With social distancing still in effect, most artistic performances have had to be rescheduled, canceled or re-evaluated on a different platform. The creative solutions that most establishments have come up with are nothing short of impressive, and this weekend will showcase that ten-fold.
Renowned composer Kamala Sankaram and librettist Rob Handel have come together to offer the world its first-ever Zoom-opera this weekend titled “All decisions will be made by consensus.” The performance will be presented live via the streaming platform on Friday, April 24 at 1 p.m., Saturday, April 25 at 7 p.m., and Sunday, April 26 at 3 p.m. This ‘opera experiment’ part of HERE Arts Center will feature Metropolitan Opera and Broadway star Zachary James with a special guest appearance by ‘Orange is the New Black’ and ‘The Last OG’s’ Joel Marsh Garland, so viewers are really in for a treat with this virtual showcase.
“With the current health crisis and its related cancellations, artists have found themselves trying to find new ways to connect with their audiences,” said Sankaram in the release. “As always with new technologies, adapting traditional models can be an uneasy fit. So, I began this project with a question: what would happen if you created a piece specifically intended to be performed live over a conferencing platform like Zoom? The result is an experiment, an absurdist comedy, and [the] first answer to that question, hopefully leading to new ways to connect in this new world we’ve found ourselves in.”
The building of that connection required the artists involved to find an adaptable way to unite their own distinct styles. If opposites attract, then this show will be nothing short of beautiful. The cast joining in with Garland and James includes Paul An, Hai-Ting Chinn, Joan LaBarbara (winner of the 2016 Foundation for Contemporary Arts John Cage Award), Adrian Rosas (hailed by the New York Times as “a stalwart bass-baritone with a burnished voice”), and Sankaram herself. Sankaram is certainly up for the challenge as well having created ‘The Parksville Murders,’ the world’s first virtual reality opera.
The ensemble for the production of “All decisions will be made by consensus” will be directed by HERE Arts Center’s Founding Artistic Director Kristin Marting.
HERE Arts Center, a Top Ten Off-Off Broadway Theatre by Time Out New York has continued to be a force in the experimental arts world, producing different unique works involving theatre, dance, music, opera, puppetry, media, visuals, spoken word and performance art. Since its founding year over two decades ago in 1993, HERE and the artists it has supported have received 18 Obies, 2 Bessies, 5 Drama Desk Nominations, 2 Pulitzer Prizes, 4 Doris Duke Awards and 2 MacArthur Fellowships. With the current setting, it only makes sense that now is the optimal time for the organization to flex its creative muscles.
According to the release, the presentation is part of #stillHERE. In response to the current pandemic, the OBIE-winning HERE is also offering additional free online programming designed to uplift audiences during these challenging times. These programs include #stillHERE, a weekly Livestream featuring a HERE artist who will invite viewers to share in the creation of new work; [email protected], a weekly watch party that streams full-length productions previously presented at HERE; and #COVIDEO, a sequential, community-built work of video art that is led by HERE artists and staff that the public is invited to participate in.
Those interested in viewing the opera this weekend can join directly through a special Zoom link TBA. Additionally, the opera will be streamed to HERE’s Facebook page on Friday, April 24 at facebook.com/hereartscenter, other details can be found through facebook.com/events.