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  • For Immediate Release: March 26, 2010

    Overtone Industries Presents
    A New Contemporary Opera
    Songs and Dances of Imaginary Lands
    With Performances in a Vacant Culver City Car Dealership
    Thursday, July 8 – Sunday, July 18, 2010

    ~With Preview Performances Thursday, July 1 – Sunday, July 4, 2010~

    LOS ANGELES, CA – After seven years in development, non-profit organization Overtone Industries is set to launch their site-specific theatricale Songs and Dances of Imaginary Lands, with two weeks of performances opening Thursday, July 8, 2010.  Billed as a contemporary opera, the genre-bending production integrates art installation, dance, voice, live and recorded music, projected video, costuming, community participation, and theater.   Songs and Dances of Imaginary Lands was conceptualized by Director O-Lan Jones in an extensive collaboration that involves twenty one librettists, eleven composers, Costume and Scenic Designer Snezana Petrovic, Musical Director David O, and many others. The performances will run from Thursday, July 8 to Sunday, July 18, 2010 with five weekly performances (Thursdays through Sundays, 8:00 pm nightly with 2:00 pm matinees on Sundays).  Additional preview performances will run the week prior, from Thursday, July 1 to Sunday, July 4, 2010 (matinee only on July 4).   Ticket prices will range from $25 to $65 and go on sale in May on Overtone’s site at  www.overtoneindustries.org.   Shows will be held in a vacant 25,000 square foot car dealership that is being temporarily transformed into a performance space at 8840 Washington Street, Culver City, CA 90232.  Parking lot on site.

    Songs and Dances of Imaginary Lands takes the audience on a journey with working class Tom and aristocratic Sue, who have lost their identities.  The couple reclaims their story by means of a device that allows them to inhabit the “lands” that hold the pivotal experiences of their lives embodied in songs, dances, pledges of allegiance, and rituals indigenous to those turning points. The fast-paced kaleidoscope of events range in tone from comic to deeply sorrowful.  Songs and Dances of Imaginary Lands is an allegory where the various elements — the sets, costumes, characters, music, audience participation, and modes of collaboration across the production — create the world of challenges presented by life, love, and relationships.  This pastiche of seemingly incongruous elements, with a postmodern aesthetic that is simultaneously complex and accessible, comes together in one organic event.  Just like life!

    “The indelible moments that make up the through-line of a life come alive in the form of twenty one imaginary lands that embody the terrain of this couple’s experience,” explains O-Lan Jones, adding, “We’re creating a journey that goes beyond a purely mental narrative of a life story to connect with the way memory is held in the body and feelings; memory at its most primitive that touches upon the mythic.”

    Auditions for the production are being held in mid-April in Culver City.  Overtone Industries is currently accepting submissions; details are available at www.overtoneindustries.org.

    Under the direction of Costume and Scenic Designer Snezana Petrovic, the Company is transforming a vacant Culver City car dealership into a surreal performance space featuring site-specific art installations of the production’s titular imaginary lands, each dramatically different from one another.  An extensive community arts project, bringing together local artists and volunteers in a series of free public workshops, is set to begin in May in order to create textures, props, and some aspects of the sets and costumes for the production.  These sets and costumes will be created primarily from recycled materials that have been donated and transformed through community participation. Culver City High School’s Academy of Visual and Performing Arts (AVPA) is among the organizations that have agreed to participate in the ambitious undertaking.  Local residents, service organizations, nonprofit groups, and senior centers are expected to take part as well.  Additional details on the workshops will be posted online soon.

    “The community and collaboration aspects of the production are key to the philosophy of the project,” says Jones, adding, “If I had to boil everything down to one word, I’d have to go with ‘connection.’  It’s all about connecting.”

    Twenty one librettists and eleven composers have contributed original words and music specifically written for Songs and Dances of Imaginary Lands that collectively create an odyssey.  The challenging compositions span a range of musical styles from avant-guarde classical to choral, from island to rock, with each capturing the character of the imaginary land, or life moment, that it represents.  Electronic, traditional acoustic, and invented instruments are all incorporated in the unhomogenized array of recorded and live music performed by an eight-piece orchestra under the direction of award winning composer David O.

    Performances are suitable for mature teen and adult audiences.

    Overtone Industries has received support from The Ahmanson Foundation, The Annenberg Foundation, Los Angeles County Arts Commission, Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, and The National Endowment for the Arts.  Additionally, real estate developer Joseph Miller, owner and president of The Runyon Group, donated the use of the vacant Culver City car dealership for the production. Miller provided the space to Overtone Industries so that it could be used creatively, in a way that would benefit the community, instead of standing vacant.

