“Patriot Acts”: international multi-media play challenges fear (NOV.7,8,9)

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Theatre for the 21st century is being born, with Pangea World Theater as midwife. Their “Bridges Project” unites different artistic mediums. Layres of spoken-word, film-making,music, dance, theatre in fresh collaborations, create a high-dive board for artists and audiences to simutaneously leap from and build new bridges. “Patriot Acts”, made by 22 diverse artists, (both local and international), crescendos beyond conventionality to take on today’s crucial post-9/11 issues.

“The theme is FREEDOM, drawn from conversations about the world we live in and where our voices are in the dialogue and where they aren’t,” says co-curator/actor Sha Cage, best known as co-creator of Mama Mosaic, the TC women of color theatre group.

“All we knew is we were going on a journey and we’d meet fellow-travelers. We’d break bread together, have dialogue. The project would be fragments of—artifacts from–that journey,” Cage’s co-curator and director e.g.baily elaborates.

Cage and bailey spent time in Europe engaging in political and creative dialogues, bringing back insights and artists’ work for “Patriot Acts”.

A rehearsal of “Patriot Acts” is exhillerating evolution: Drea Reynolds’ resonate singing; Amanda Furches’ stark dance; Cage as the Statue of Liberty carrying a flag-covered baby; TC hip-hop icon Truthmaze riffing with videotaped Leeds, England poet Swan; exhillerating poetry performed choral-style. ‘Characters” range from BBC reporters and the latest racially-profiled people labled “terrorists” to historical figures like Harriet Tubbman and a 15-year-old African-American girl, Kismet.

“Aesthetically it’s like jazz. Group improvisation. Process IS the thing itself,” “Bridges” curator J.Otis Powell! explains the “open space” philosophy “Patriot Acts” emerges from.

Like jazz, every perferomance is different, using the same materials but, keeping an artistic aperture for a continual re-visioning. It’s like the piece “‘Round Midnight”, played one way by John Coltrane and another by Miles Davis.

“The conversation around war–those 3 letters– is broader than the U.S! Being in Bosnia, talking about the effects of war STILL happening: separation of families, lost neighbors– it’s visceral,” Cage says. “Talking with artists about how they continue their art DURING war and other subversive ways we might employ here.”

“How is someone in London, Paris, Belgrade dealing with all these [post-9/11] issues? Because all we receive is through the media,” bailey describes the aims of what he calls ‘transcontinental collaboration’. “We were pointed to NOT like the french–but, what are French people on the street talking about? What we see of Americans presented in the media, we know THAT’S NOT US!”

“Patriot Acts” is rebellious art that dares to cross artificial boundaries, made by traditional theatre and the growing national security apparatus. Honoring individual voices while embracing inter-connectedness, these artists liberate the term ‘freedom’ from being a pro-war slogan to become unleashed creative expression and vigorous dissent. Artistic firepower of this magnitude could be both the mightiest weapon against violence and the transformative means towards reconcilliation.

“Patriot Acts” $12, Mon-Wed. Nov, 7,8,9, 7:30pm, Varsity Theatre, 3808–4th St. SE, Dickytown, Minneapolis (612)203-1088 www.pangeaworldtheater.org

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