Compagnia De' Colombari Celebrates Walt Whitman's 200th Birthday

Compagnia De' Colombari Celebrates Walt Whitman's 200th Birthday

Compagnia de' Colombari, an international collective of performing artists founded and directed by Karin Coonrod, presents More Or Less I Am: a music-theater piece drawn entirely from Walt Whitman's revolutionary free verse long poem, "Song of Myself,"one of the original twelve pieces that comprise his 1855 collection Leaves of Grass. The next performance in this series, spanning multiple venues throughout the five boroughs, will take place on Sunday, May 26, 2019, 7:30 pm at Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn.

Compagnia de' Colombari will celebrate the bicentennial of the birth of America's most influential poet, Walt Whitman, with a revival of their acclaimed production More Or Less I Am, a music-theater piece drawn entirely from Walt Whitman's revolutionary free verse long poem, "Song of Myself." Conceived and directed by Karin Coonrod with original music by Colin Jacobsen, Kyle Sanna, Eric Jacobsen, and Alex Sopp, the piece involves fifteen performers of various ages, genders, and ethnicities (six instrumentalists and eight actor/singers, one child). More Or Less I Am includes passages spoken and sung in Spanish, among many other languages. Members of the audience will also be involved, as will local poet Jason Koo who has been asked to speak back to Walt in his own words. Featuring performers from the best of the theater, classical music, and jazz worlds, the piece lasts one hour.

"More Or Less I Am speaks-sings aloud and embodies the voice of Walt Whitman: to experience our individual greatness and our great commonality," said director Karin Coonrod. "Whitman takes the vision of America to a new level: a place we are still reaching for today. More Or Less I Am vitalizes Whitman's call to us, then and now, a declaration of interdependence, an awakening of the American consciousness."

Based in New York City, Compagnia de' Colombari was born in Orvieto, Italy, in 2004, where the company re-imagined the medieval mystery plays and performed them in the streets and piazzas of Orvieto. Having revitalized the tradition of theater during Orvieto's Corpus Christi Festival each spring, the company launched a parallel theatrical tradition in New York,Strangers and Other Angels.

Since 2008, the company has created and performed More or Less I Am (inspired by Whitman's "Songs of Myself") throughout New York City (2009-12); Everything That Rises Must Converge (from Flannery O'Connor's short story) in Rome and on tour in the United States (2009-2015); theworldisroundisroundisround (based on Gertrude Stein's story) performed at Arts, Letters, Numbers in upstate New York (2013); Andras Visky's Giulia, performed in a late medieval courtyard in Orvieto, Italy (2012); Monteverdi's Orfeo, performed in the Palazzo Simoncelli in Orvieto (2014); and Karin Coonrod's texts&beheadings/ElizabethR performed at The Folger Theatre in Washington, D.C., at BAM/Next Wave Festival in New York (2015), Center for the Arts at Wesleyan University (2017), and the Cathedral of St. John The Divine (2017). In partnership with Ca' Foscari University Venezia, the company had its world premiere of The Merchant In Venice in the Ghetto Nuovo (2016), in North American premier at Peak Performances at Montclair State University (2017), and subsequent performances at International Festival of Arts & Ideas (2018), and Dartmouth University (2018).

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