    “There are some forward thinking owners of vacant property that recognize that they have a tremendous opportunity to make innovative community projects possible by providing small organizations and creative individuals free or low-cost short-term access to these empty buildings,” says Jones, “This project wouldn’t have been economically feasible for us without the generosity of someone like Joseph Miller.”

    Coming to a Ghost-Box Near You!
    Overtone Industries has plans to tour the production after the Culver City run, hoping to utilize other vacant commercial properties as site-specific performance spaces in cities across the US and beyond.

    O-Lan Jones, Director and Co-Choreographer
    O-Lan Jones is an award-winning actress, composer, sound designer, and writer. Her work as an actress, originating female roles in plays by Sam Shepard, Beth Henley, Murray Mednick, and John Steppling, among others, has made her something of a cultural icon.

    Named for the character in Pearl Buck’s “The Good Earth,” Jones was raised by a free-spirited mother in various ghettos across America (Los Angeles, Chicago, Austin, New York) with stops in London and the jungles of the Yucatan where they lived in a hut in a village of 80 Mayan Indians. She began her professional acting career at 16 in New York’s off-off Broadway scene in the late ’60s and early ’70s. When she was 19, she married playwright Sam Shepard with whom she has a son. Shepard and Jones divorced in 1983.

    Of the more than 80 plays she has acted in, only two have been performed prior to her involvement in them — part of her lot in life is as an accomplice to new/experimental projects.  Since moving to Los Angeles in 1990, she has had a broad range of roles in film and television. In features, she has worked with directors Tim Burton, Jonathan Demme, Ivan Reitman, Paul Schraeder, John Schlesinger, Oliver Stone, Peter Weir, and Paul Bartel who directed Shelf Life, a movie she wrote and starred in.

    She is perhaps best known for playing Esmeralda, the reclusive Christian organist in Edward Scissorhands, and numerous waitress roles (Seinfeld, Shoot the Moon, Miracle Mile, Natural Born Killers, and The Truman Show). A repeat member of Burton’s ensemble casts, she also played hick trailer-dwelling mama Sue Ann Norris in Mars Attacks! Television credits also include Lonesome Dove and The X-Files; and she was a series regular on CBS’s Harts of the West.

    She has composed three short operas; five musicals; created original music, songs, and sound designs for more than 30 theatrical productions; and has scored two short films.  She was also the musical director and arranger of Joel Lipman’s rock-‘n’-roll extravaganza Celebration of the Lizard, which features 49 Doors songs.  Jones is also the Founder and Artistic Director of Overtone Industries, which the LA Times calls “… audaciously experimental entertainment.”

    David O, Musical Director
    David O is an award-winning composer, performer, and musical director.  His work has been featured at Walt Disney Concert Hall, The Kennedy Center, The Mark Taper Forum, and the Hollywood Bowl, as well as other venues in Los Angeles and around the world.  His choral composition, A Map of Los Angeles, was commissioned by the LA Master Chorale with performances at Walt Disney Concert Hall in 2008 and 2009.  Thousands of Los Angeles children and their parents know David as “The Professor” for his six years of performances with Summersounds at the Hollywood Bowl, produced by the Los Angeles Philharmonic.  His original musicals include The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip and The Legend of Alex, both commissioned by Center Theatre Group’s P.L.A.Y. Program, and Imagine, commissioned by South Coast Repertory Theater. The Very Persistent Gappers of  Frip was performed as part of the inaugural season of the Kirk Douglas Theater.

    David is the musical director, arranger, and co-composer for Disney Creative Entertainment’s new production, Toy Story: The Musical, which will open at Disney California Adventure in 2011.  Some of David’s most unique work includes non-traditional theater pieces for which he served as both musical director and composer.  Most notably, he created an entirely a capella score for Hippolytos, a new translation of Euripides’ tragedy commissioned to inaugurate the Fleischman Theater at the newly-refurbished Getty Villa in Malibu.  In addition, David was the composer, musical director, and on-stage pianist/percussionist for A Noise Within’s production of Ubu Roi, for which he received the 2006 Ovation Award for Sound Design in a Large Theater.

    David has musically directed countless musical theater productions in the Los Angeles area, including the world premiere of 13, the new musical by Jason Robert Brown.  He has also served as musical director for the West Coast premieres of Michael John LaChiusa’s The Wild Party and Little Fish.  Other notable productions as Musical Director include The Last 5 Years (Pasadena Playhouse), The Shaggs: Philosophy of the World (Inside the Ford), and Divorce: the Musical (Hudson Mainstage).

