The stage is set, the lamps are wired, the proverbial “barn” has been raised and the artists have begun to preview their work for a small audience of their producers in the lead-up to the launch of Barnstorm: The Cabaret Re-Imagined.
Barnstorm is a new arts event in Seattle. There is no format or template for presentation, there is no assigned seating or expectations, there’s no call time or paid ushers to shepherd you to your seat. There is food and booze, however, and there is new art from emerging and established artists who have engaged and grappled with various social issues across a range of disciplines. Barnstorm is more of a new arts hang-out that takes place between May 5-7 from six in the evening going until two in the morning.
The curation of Barnstorm was an exciting and difficult process. It required much more blending than it did a meeting of theme or agenda. Blending of young and experienced artists, blending of subjects, blending of comedy and gravity. As a result, there’s a range of topics tackled and no clear route as to how the artists are making their way to their audience.
Take for instance, Rajaa Gharbi, one of the show’s featured painters and poets. She’s a Tunisian-American who is continuing the conversation about the revolution in her country through the work she is sharing at Barnstorm. She is drawn to fluidity and water in her work and features a Mediterranean-influenced palette. She is also fundraising like mad to establish Tunisia’s first independent radio station. At Barnstorm, she will read, show her work, and answer questions.
Blend this with Manuel Castro and Tikka Sears, Artistic Directors of Memory War Theater, who have joined creative forces to present their newest multimedia play, Below U.S. Combining physical theater, shadow puppetry, and text drawn from interviews with community members, Below U.S. brings powerful, cross-cultural stories that deepen our understanding of the experiences of those living at the borders of cultures, languages, ethnicities and identities in Hybrid America. Most of the characters are portrayed by the versatile Sears, and include an array of real and imagined individuals, creating a visually striking multimedia experience that is layered, searing, funny, and explosive.
Throw all this in with a satirical rock musical titled “Calling Mary Kate.” The company’s performance ranges through the entire Barnstorm environment and you can read their call to arms below:
“If you act now, you too can profit off of World War 3! Mary Kate Olsen and Jack Fool, the unlicensed, psychedelic therapist, conspired to create a game-changing design that will take the nation by storm. You are cordially invited to the product launch of World War 3 DOLLS! Come experience this once in a lifetime opportunity to invest, Invest INVEST! Our top tier investors will be able to get their hands on the elusive Dead Ledger Doll while supplies last! Warning: this product may cause you to realize that cancer is not a disease. It is a symptom of an imbalanced culture hell-bent on becoming zombiez."
These are just three of the more than twenty projects presented at Barnstorm – a space for artists, built by hand by other artists. Join us for a beer and conversation on May 5-7. Learn more about the project at barnstormcabaret.org.
This is a guest post by the fine folks of Quiet Heroes on a Rainy Night.