‘Art is Free’ Opens Theater Series

Dimitri Bechtold Pauses during a dramatic glimpse into the future of free art. Photo by Nathan Merrier
Dimitri Bechtold Pauses during a dramatic glimpse into the future of free art. Photo by Nathan Merrier.

“Art is freeing but art is not free…”

The theater was dead silent after this line rang out. The show was coming to a close and the performance’s message was becoming clear.

Foggy, a resolute fog machine operator played by Nick Poulos, was at the end of his enlightening journey and was relaying the message he learned back to the audience. In his journey Foggy was guided by the ghosts of theater past, present and future to explore the consequences of Congress passing a bill making all art free.

Art is free the next installment of the theater season explores what the art world would be like after an art is free law is passed and it is illegal for artists to get compensated for their work. The performance takes place during a tech week rehearsal and takes you through different scenarios of theater performance, moving through different repercussions of having free art in society.

“The idea started in the Devised Theater (TH 465) which was taught by co-director Jen Tuder, ” said Stage Manager Andrew Kinzer.

“The original concept for the show was a meta-theater performance, which is a performance about theater, so people do not know much about the arts and what’s going on behind the scenes, and what tech week and stuff is like,” added Kinzer, who played the stage manager.

According to Kinzer, tech week is the week before the show where all the lights, props and technical elements come into rehearsal.

He further expanded on how they got the idea for the art is free saying, “We came up with this idea that what if a law was passed and artists don’t receive compensation, kind of playing off how no one wants to pay money for shows currently.”

When asked when the actual genesis of the idea occurred, Kinzer responded, “During the summer a couple of us got together to further develop the show, and we came to the decision that the stakes were not high enough, that’s when we came up with the art is free part of the performance.”

Senior theater major Abigail Oelke, who played Cassandra and a puppeteer in the performance, commented on the direction of the show.

“We wanted something that means something to us and means something to other people and something that we could really like sink their teeth into and understand,” Oelke said. “We decided that we wanted to talk about us, about our struggles with being artists. This is our world and this is where we are.“

Oelke defined what made devised theater different from classic theater.

“Devised theater is a collaboration more than anything else. It’s getting a group of people to come together and realize a single ideal and put it out on a stage,” Oelke said.

She continued on saying, “A big challenge with devised theater is that people won’t get it and people wont understand what we try to conceptualize on a bigger scale.”

When asked if they thought that under appreciation of art is a real problem, Oelke responded, “Art is so hard, because its value is completely based on opinion. You can put your whole heart and soul into a show, painting or song and if someone doesn’t see your soul in it and doesn’t care about it, it’s essentially worthless to the rest of society.”

In closing the show Foggy said that, “like a magic trick can make people laugh, theater can make people feel.”

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