    Snezana Petrovic, Costume and Scenic Designer
    A freelance designer for 230 theatrical productions, 22 television series, and eight feature films, Snezana Petrovic is a pioneer in set design using computer-aided technology and was the first art director to design sets on the FLAIR computer in her native Yugoslavia. In the US, she was the first graduate student in theater design to earn an interactive MFA (from UC Irvine), submitting her thesis on CD-ROM. She has served as resident designer at the Redlands Theater Festival for 15 seasons, and taught theater design and visual arts at the university level for 14 years. She was the recipient of the award in production design at the International Film Festival in Pula as well as six national awards for theater set and costume design in her native Yugoslavia.

    Petrovic’s paintings, video, and installation works have been exhibited both nationally and internationally in museums and galleries in Los Angeles, Amsterdam, Belgrade, and Prague. She has exhibited in 34 group exhibitions and had eight solo exhibitions. Currently she is serving as the Fine Arts Department Chair and Professor of Arts at Crafton Hills College.

    Nataki Garrett, Assistant Director
    Nataki Garrett is the Co-Head of Undergraduate Acting at CalArts School of Theater and the Co-Artistic Director of Blank-The-Dog Productions, a Los Angeles-based ensemble theater company. Currently she is co-writing and directing Carolyn Bryant – about the white woman for whom the 14 year old Emmit Till was brutally murdered in 1955. Garrett  recently directed the world premiere of the opera Sucktion (libretto by Doug Kearney, composed by Anne Lebaron) which premiered at the REDCAT NOW FEST in 2008. She has worked as a director and producer in Los Angeles, Atlanta, New York, Dartmouth in New Hampshire, Bellagio in Italy, Edinburgh, and in East Africa, and beyond. She is a recipient of the NEA/TCG Career Development Program, 2005-2007.

    Nina Winthrop, Co-Choreographer
    Nina Winthrop formed her company, Nina Winthrop and Dancers, in 1991 and her work has been presented at numerous venues including Brooklyn Academy of Music, Danspace Project, Joyce SoHo, The Flea Theater and Movement Research at The Judson Church. She was awarded a Bessie Schönberg Choreographers’ Residency at The Yard in 2004, a Dancenow/NYC’s Silo Artist Residency in 2005, and participated in the Schönberg Choreographers Lab at DTW in 2005. Winthrop is the curator of the monthly performance and discussion series “Dance Conversations @ The Flea” and is on the board of Danspace Project and New Dance Alliance. She has danced with Wendy Perron, Susan Rethorst, Yoshiko Chuma, Sally Silvers, and Kei Takei. She studied with Erick Hawkins, Merce Cunningham, and Deborah Hay.

    Producer
    Scott Cargle for Overtone Industries

    Production Manager
    Sara Adelman

    Librettists
    Sissy Boyd, Joe Chaikin, Chiwan Choi, Kathleen Cramer,  Erik Ehn, Gilbert Girion, Deb Gwinn, Julie Hébert, O-Lan Jones, Merle Kessler, Quincy Long, Lynn Manning, Ruth Margraff, Leon Martell, Marlane Meyer, Ken Roht, Octavio Solis, John Steppling, Caridad Svich, Sharon Yablon, and Guy Zimmerman.

    Composers
    John Ballinger, J. Raoul Brody, Eric Culver, Beth Custer, Jeff Fairbanks, Bart Hopkin, O-Lan Jones, Penka Kouneva, Richard Mariott, David O, and George Sarah.

    Overtone Industries
    Overtone Industries cultivates new talent for music theater by providing opportunities for composers, writers, and performers to collaborate in the creation of new musical works. By drawing on artists that spring from the diverse community, Overtone productions speak to and attract a wide-ranging spectrum of people. Overtone believes that culture is enriched and revitalized not only by the differences and variety of expression, but also by the underlying experiences that connect us all. The organization strives to create myths and fables that will illuminate the eternal forces that reverberate in our contemporary lives. By exploring new relationships among words, acting, movement, and music, the non-profit seeks to make the invisible visible and bring audiences, casts and production crews closer to understanding some of life’s mysteries.  Overtone Industries’ work has been performed in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and in New York at the Kurt Weill Recital Hall in Carnegie Hall.

    “At its core, Songs and Dances of Imaginary Lands is a love story,” says Jones in summing up the production.

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    For more information, photos, or to arrange an interview, please contact Green Galactic’s Lynn Hasty at 213.840.1201 and lynn@greengalactic.com

    Posted on March 26th, 2010 lynn-hasty No comments

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