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Salt Lake City arts groups to help end homelessness

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(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) They might not be the Beatles photographed crossing Abbey Road, but these Salt Lake City performers are crossing Broadway to publicize the resident companies of the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, the busy arts venue that some know only as "the building across the street from Squatter's." The artists: Deena Marie Manzanares, PYGmalion Theatre Company; David Horton, Gina Bachauer International Piano Foundation: Aaron Swenson, Plan-B Theatre Company; Nicholas Cendese, Repertory Dance Theatre; Annie Kent, SB Dance; and Brad Beakes, Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company.

By Ellen Fagg Weist

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Aug 18 2014 10:24AM
Updated Aug 20, 2014 09:43AM

In an unusual collaboration, six downtown arts companies are presenting "The Rose Exposed," a showcase to benefit the Road Home, which will also kick off a yearlong neighborhood partnership.

Beyond the thrill of putting on a show, organizers are excited about employing the power of dance, theater and music to show "that we are not only an economic engine to the area, and an artistic engine, but a community-building engine as well," says Linda Smith, artistic director of Repertory Dance Theatre.

The companies will create new works around the theme of "home" for Saturday’s Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center event, which Stephen Brown describes as a "performance potluck."

"The Rose Exposed" event was launched in 2012 to preview upcoming performances by the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center’s six resident companies. In some ways, this benefit will serve as a local version of "Broadway Cares," the high-profile variety show that draws upon the talents of the theater union to raise money to fight AIDS, says Brown, founder of SB Dance and president of the arts coalition based at the Rose.

"Without the home of the Rose Wagner, most of us would not have survived the ups and downs of the last decade," says Jerry Rapier, producing director of Plan-B Theatre Company. "At some point, each of us have been unsure of where our home base would be in the evolution of our companies."

The Salt Lake County arts venue is one of the city’s busiest, Smith says, and yet many Utahns know it only as "the building across the street from the Squatters Pub."

Many locals likewise are unaware of all the services The Road Home agency provides, while the partnership with the arts coalition might help expand some offerings. For example, "a lot of our clients don’t get the opportunity to go to arts events," says Celeste Eggert, director of development for Road Home. "We appreciate their approach: ‘You’re our neighbor. We want to help you,’ and it wasn’t just a one-time thing."

"The Rose Exposed" showcase offers another kind of creative challenge. The companies are requesting postings about the theme on the event’s Facebook page (http://on.fb.me/1r9dx8W). They’ll divide up those postings Tuesday, and the groups will have five working days to create new dance or theater works to be set to live music performed by pianists from another resident company, the Gina Bachauer International Piano Foundation.

"It’s great to work with the other artists in this building," says Daniel Charon, artistic director of Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company. "It seems kind of obvious, but we have so little contact with each other."

The public is invited to watch the process of art taking shape at final rehearsals Saturday. "Everybody comes to the process with lots of experience and daring," Smith says.

The created-under-pressure works might not turn out to be lasting works of art, but watching the process should be a worthwhile journey for audience members.

"So much work goes into doing any production and perfecting it and making it beautiful," says Fran Pruyn, artistic director of Pygmalion Productions. "But really, when it comes down to it, the art is in the rehearsal studio."

ellenf@sltrib.com

facebook.com/ellen.weist

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