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  • For Immediate Release:   June 25, 2010 (Updated July 15)

     

    Overtone Industries Presents
    An Art-Full New Contemporary Opera
    Songs and Dances of Imaginary Lands

    With Performances in a 25,000-Square-Foot Vacant Culver City Car Dealership

    Thursday, July 8 – Sunday, July 25, 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 three weekends of performances opening Thursday, July 8, 2010.  Billed as a contemporary opera, the large-scale, genre-bending production integrates an astounding array of innovative art installation, dance, voice, live and recorded music, projected video, costuming, community participation, and theater. Songs and Dances of Imaginary Lands was developed and cultivated by Director O-Lan Jones in an extensive guided collaboration that involves twenty one librettists, eleven composers, Costume and Scenic Designer Snezana Petrovic, Musical Director David O, Instrument Inventor Bart Hopkin, Choreographer Nina Winthrop, twenty performers, a nine-piece live orchestra, dozens of crew members, scores of community volunteers, and many others. The interdisciplinary production will run from Thursday, July 8 to Sunday, July 25, 2010 with five weekly performances (Thursdays through Sundays, 8:00 p.m. nightly with 2:00 p.m. 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 range from $15 – $50 and can be purchased via Overtone’s site at www.overtoneindustries.org/sdtickets.php.  Performances are suitable for mature teen and adult audiences.  Shows will be held in a vacant 25,000-square foot car dealership that is being temporarily transformed into a performance space at 8810 Washington Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232.  Parking lot on site.

    The Story of Songs & Dances-
    Songs and Dances of Imaginary Lands is a contemporary opera that follows Tom and Sue, a couple from different class backgrounds, who have lost their identities.  The couple reclaims their stories by visiting imaginary lands that embody the pivotal experiences of their lives.  They discover themselves anew through the 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 and gifts presented by life, love, and relationships.

    The Art of Songs & Dances-
    Under the direction of Costume and Scenic Designer Snezana Petrovic, the Company has transformed a vacant Culver City car dealership into a surreal performance space featuring a staggering number of colorful, site-specific art installations of the production’s titular imaginary lands, each dramatically different from one another.  An extensive community arts project brought together local artists and volunteers to create textures, props, and various aspects of the sets and costumes for the production.  These eclectic sets and costumes were created primarily from reclaimed and recycled materials that were donated and transformed through community participation.   The design team, with the aid of a small army of volunteers, spindled newspaper and knitted plastic bags into art — essentially turning trash into gold.

    “There is something about using simple materials that allows the artistic idea to shine through even more,” says Director O-Lan Jones.

    Inventor Gregg Emmel was commissioned to create special “audience transportation” in the form of trains.  Each scene of the production takes place on a separate stage in the performance space requiring the audience to shuffle from set to set to see the action. Some audience members will have to drag their chairs around, while others will be transported in style via train (either luxury or standard) — the different modes of transportation are assigned according to the price of their ticket (a class hierarchy system!).  Some audience members will be upgraded each night based on a lottery system.

    The Music of Songs & Dances-
    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 compositions span a range of musical styles from avant-garde classical to Eastern Bloc men’s choir, from island to rock.  Each captures the character of the imaginary land, or life moment, that it represents.

    Twenty eight songs are included in the production, incorporating electronic, traditional acoustic, and invented instruments in the unhomogenized array of recorded and live music performed by an orchestra under the direction of award-winning composer David O.  The live nine-piece orchestra features keyboards, violin, cello, upright and electric bass, electric and acoustic guitar, drums, percussion, clarinet, baritone sax, and instruments made by Bart Hopkin from found materials (slide whistle, lyre, hurdy gurdy, metal signaler, k-scraper, stone pour, +).  To get a taste of this eclectic musical feast, please sample the following Mp3 excerpts from the production recorded during a recent rehearsal:

    “Land Before Language” [0:43] – Music by David O
    www.overtoneindustries.org/files/EXCERPT-The-Land-Before-Language-SD2010.mp3

    “Tassos” [0:44] – Music by Eric Culver, Words by Ruth Margraff
    www.overtoneindustries.org/files/EXCERPT-Tassos-Part-1-SD2010.mp3

    “Stones Dance” [0:34] – Music by  Bart Hopkin, Words by Leon Martel
    www.overtoneindustries.org/files/EXCERPT-Stones-Dance-SD2010.mp3

    “Land of People Humbler Than Thou” [0:56] – Music and Words by O-Lan Jones
    www.overtoneindustries.org/files/EXCERPT-The-Land-Of-People-Humbler-Than-Thou-SD2010.mp3

    Additional details on these music selections, including names of the singers on each track, can be found in the Songs & Dances online media kit at www.overtoneindustries.org/sdmediakit.php.

    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 before he renovates it for commercial use.

    Says Director O-Lan Jones, “The extensive collaboration on the project is a metaphor for the existential point of the opera — in other words, we all make the world that we live in together.”

    O-Lan Jones, Director and Choreographer of the “Indigenous” Dances-
    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. In 1969, Jones 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 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 Schrader, 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 Los Angeles Times called “… audaciously experimental entertainment.”

    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 she 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 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.

    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).

    Gregg Emmel, Transportation Designer-
    For 25 years, Gregg Emmel has been a material guy — a product designer, engineer, artist, entrepreneur, and performer.  Emmel holds over 45 patents in diverse fields, while garnering attention from Interiors Magazine, Home and Gardens, and the Discovery Channel. He is the founder and principal inventor for Cryoport Inc.  In 1987, he also founded Egg, an industrial design incubator facilitating entrepreneurial projects and intellectual property.  In addition to his technical and commercial work, Emmel’s art, sculptures and performances have been featured at Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center, the Austin International Poetry Festival, Coachella Arts Festival, and Burning Man.  As the Founder and Director of the Solids Gallery, a sculpture collective, he has shown throughout the Los Angeles area. Emmel’s latest endeavor is The Guilds Studios, a professional collective of artists and creators.

    Nina Winthrop, Choreographer of the Traveling Lands-
    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.

    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-
    Emmy and Dramalogue award-winning 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 nonprofit seeks to make the invisible visible and bring audiences, casts, production crews, and ourselves 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.

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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 June 30th, 2010 lynn-hasty No comments

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