Traditional meets avant-garde and the body meets fluxus art in the Granada Artists-in-Residence Program.
The program allows professional theater artists to work closely with UC Davis students, faculty and the larger Davis community each academic quarter to collaborate and showcase a production featuring the artists’ style and forte.
For more than 20 years, the Granada program – co-founded by UC Davis Professor Dan Snyder and former British director Sir Denis Forman – has brought choreographers, directors, playwrights and filmmakers to Wright Hall and exhibited many artistic pioneers such as Gordon McDougall, Frank Hauser, William Gaskill and Anabelle Arden.
“I’ve heard about the Granada artists before I even came here and I knew that this program brought prominent artists to Davis,” said UC Davis graduate student John Zibell, who is also a theatre director, actor and award-winning filmmaker.
In this fall 2009-2010 season, performance artists Sara Shelton Mann and Guillermo-Gómez-Peña, will stage both dance and performance art in Tribes: the unified field and Corpo Ilicito: The Post Post-Human Society 6.9.
In a two-part performance, the production will open from Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. in the Main Theatre and Sunday at 2 p.m. For students, tickets can be purchased for $11 in advance or $13 at the door.
Mann, a choreographer and touring artist, explores the connection between people through non-verbal and verbal language of different cultures in Tribes: the unified field.
“I’m very interested in the conversations between two people and their different belief systems as well as cultures,” Mann said. “The group becomes the tribe as I aim to create community and conversation that will be put on stage.”
Mann’s efforts to transform dance’s protean resistance in becoming a fixed object are seen in the exploration of movement and the feedback of the human body.
“My material really comes from being with the people and giving them skills so they can articulate my language. It is a collaboration,” Mann said.
In performance art, which explores time, space and the human body in relation to the audience and other fellow artists, different creative mediums are applied to the human body to create a living art piece on stage.
Gómez-Peña, performance artist and director of the art collective La Pocha Nostra in San Francisco, takes Corpo Ilicito: The Post-Human Society 6.9 into a beautiful yet stark look into the past and future of society by examining the current state of our culture.
“I’m just trying to understand the times we are living in, the despair we’re experiencing as a society and a sense of hope and I want to do it in dialogue through a group of young artists,” Gómez-Peña said. “What is most political about this project is the possibility of artists from different departments working together in the making of an artwork. It is a form of radical democracy.”
The artists’ world created on-stage allows audiences to look deeper into the messages and images conveyed through the body. Gómez-Peña hopes the audience will ultimately be moved and transformed.
“Essentially, I create total environments where the audience has to be active and often is invited to interact with the performances,” Gómez-Peña said. “[These] are very unconventional performances.”
Utilizing the Main Theater in a unique way, the main stage will be rearranged for the second half so audience members can interact, journey and connect with the performers on the same level.
“The audience can get as close to the performers as they want or far away as they wish and at any moment,” Gómez-Peña said. “It is a kind of exercise [of] the human body as a side for artistic reinvention and activism and prognosis. The images have been developed collectively through my residency.”
Creativity redefined and the human body transformed, both productions are expected to widen the spectrum of art.
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit mondaviarts.org.
KAREN SONG can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.