Overtone Industries Presents New Contemporary Opera 'Songs & Dances of Imaginary Lands' 7/8-7/18

By: Jul. 03, 2010
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After seven years in development, Emmy and Dramalogue award-winning Overtone Industries is set to launch their site-specific theatricale, Songs and Dances of Imaginary Lands, with two weekends of performances opening Thursday, July 8, 2010. Billed as a contemporary opera, the large-scale, genre-bending production integrates an astounding array of innovative art installation, dance, voice, live and recorded music, projected video, costuming, community participation, and theater.

Songs and Dances of Imaginary Lands was developed and cultivated by Director O-Lan Jones in an extensive guided collaboration that involves twenty one librettists, eleven composers, Costume and Scenic Designer Snezana Petrovic, Musical Director David O, Instrument Inventor Bart Hopkin, Choreographer Nina Winthrop, twenty performers, a nine-piece live orchestra, dozens of crew members, scores of community volunteers, and many others.

The interdisciplinary production will run from Thursday, July 8 to Sunday, July 18, 2010 with five weekly performances (Thursdays through Sundays, 8:00 p.m. nightly with 2:00 p.m. matinees on Sundays). Additional preview performances will run the week prior, from Thursday, July 1 to Sunday, July 4, 2010 (matinee only on July 4). Ticket prices range from $15 - $50 and can be purchased via Overtone's site at www.overtoneindustries.org/sdtickets.php. Performances are suitable for mature teen and adult audiences. Shows will be held in a vacant 25,000-square foot car dealership that is being temporarily transformed into a performance space at 8810 Washington Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232. Parking lot on site.

The Story of Songs & Dances-
Songs and Dances of Imaginary Lands is a contemporary opera that follows Tom and Sue, a couple from different class backgrounds, who have lost their identities. The couple reclaims their stories by visiting imaginary lands that embody the pivotal experiences of their lives. They discover themselves anew through the songs, dances, pledges of allegiance, and rituals indigenous to those turning points. The fast-paced kaleidoscope of events range in tone from comic to deeply sorrowful. Songs and Dances of Imaginary Lands is an allegory where the various elements - the sets, costumes, characters, music, audience participation, and modes of collaboration across the production - create the world of challenges and gifts presented by life, love, and relationships.

The Art of Songs & Dances-
Under the direction of Costume and Scenic Designer Snezana Petrovic, the Company has transformed a vacant Culver City car dealership into a surreal performance space featuring colorful, site-specific art installations of the production's titular imaginary lands, each dramatically different from one another. An extensive community arts project brought together local artists and volunteers to create textures, props, and various aspects of the sets and costumes for the production. These eclectic sets and costumes were created primarily from reclaimed and recycled materials that were donated and transformed through community participation. The design team, with the aid of a small army of volunteers, spindled newspaper and knitted plastic bags into art - essentially turning trash into gold.

"There is something about using simple materials that allows the artistic idea to shine through even more," says Director O-Lan Jones.

Inventor Gregg Emmel was commissioned to create special "audience transportation" in the form of trains.  Each scene of the production takes place on a separate stage in the performance space requiring the audience to shuffle from set to set to see the action. Some audience members will have to drag their chairs around, while others will be transported in style via train (either luxury or standard) - the different modes of transportation are assigned according to the price of their ticket (a class hierarchy system!).  Some audience members will be upgraded each night based on a lottery system.

The Music of Songs & Dances-
Twenty one librettists and eleven composers have contributed original words and music specifically written for Songs and Dances of Imaginary Lands that collectively create an odyssey.  The compositions span a range of musical styles from avant-garde classical to Eastern Bloc men's choir, from island to rock.  Each captures the character of the imaginary land, or life moment, that it represents.

Twenty eight songs are included in the production, incorporating electronic, traditional acoustic, and invented instruments in the unhomogenized array of recorded and live music performed by an orchestra under the direction of award-winning composer David O.  The live nine-piece orchestra features keyboards, violin, cello, upright and electric bass, electric and acoustic guitar, drums, percussion, clarinet, baritone sax, and instruments made by Bart Hopkin from found materials (slide whistle, lyre, hurdy gurdy, metal signaler, k-scraper, stone pour, +). 


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