Melissa Meola is one half of the brain behind Torn Space Theater, the avant-garde, experimental company that wows audiences at the Adam Mickiewicz Dramatic Circle and in site-specific performances around the city, like its production of "The Gathering" at Silo City last weekend.
The collaborative Response Performance Festival has returned for a second year and has more performances Sept. 15-16 at the Adam Mickiewicz Library & Dramatic Circle (612 Fillmore Ave.). Meola recently reflected on her life in storytelling.
Question: What other job in the theater would you like to attempt?
Answer: Well, in the beginning, Torn Space Theater was just (my husband) Dan Shanahan and me. We did everything! At one point I was called “the octopus” because I was running lights, sound, and video all on my own.
Fortunately, we have assembled a crew of super-talented designers, and I am grateful to all of them for their talent and vision. But I have always dreamed of singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” for a large crowd.
Q: What book, play or movie had the biggest impact on you as a child?
A: When I was 12, I read “The Mysterious Stranger” by Mark Twain. It exposes the contractions, follies, hubris and inhumanity of mankind. The ending moved me the most: Satan’s nephew appears to a group of schoolboys on a hillside, and reveals that all is an illusion, that everything that has been has been created out of his imagination.
“Dream other dreams—and better,” he says. This idea—that everything is created out of the possibilities of our mind—has had a lasting impression on me and guided my future.
Q: What play or musical are you sick of?
A: I don't think there's one I am sick of. There are innumerable ways in which to present and re-present work. A good play or musical should be able to hold up to both reinterpretation or a strict adherence to its creator's intention. It depends on the talent of the directors, designers, cast and crew.
600 Highwaymen, from New York City, at Torn Space's Response Performance Festival
7:30 p.m. Sept. 15; 4 and 7:30 p.m. Sept. 16 at Adam Mickiwicz Library & Dramatic Circle (612 Fillmore Ave.). Cost is $25.
NEXT TORN SPACE PRODUCTION
"The Kind of Thing You Don't Talk About" by Asia Gagnon in collaboration with Max Bernstein. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 1-3 at The Adam Mickiewicz Dramatic Circle (612 Fillmore Ave.).