October 22, 2012

Artmosphere Returns!

Back in September of 2008, I was involved in a theatrical piece called "Artmosphere" that had a 4-night stand at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts at C. W. Post College. The impetus for the show was to blend different disciplines of art together into one cohesive performance (dance, music, poetry, theater, visual arts, lighting, sound, etc.). The show quickly became somewhat of a phenomenon and people were genuinely moved by it. The performances every night took on a rare, magical quality that was very apparent to the audience. We had the most amazing cast and crew. It was definitely one of the funnest times that I've ever had on a stage and I was quite crestfallen when the show's run was over and I had to walk away from it all. Toward the end, I pitched to the group a plot line for an "Artmosphere II" and everyone was receptive, though, sadly, it never materialized. Aside from composing some of the music and all of the spoken parts, my role in the show was to play the poetic host and guide -- Cicerone. He was a great character and he had the coolest wardrobe.

One evening, we were running through a full dress rehearsal of the show. At one point, I was on the stage doing a scene and I knew that the dancers were off on the sides in the middle of a costume change. I finished my part and exited stage left. As I pushed my way through the plush curtains, I discovered one of the female dancers out of costume, mostly nude. Although she neither raised her eyes to look at me nor darted to cover herself, I knew that she was aware of my presence; I, out of respect, didn’t allow my vision to linger on her. I was tempted to utter something apologetic, but I didn't want to embarrass her by forcing her to acknowledge the fact that I had witnessed her indisposed. Instead, I opted for a hopefully more empathetic approach and stripped off my own outfit to change in front of her. I undressed slowly and deliberately, trying to showcase my comfort level in this unusual situation. I felt a sigh of relief pervading the air around us. As we stood there in silence, my inner monologue was saying something like:

As long as there is trust between us and we are walking the same path toward a common goal, we need never conceal our vulnerability.

After the rehearsal, this same dancer and I were joking and smiling together comfortably and I felt like I had done the right thing by putting myself in her shoes. We didn't speak about those backstage moments and, as far as I was concerned, it was something that never needed to be addressed.

Anyway, on the night of Sunday, October 14 of this year, I once again went out to the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts to take part in the closing ceremony of the Long Island Fringe Festival 2012. The evening was booked as "Artmosphere Returns." It was to feature individual performances by some of the original members of the production and then a showing of the Artmosphere movie that was made 4 years ago. On hand for the festivities were the lovely ladies of Immersion Dance Company, classical pianist and composer Jane Leslie, the guys from the Artmosphere Band (Chris Benvegna, Charlie Held, and Matt Flood, and directors Debby Kasimakis and Bob Goida. There was a lot of reminiscing going on and even some talk of bringing the show back to the stage someday. That is something I would love to see.

Mostly, It felt really good to be on the stage at Tilles Center again. It is one of my favorite places to perform and I have many fond memories of it. It was a very inspiring evening. Love & light...

"The Lord bless thee, and keep thee:
The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: 
The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace."

~Numbers 6:24-26