The University of SC Theatre Program will open its 2019-2020 performance season with Stories of Dislocation, a premiere original play, September 26 – October 6 at the Center for Performance Experiment.
Show times are 8pm, September 26-28 and October 3-6, and 3pm, September 29. Admission is $5 (cash only), with tickets available only at the door. The Center for Performance Experiment is located at 718 Devine St., between Huger and Gadsden Streets, near the Colonial Life Arena. Patrons are advised to arrive early, as seating is limited.
Conceived and directed by Professor Robyn Hunt, with additional development by the ensemble of actors, Stories of Dislocation merges the physically expressive art of slow tempo performance with the unvarnished realism of documentary theatre to honor the varied experiences of modern-day immigrants. The piece offers two very different movements: one in which each actor recreates, in exact detail, an interview they have conducted with a real-life immigrant to the US, and the other in silence, with actors portraying characters travelling in slow tempo toward the unknown, toward the next thing, possibly even deliverance.
Hunt has focused a significant part of her teaching and artistic career on the art of slow tempo performance, a style pioneered by influential Japanese theatre artist Shogo Ohta, whose wordless, slow tempo plays were often centered on the experiences of migrants and refugees. She says that the immigration crisis of the last few years inspired her to apply Ohta’s method to an original work that honors modern-day immigrants’ stories.
“As an audience experiential opportunity, I just really love slow tempo,” says Hunt. “What happens to us, and how do our perceptions change when we slow down in this age of devices? We want to give the audience a chance to see these characters in close-up and from a distance, and, through bringing their own perceptions and thoughts about migrating people, be able to consider differently people dealing with profound dislocations.”
The spoken portions of the production, she says, are inspired by the work of documentary theatre-maker Anna Deveare Smith, writer of Fires in the Mirror, a Pulitzer Prize-winning play about the 1991 race riots in New York that was built from interviews with people directly involved with the riots.
“She went out and interviewed people, and then recreated absolutely every part of the delivery of their story,” explains Hunt. “The task for the actor becomes not to evolve another character, but to honor exactly how it was told – every breath, every correction, everything. You don’t send it up. There’s no comment. There’s only that person’s experience as it passes through the actor, who represents to the audience exactly how it came to them.”
The ensemble of actors in the production, all second-year graduate acting students, includes Sean Ardor, Tim Giles, Iuliia Khamidullina, Jennifer Moody-Sanchez, Gabe Reitemeier, Leslie Valdez, and Can Yasar.
“Ultimately, these stories have to be honored,” says Hunt. “They can’t be used for our own ends, to show what good mimics we are or how we can reproduce. We hope these stories can be preserved and saved in the receiving ear of the audience.”
For more information on Stories of Dislocation or the theatre program at the University of South Carolina, contact Kevin Bush by phone at 803-777-9353 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.