Every year the Visual and Performing Arts Department strives to wow and impress audiences with new and intriguing material. This spring the and professor of Dance, Cynthia Nazzaro, as well as Chair of the Visual and Performing Arts Department, as well as professor of Theater Arts, Martin Shell, hope to do just that with their debut of How to Survive the Grey Goo.
“It’s a real experiment,” Shell said with a smirk.
How to Survive the Grey Goo, a multifaceted performance that will premiere on April 4 and run through the 7th, will use many different elements and medias to evaluate the hyper-sensitive culture that we live in today.
According to their description of the show, “Actors, digital and computer artists, musicians, writers, dancers, videographers, designers, and communicators of all stripes collaborate in a live and digital, interactive, multimedia performance event.”
All four major disciplines will be represented in this concert, which is what makes it so unique and interesting.
“It might sound a little like a variety show, but it’s not like a talent show,” Shell explained. “We’re looking at the same thing but from different points of view.”
The creation of How to Survive the Grey Goo came from the InterArts class, which is a class that is offered here at Springfield College every four to six years. Anyone can take the class, but the majority of the people that do are majoring, or are heavily involved in dance, theater, music and digital art.
“It has multidisciplinary work,” said Shell. “The idea is that the students in the course are stretching themselves. They are working in their own art, but they are also collaborating or working in other art forms at the same time. It’s really collaborative work and original work.”
Between ideas formulated between Shell and Nazzaro, as well as the students themselves, the production will take a look at digital media and how it has positively and negatively affected our culture in these last few years.
The production also has this sense of connecting stories told through different art forms.
“We’re building a group,” Shell stated. “We’re learning how to talk to each other, and move with each other and share stories. I have a group of six that are working on mask characters. They’re a completely different style of performing and communicating, but they’re part of the same themes as the dancers who are choreographing something.”
While all 20 people in the production are physically working with different types of art forms, the same story is being told. This idea of one giant story being told in many different small ways was inspired by old Indian folk stories called Kalila and Dinma.
“They’re older than Aesop. They’re really interesting. They’re nested stories. Everything moves forward, but kind of in this somewhat complicated way. It is all part of a pattern,” described Shell.
While Kalila and Dinma helped inspire the storytelling part of the production, the students themselves are creating the content.
“It’s been kind of confusing,” junior dancer Mikaela Bradley said with a chuckle. “We’re trying to figure out what our roles are. Everyone has to have two different areas of study. I’m doing dance and videography. You kind of have to figure out what you’re doing and how it’s going to work into the concert. It’s been kind of hectic, but it’s coming together.”
While Bradley is a dancer, the InterArts class also calls for her to pick another area of study to focus on in the production. For the concert her videography skills will be put to the test as well.
“I’ve been interviewing people about their views of technology and if they think they’re too dependent on it or not enough dependent on it. I’ve videotaped all the interviews and then I’m going to see how I can work it into the concert,” explained Bradley.
With the production still about a month away, Shell, Nazzaro, and the 20 students continue to work on the concert, and each day they try and help to find its identity.
“I don’t really know what the story is yet,” freshman performer Melanie Ryder said with a smile.
“I think it’s going to be quite fun,” said Shell. “We certainly want to keep the audience entertained and intrigued. We’re also looking for innocent ways to make them feel like they are a part of it and a part of what is being explored.”
“There is a lot of creative play going on. Ultimately that spirit we want to have come out in the final production,” Nazzaro reiterated.
How to Survive the Grey Goo will run from April 4-7 in the Fuller Arts Center.