Set in Patrick’s On Third, the cast will perform in front of audience members who are there to watch or who are caught off gaurd by the performance
Ben Kolis’s senior theatre project has been in the works for two years and will finally come to fruition on April 20, 21 and 22 at 8:30 p.m. at Patrick’s On Third.
The location is not the only unique thing about this show, which features the combination of theatre and dance: a hybrid of playwriting, acting and directing for the participants.
Kolis chose the bar as the location for his piece because of the uniqueness of the place.
“In a bar, you don’t think twice about anything. You couldn’t get away with anything like this anywhere else—it’s about drawing attention to those moments of beauty,” Kolis said. “There’s a certain amount of myth that surrounds the whole scene. It’s a place where people can get away with being out of control.”
“We’re not closing down the bar at all, so there’s a lot of unpredictability and a lot of dealing with people who don’t really know what we’re doing,” Kolis said. “Everyone’s the performer and everyone’s the audience.”
They will tape off their performing space so that those who come to watch will be able to see where the action is happening, but as Kolis said, “Everything is very fluid.”
“To me, it makes a statement that recognizes art as it is in real life, without the lights, costumes and the barrier between performer and audience,” Sophomore cast member Mallory Waytashek said.
It also formed the basis for the name of the piece, Glass.
“Glass, like a glass of alcohol. I had to pick the title before I knew what it was going to be about—Glass is pretty ambiguous,” Kolis said.
Alcohol also relates to the combination of dance and theater.
“Alcohol does really interesting things to people’s physicality,” Kolis said.
Kolis’s interest in combining theater and dance stemmed from his first show at Gustavus, The Other Shore.
“It was my first exposure to movement training. We would do two hours of movement training in the morning,” Kolis said. “The movement lent itself to the piece because it was available.”
“The idea of ‘movement theatre’ upon which Glass is built, is really an interesting combination of dance and theatre,” Waytashek said. “The lines are blurred between these two mediums and it creates a very unique product.”
Kolis cast this show accordingly—a third of the cast are dancers, a third are actors and the other third don’t have any formal training. He wanted to keep the show “non-genre specific for every layer of it.”
The show is also unique in that it lacks a plot.
“Imagine the way a dance concert is structured—piece after piece. That’s how this piece is constructed. It’s frames of reference,” Kolis said. “The pieces end up being how the performers interact with each other—the performers have the say.”
This project is as much about the process as it is about the finished project. “Part of my thesis is filming it and documenting the process, so a lot of it is video documented,” Kolis said. “The whole process is based on games. How can we play with this? How can we make this fun?”
The group goes down to Patrick’s and plays a variety of games to see how people react in the bar setting. “One of the things we did was see how many people we can lean on, and it was an amazing number.” Kolis said. “In a bar, how many people care if you get leaned on? Not very many.”
The process is meant to be experimental. “I make a lesson plan everyday and we never follow it, but the cast is creative enough that I don’t have to worry about it. Things happen really easily,” Kolis said.
“This entire process has been experimental and demanding of creativity, which can be tiring at times, but I feel very lucky to be able to laugh with [and] put my trust in the exceptional people in this cast,” Waytashek said.
“This is my honors project. I’ve wanted to do this project for two and a half years now,” Kolis said. “The number of people that have given me advice and help is more than I would have thought.” He cites Henry MacCarthy, Jeffery Peterson, John Mayer and Melissa Rolnick as being his mentors.