NEW WEIRD AMERICA is a dance-theater play currently being performed at 95 Empire in downtown Providence. Directed by Ari Rodriguez ’13, New Weird America is a devised theater piece that mixes dance, language, and music to tell the story of four couples. The play centers around the rituals and traditions of pan-American courtship. With a completely Brown student cast and crew, this show is bringing interesting new theater to the greater Providence community.
New Weird America – it’s everything you would expect and nothing at the same time. Confusing? Well, you’ll just have to go see it for yourself. Bridging the gap between experimental theater and dance, the show has the ability to communicate something different to each audience member. It’s new. It’s weird. And for me created a new idea of what “America” can mean.
The talented cast has a large amount of dance and musical ability. Along with dancing the “La Cueca” (a Latin American Folk Dance), they play many different instruments including, but not limited to, the guitar, cello, and accordion. Similarly, cast members Sophie Hawley-Weld ’14 and Ursula Raasted ’14 lend their spectacular vocal talents to the world. Raastad’s rich voice particularly stands out as it brings a warmth and texture that propels the story forward.
Most of the production’s language isn’t in English. And… I only speak English. But, don’t let this deter you. If you speak Spanish or Portuguese or whatever it is they are speaking, you will be better able to understand the text. However, the language barrier can also make you more attentive to how the performers tell the story through their body language and dance.
New Weird America gives the audience the chance to observe and become one with the small community of characters the actors have devised. The piece starts out in a nontraditional way with the cast finding each other in a movement-based exercise with their eyes closed. All you can hear is the sound of them breathing together. Eventually the audience was breathing with them, giving the room a sense of harmony and community. This continues throughout the piece until the end, when the audience joins the cast in dance.
New Weird America is being performed in the theater space associated with AS220, a collection of spaces that aims to help provide and create a greater home for the arts in Rhode Island. They embrace all forms of art and expression (while also serving up some awesome food). New Weird America is the perfect opportunity to explore a new avenue of Downtown Providence while still supporting Brown Students. Come downtown, get some dinner and drinks at AS220 (if you want), and head next door to see it.
At 95 Empire February 24th, 27th, 28th and March 1st and 2nd at 8 p.m. with additional performances Feb 24th and March 3rd at 3 p.m. Tickets are available online or at the door for $8 with a student ID.