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In ‘Boulevard’, Torn Space takes the audience on a unique journey through virtual reality, live theater

In ‘Boulevard’, Torn Space takes the audience on a unique journey through virtual reality, live theater

The artistic performances created by Torn Space Theater tend to forgo storytelling in favor of evoking emotion and stimulating ideas. The latest innovation, The Boulevard, does a lot of both.

First, the unique setting: There are two parts of about 30 minutes each that happen simultaneously: one is a live show, and the other is watched by wearing virtual reality glasses. Half of the audience will watch the live theater segment while the other half will start with the VR portion of the show. Then they turn. Crew members will hand out the VR goggles and make sure they fit each member of the audience correctly. They will return when the first part is finished, disinfecting the glasses and helping the other half of the audience wear goggles.

The live-action “Boulevard” is based on a set inspired by Harold Pinter’s 1961 drama The Group, the story of a married couple caught in a web of alienation, fabrication, intimidation, and ultimately isolation. room-like spaces representing their apartments; In the space between them, the old dial phone exudes a tension that cannot be identified with its stark anonymity and without a screen.

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In “Boulevard”, a character played by Nikia Garza becomes desperate as she takes selfies of herself to forge a new identity but to no avail. The two-part production is presented by Torn Space Theater at the Adam Mickiewicz Library and Dramatic Circle.


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Turns out, the phone was a catalyst for the behaviors of our four actors — Nikia Garza, Calop Thompson, Justin Lees and Carmen Swans — who perform largely on pantomime. An invisible narrator (Masumeh Mirzai) reads from the works of Hannah Arendt as the husbands watch their movements.

The text is taken from Arendt’s “The Origins of Totalitarianism”. Dan Shanahan, co-director of the piece with Melissa Shanahan, said they were drawn to Arendt’s work because of his uncanny connection to world politics in 2022.

Arendt, philosopher and Holocaust survivor, was looking at Nazism and Stalinism with her classic book. Her notes were an analysis of the horrors of the past, and they turned out to be warnings of things to come. As Arendt observed: “(The masses) were content with blind partisanship in anything forbidden by respectable society, regardless of theory or content, and they elevated cruelty to a great virtue because it contradicts the humanistic and liberal hypocrisy of society.”

As the narrator reads, Torn Space’s audience sits on the edge of the action, a few feet away from characters carefully terrorized by lies, half-truths, and insinuations. For them, politics became personal.

Arendt speaks again, this time from 1951: “Mass propaganda discovered that its audience was at all times ready to believe the worst, no matter how absurd it was, and did not particularly object to deception, for it considered every statement a lie anyway.”

More isolated than ever before due to their connective technology, the characters encounter this new and frightening mystery in predictable ways, on their way to inescapable loneliness where terror can take its toll and tyrants can rule. the end.

The other part of the show is more mind-bending. Flatsitter created a new virtual reality experience using images from Torn Space’s summer production, “Crosswalk,” a fashion show party/art evening with pro and amateur clothing creations, music, cricket and sunsets.

After donning goggles and headphones, the audience is treated to a triple hut of trains, traffic, flights, illusions, fires and face coverings and culminates in…. Well, it would be better if you find out for yourself.

It’s a brave and strange new world.

Presented by Torn Space Theater and Flatsitter

what or what: A live/virtual reality experience illustrating the dilemmas of modern-day connectivity and the birth of inclusion.

Summary: A two-part show, with four characters performing mysterious emotional reactions in one act, and in another act, audience members take a journey through art, fashion, industry, and more through virtual reality.

where: The Shattered Space Theater at the Adam Mickewicz Library and Dramatic Circle, 612 Fillmore Ave.

When: 11, 12, 17, 18, 19 November; December 1-3; Two shows at night, 7 and 8:15 p.m.

the tickets: $30; $25 for students at tornspacetheater.com


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