Chatauqua Theater Company Presents GO WEST!,Tonight
This is the second Chautauqua Institution inter-arts original performance, the first being last year's hugely successful The Romeo & Juliet Project (conceived and directed by CTC Artistic Director Vivienne Benesch). These projects designed uniquely by Chautauqua to reflect how the beauty and complexity of arts from various fields can combine to strengthen, enhance and enrich a narrative story or performance. Go West! explores the American impulse to expand life, whether that be physical travel into unknown territory or an expansion of knowledge, wealth, influence, art, or experience.
"Chautauqua Theater is proud to be at the helm of another InterArts Collaboration," says Artistic Director Vivienne Benesch. "These projects exercise all that is possible here at Chautauqua Institution and create a platform by which we can actively participate in the future of the Arts in America and the development of audiences for the Arts. Go West! is about pioneering on all those levels."
In order to create an original, uniform piece that reflects the diversified experiences of all those who pioneered, or were affected by America's expansion into the west, Borba uses various musical and artistic styles that come to life on three stages - one main stage where the featured story will take place and two complementary "satellite" stages. The sub-stages will serve as homes to interludes or "pillars" that support the main narrative piece. These interludes are smaller pieces that contribute to painting a full-bodied, all-encompassing story line that accurately reflects the time period of the Louisiana Purchase and Manifest Destiny.
The show will be divided into two acts: "Chronology" and "Mythology." The two acts comprise eight chapters: "Manifest Destiny"; "Northwest Passage"; "The Oregon Trail"; "The Gold Rush"; "Cowboys & Indians"; "Environment & Industry"; "The Great Depression"; and "Land's End." The "pillars" will support the main chapters, anchoring the central larger story with symphonic, vocals and dance. Interludes will include campfire story-telling, traditional dance, a pas de deux, arias, poetry, solo piano, banjo fiddle and folk songs and diary readings.
Unlike the 2013 Chautauqua inter-arts production, The Romeo & Juliet Project, there was no primary text to base the script on, so Go West! is instead a compilation of various source material culled from diaries, political speeches, poetry and historical documents. Borba pulled from American classics, such as Grapes of Wrath and O Pioneers!, Thomas Jefferson and Lewis & Clark.
Also new in 2014, Chautauqua's visual arts program joins the cast, conveying the story as a living piece of scenery with moving projections on a sail cloth, which itself "dances" throughout the performance. To assemble the script for Go West! music ranges from Woody Guthrie to European influenced canons.
"There is an undeniable, strong ache underlying this drive to expand our horizons; an ache of ambition, hunger, a greater life - an ache of solitude," Borba said. "Our history is a mixture of the individual and the community, of unity and solitude, of both light and dark forces and events, and Go West! will explore the complexity of shades created by these polarities."
Borba's collaborators include Jay Lesenger, Chautauqua Opera Company general/artistic director, and Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, Charlotte Ballet and Chautauqua Dance artistic director, both of whom worked on The Romeo & Juliet Project. They are joined this year by Don Kimes, artistic director for Chautauqua's visual arts program. Music will range from homespun folk music to a string quintet to the full Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Timothy Muffitt. In addition, an original music and dance piece, choreographed by Mark Diamond, will be performed by Native American flutist Dan Hill of the Cayuga Tribe.
"This is Chautauqua firing on all cylinders," said Muffitt, music director of Chautauqua's Music School Festival Orchestra. "This is something that very much grew out of the Chautauqua artistic experience."
About Inter-Arts at Chautauqua Institution
In 2014, the 200th anniversary of the publication of the two-volume journal recounting the Lewis and Clark expedition, Chautauqua Institution will produce Go West!, an exploration of the American impulse to pioneer. Chautauqua's Inter-arts Collaboration Initiative began in 2013 with The Romeo and Juliet Project and will continue in 2015 with Orff's powerful Carmina Burana. Each project arises authentically from within the Institution's resident artistic programs in symphony, theater, opera, dance, music and visual arts, using the expressive power from Chautauqua's own artists.
The purpose of this effort is to illuminate for Chautauquans, for the media and for art lovers in general the extraordinary artistic capacity of Chautauqua Institution. We invest in art and in artists. We believe that art and artists are keys to a society in touch with the human condition, with a capacity for empathy and open to critical reflection. We believe that unlocking imagination is vital to human development and genuine communication and to global development and competition.
For more information about Go West! or about Chautauqua Institution's inter-arts program, visit our website.
About Chautauqua Institution
The pre-eminent expression of lifelong learning in the United States, Chautauqua Institution is a 140-year-old community on the shores of Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York state that comes alive each summer with a unique mix of fine and performing arts, lectures, interfaith worship and programs, and recreational activities. Over the course of nine weeks, more than 100,000 people visit Chautauqua and participate in programs, classes and community events for all ages - all within the beautiful setting of a historic lakeside village. For more information, please visit www.ciweb.org.