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'The Farallonites' Has Been Rescheduled at Fort Mason

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'The Farallonites' Has Been Rescheduled at Fort Mason

Berkeley-based Dana Lawton Dances has rescheduled its evening-length performance, The Farallonites, at The Cowell Theater at Fort Mason the weekend of April 24-26 to November 5-7. This multi-disciplinary enterprise will feature original musical scores, ambient sounds, spoken word, and projections of original art work not only as a means of underscoring and supporting what happens onstage, but to palpably transport the audience to a different place and time.

A major part of the piece is about the dancers exploring the harsh physical conditions, repetitive labor, and isolation the families who lived on the Farallons, and took care of the Lighthouse, endured. "Tasks such as collecting water and the arduous journey on a daily basis to climb the steep hill in order to get to the lighthouse will define the dance," says Lawton. "Not to mention the labor involved with carrying heavy whale oil to keep the lamp itself lit, all while dealing with the elements, the water, the waves, birds and stars. Also the toll taken on their emotions by the isolation, the duty, and the boredom will come into play."

Lawton describes herself as "obsessed" with the Farallons and the lives that those who chose to live there led - and who in a way have become a muse. "What drew them to such inhospitable place as the Farallons? I think it was about practicality," she says. "It was a job and a chance to have stability when the Bay Area was going crazy with the gold rush. And perhaps some thought of it as a higher duty to serve others as a way of meeting a need, but in Victorian times things were not very romanticized so there's a good chance that it may well have been a 'just what people do' situation, all of which I find to be very compelling tells about tenacity, resilience and human nature."

"We're disappointed to postpone, but are happy to have secured the new dates," says Lawton. "Mandated shelter-in-place is not unlike being on an island. You can see the coast 27 miles out but cannot visit. Only dreaming of the day you will set foot on land, hug those you missed and love, and have the freedom to roam. Or in our case, perform. The isolation we're experiencing along with the settling into a routine we did not ask for or design will ultimately deepen the piece. It now feels more personal than ever."

Ultimately The Farallonites is about the lighthouse, but perhaps more importantly, is about the island itself, surrounded by fog, water, sharks, diving birds, close quarters, and its other worldly landscape.

In addition, the Cowell Theater lobby will be transformed into a gallery exhibit of both historic and interpretive artifacts, with photographs, poetry, news clippings, and visual art enabling audiences to deepen their understanding of this fascinating aspect of San Francisco history and lore.

Collaborators include set designer Jon Altemus who has visited the island as part of his research and poet Jennifer Kulbeck whose extensive research resulted in her poems that have become a primary creative source for the production.

Production Credits:
Choreography: Dana Lawton
Poetry: Jennifer Kulbeck
Lighting Design: Linda Baumgardner
Composers: Thomas Edler and Jon Lawton
Visual Artist & Exhibit Designer: Jon Altemus

Dancers: Olutola Afolayan, Michael Armstrong, Leah Curran, Garth Grimball, Colin McDowell, Robin Nasatir, Vera Schwegler, Jennifer Smith, and Kara Townsend, Lia St. Pierre

Music featured in The Farallonites is taken from the Library of Congress and will feature the most popular sheet music from the late 1850's (nothing was recorded at that time), which is being recomposed for the dance. Inspiration for the costumes comes from newspaper photographs of the era.

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