario on Oct. 10 and 11 as part of SUNY Oswego’s 2014-15 Artswego Performing Arts Series. Other presentations in the series seize the opportunity to engage the Oswego community in adventurous ways, as college performances have relocated from Waterman Theatre during renovation of Tyler Hall.

(Posted: Aug 07, 2014)

Tags: voice, vague de cirque, senegal st. joseph choir, performing arts, dafnis prieto, becoming harriet tubman, artswego