Theater

One at a Time

A New Festival Focuses on the Solo Artist

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Summer is a great time for theatrical experimentation—all of the big theaters are on hiatus, audiences are restless, and most theater spaces are air-conditioned.

Taking full advantage of the season is the 1 Festival, a brand-new festival that aims to showcase performance in a range of disciplines—dance, theater, music, storytelling. The lineup each night is all over the map: Tonya Joan Miller's show about her mother's experiences in Vietnam during the war; Erin Leddy's Drammy-winning My Mind Is Like an Open Meadow; a program called New Women in Butoh; work from choreographers Tahni Holt and Linda Austin; and plenty more. The common thread is an emphasis on solo work—the voice and perspective of a single artist.

"The relationship between performer and audience is about as intimate as it gets in the performing arts," says co-director Sean Bowie of solo performance. "There seems to be something about being alone onstage that can really free up a performer to be truly inventive in how they tell their story." That freedom accounts for the uniquely varied festival lineup.

"In one of our Directions in Dance Series we have contemporary choreographer Tahni Holt paired with Hannah Sim, whose work with Osseus Labrynt took her on tour with rock band Tool, where she performed insect, creature-like aerial work," co-curator Mizu Desierto explains. "On this same bill is contemplative dance artist Aura Fischbeck from San Francisco. They each represent radically different approaches to dance today. The festival as a whole also represents an enormous spectrum of expression."

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