By Cherie Messore

Contemporary Work Visits Torn Space Theater

“The Fever” visits Torn Space Theater’s Response Festival

There’s more to theatre than the familiar shows or the ones that make headlines when they open or close or win an award. Theatre – like all art forms – is supposed to be risky, daring, with dramas that sandpaper your mind and comedies that push the envelope beyond absurd.

Buffalo’s robust theatre community has a place for all of the above. Torn Space Theatre is making sure that aficionados of contemporary and avant garde theatre find their place here. The company’s Response Festival began last year to showcase some of the top contemporary performance companies and bring them to Buffalo, according the managing director Marisa Caruso. The festival concludes with a limited run of “The Fever “ by 600 Highwaymen. There’s a Curtain Up performance on September 15, 7:30pm and two shows on September 16 at 4pm and 7:30pm, at The Adam Mickiewicz Dramatic Circle, 612 Fillmore Ave., Buffalo. Tickets are $25.

Caruso says, “It’s an incredible company to bring in, they are just exploding now.” Fresh from a European Tour, the company just premiered a new piece at the prestigious Salzburg Festival.

600 Highway Men performed this piece as part of the Under the Radar Festival in New York City, a showcase for avant garde pieces. It’s well-suited to Torn Space’s 70-seat house.

Contemporary work like this and the characteristically small theatre space present some challenges. Without the broad appeal and a large space (read: lots of seats to sell), private donors and sponsors are needed to invest in the value of a diverse theatre landscape. Torn Space’s Response Festival was launched with a major gift from The Cullen Foundation.  Company director Dan Shanahan says, “The work we’re bringing in is in line with the company’s work. We have cultivated an audience that’s in line with this work.  Our audience is excited to see this material because they are seeing something exciting and fresh.”

Torn Space’s Response Festival is more than a show on stage, too. Thought-provoking content requires (and deserves) more than its 90 minutes under the spotlight. A roundtable discussion will follow, with a duo of professors from the University at Buffalo. Professor Lindsay Hunter, associate professor of theatre and WBFO Visiting Professor Dr. Amma Ghartey-Tagoe Kootin will discuss the essence of contemporary performance and community engagement. This connection to community is central to Torn Space’s mission. “All of our pieces involve some sort of community engagement,” says Caruso.  “We hope the more we bring in these groups, the more people will realize the significance of the work.”

Tickets are available at www. tornspacetheatre.com or http://www.responsefest.com.

Promotional Consideration By The Theatre Alliance of Buffalo.