Thursday, October 16, 2008

To Troy!

There's a spanking new center for the arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY. The Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) is a beautifully designed, 220,000 square-foot facility perched high on a hill that overlooks Troy and Albany. The building alone is worth the trip. Inside, there's a 1,200-seat concert hall, a 400-seat theater, and two studio spaces, configurable as traditional black-box theaters or as fully immersive environments. But the selection of cutting edge performances and films shown are the real reason you'll want to go. My favorite:

The Wooster Group's: THERE IS STILL TIME..BROTHER, directed by Liz LeCompte

This is an interactive 360-degree anti-war film. Inside a cylindrical room completely surrounded by a projection screen, there are 45 rotating stools. Be sure to take a turn with the person sitting on the controlling stool (or yell as you enter "I get the control seat, I called it!"). You decide the film's focus within its multiple narrative. Do you want to see graphic war imagery or explicit sexual scenes? Scott Shepherd explains the process (he's very funny) while Kate Valk plays a blogger named Moira - as always, she's mesmerizing. You can watch Ava Gardner and Gregory Peck's farewell scene from the 59 film of Nevil Shute's novel, "On the Beach" or Kate and Scott perform that scene simultaneously. Ari Fliakos gives an eerie performance as Tanner, a British soldier describing the massacre after outnumbered British troops battle the French for control of Fort Calypso. Nearby, a banner is seen fluttering in the wind reading: 'There is still time... Brother'."

But don't wait too long, the show closes on October 19.

Luchy Edwards