Producing art and specifically theatrical art in the Age of Covid is a harrowing experience. Performance based art typically puts performers on a stage interacting with one another in front of a large group of audience members all sitting close to each with EVERYONE breathing, sneezing, gasping, wheezing, belching and farting on each other in a limited space with poor air circulation.
Quite similar to a flight on an airplane or any Saturday night at The Eagle.
Despite the advent of vaccinations, the ever mutating world of Covid is creating a lot of complications for performing artist companies….how do you keep artists and audiences as safe as possible? Performing outdoors is obviously the better option but while that’s a relatively comfortable experience in the balmy days of summer, the chill of autumn and winter is close at hand. It’s time to think about indoor art experiences.
The clever folks at Washington Ensemble Theatre, aka “WET”, have been working on this problem for awhile. They coped during the full shut down months of the pandemic from 2020 through the spring of 2021 by regrouping and then deciding to present their latest work via film. Their collaboration with dancer/performance artist Cherdonna Shinatra/Jody Kuehner resulted in “The Doll Pit”, a filmed piece of very oddly wonderful theater.
For September of 2021, the WET company is going for a different kind of theatrical experience with amber, a “generative sensory installation” piece collaborating with a pair of talented dancer/choreographer/performance artists, Markeith Wiley and dani tirrell. amber (lower case is deliberate) is a 30 minute multi-media experience utilizing lights and sound as small groups make their way through a series of immersive spaces exploring “the shadows of the discor era”.
From the press release:
“Is it too on-the-nose to say that The Ensemble is thrilled to be back presenting audiences with an in-person experience?”asked WET’s artistic director Maggie L. Rogers. “In usual WET fashion, we’re keeping our designers and our audiences on their toes and offering our first ever sensory installation. In a series of firsts (including a pandemic season and producing a feature length film), why not do something else we’ve never done before?”
This is the first in-person presentation produced by WET during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since March 2020, The Ensemble embraced the opportunity of a collective pause to shift towards producing accessible, digital content. In October 2020, WET produced Vote Art Vote, a collection of newly conceived performances from eleven Seattle artists in response to the 2020 election season directed by Raja Feather Kelly and co-curated by dani tirrell. Then, in May 2021, WET artistic director Maggie L. Rogers helmed WET’s first feature length film The Doll Pit starring Cherdonna Shinatra in a solo dance piece.
Rogers continues, “With amber, Markeith Wiley and dani tirrell are at the helm to create an installation that explores the disco era. They are two of Seattle’s most ground-breaking choreographers and artists, and past collaborators of The Ensemble. Using their multi-disciplinary backgrounds, they are shining a light on the silent truths of the 70s. Beyond the neon lights, iconic music, and dance floors, issues including homophobia, racism, and a rising AIDS crisis cast dark shadows on this transformative decade. The title amber was chosen by Markeith and dani to reflect the energy, spiritual confidence, and safety we hope to create in this space as we navigate the full story of this time period.”
“Utilizing WET’s signature technical design talent in new ways, we’re excited to offer audiences an opportunity to let go of their current day-to-day and experience a WET production in a whole new way. Lights and sounds will guide small groups through a series of rooms in an intimate, sensory-forward immersive environment. And then, get your chance to dance on a WET stage (but don’t slip and fall!) as we celebrate the unforgettable music of the era. As we continue to keep COVID protocols and safety measures in place, we are more than ready to welcome audiences back into 12th Ave Arts for something we know will be weird, profound, and deeply human.”
amber will be open to audiences September 10 – 27, 2021 at 12th Avenue Arts (1620 12th Avenue in Capitol Hill). Tickets are on sale now at www.washingtonensemble.org.
- Thursdays 1-5, 6-10pm
- Fridays 1-5, 6-10 pm
- Saturdays 1-5, 6-10 pm
- Sundays 1-5 pm
- Mondays 4-8 pm
Audience size is limited to groups of 10 people for a 30 minute experience.
Masks are required for the duration of the experience. Further information about COVID safety protocols can be found on our website.
12th Avenue Arts (1620 12th Avenue in Capitol Hill)
Please visit www.washingtonensemble.org to purchase tickets. $5-25. Ticketing is timed for entry and online advance purchase is recommended.