"The Way of the Rain" has a second performance Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. (See box for ticket information.)
Integral to show, which is performed in the round, are the luxurious and colorful Dessert Silks, which hang from the ceiling. Musicians and dancers from the award-winning Complexions Contemporary Ballet weave in and out of the flowing fabric, while lights and videos of Szaggers Redford's "rain paintings" are reflected upon them.
For the paintings, the artist applied pigment to paper and set it out in New Mexico's lively monsoon rains. As the drops interacted with the paint she took video on her smartphone.
While that was the impetus for "The Way of The Rain" project, it has evolved over the years, with Szaggers Redford collaborating with other artists, including Will Calhoun, co-founder of the band Living Colour, and composers Dave Eggar and Chuck Palmer.
Together they brought on Iranian American vocalist Sussan Deyhim, who plays Mother Earth. Deyhim brings her unique sonic and vocal language to the show, similar to what she has done on various movie soundtracks such as "Argo," "Last Temptation of Christ" and "The Kite Runner."
Two members of the American rock band O.A.R also are part of the cast: vocalist Marc Roberge and guitarist Richard On.
Robert Redford's part comes near the near they end. Dressed in all white, he reads environmental excerpts from the writings Llewellyn Vaughn-Lee's "Spiritual Ecology," and Thomas Berry's "The Sacred Universe." The writings implore us to listen to the Earth and "renew our relationship with the planet."
Festival Director John Cooper, who wanted to include "The Way of the Rain" in this year's festival, was happy with his decision.
"I'm proud of us for stretching the idea of what storytelling is," he said after the show. "I didn't know what to expect, but it was beautiful, abstract and lively."