How many ways are there to be dramatic?
If French author Georges Polti had it right, there are 36 dramatic situations that provide the basis for all drama.
Millersville University will be presenting 12 of Polti's situations in "36 Dramatic Situations - Part One." The other situations will be covered at a later date.
"We knew it would be too much to have all 36 situations in one show," says Barry Kornhauser, who spearheads the Family Arts Collaborative at Millersville's Ware Center in downtown Lancaster. "So we will do 12 this time, another 12 later and the remaining 12 after that."
The event lives up to its name of "collaborative" arts. There will be 12 different performing artists and arts companies from all over Lancaster participating in the unique performance art show, combining the talents of theatre artists, dancers, musicians, puppeteers and spoken word artists - not to mention artists who paint.
In fact, the idea for "36 Dramatic Situations" came about when Kornhauser and artist Gail Gray got to talking about Polti's premise of a situation for every dramatic circumstance. Polti's book was published in France in 1895, then translated into English in the 1920s. In "36 Dramatic Situations," Polti suggests that all fictional and dramatic stories are variations and adaptations of only 36 basic plots.
The show grew out of 12 paintings done by Gray - all abstract works of art intended to evoke the dramatic situations. From the seed of each painting came the performance art that would relate to that situation.
"We went out into the community and the response has been overwhelming. This is something very different that spans many forms of art," says Kornhauser.
While this First Friday performance will be held in the theatre at the Ware Center, Kornhauser visualizes it being held throughout the building next time - and maybe throughout Lancaster city after that. He wants the show to evoke all the senses and the emotions for a truly dramatic, multi-dimensional experience.
What Kornhauser and Gray discovered in putting the show together is that Polti might have been on to something. From plays to musicals, movies to TV dramas, the plot just about always fits into a Polti situation, sometimes more than just one.
Take Dramatic Situation #2: Deliverance. This is about someone in need of rescue, who is being mistreated and needs someone to come to the rescue. Immediately, damsels in distress - such as Snow White or Cinderella - seeking a knight in shining armor come to mind. The ending, of course, is that everyone lives happily ever after.
Then there is Dramatic Situation #5: Pursuit. This has to do with a fugitive being relentlessly pursued, and what better book and musical to illustrate this than "Les Miserables" - or the TV show and movie "The Fugitive."
Then there are other situations, such #8: Revolt, which is so well depicted in books like "A Tale of Two Cities," and #9: Daring Enterprise, covering all the adventure and space exploration films, including "Star Wars," "Star Trek" and the new "Gravity."
For the Ware Center's presentation, each of the performers got to pick out of a hat, so to speak. They had the opportunity to trade situations if they wanted.
"But no one did, they were all happy with the situation they chose," says Kornhauser, adding that the 12 dramatic situations do not necessarily cover the first 12 in order.
The idea is to show variation and versatility, and plenty of passion (which would be Dramatic Situation #22: All Sacrificed for Passion). With each performance, an image of Gray's painting matching that situation will be projected overhead. And the artists are:
Latino performing artist Angelique Arroyo presents a solo spoken-word piece, her interpretation of Dramatic Situation #3: Crime Pursued by Vengeance.
Theatre for Transformation intertwines music, excerpts from Mary Oliver's poem "Wild Geese," an original monologue by artistic director Amanda Kemp, and yoga asanas to pursue Dramatic Situation #5: Pursuit.
Heads-Up brings its urban arts sensibilities to Dramatic Situation #8: Revolt with a mix of junkyard drumming, street beats and break dancing.
OperaLancaster will present a bravado duet from Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro" with live accompaniment to convey Dramatic Situation #9: Daring Enterprise.
Motion Picture is a theatrical company new to Lancaster that provides a comical examination of Dramatic Situation #10: Abduction through a "puppet" show.
Joining forces for Dramatic Situation #11: The Enigma will be Mimi Shapiro and The Cobalt Dance Company with 10 dancers, choreographed by Marie Rothhacker, moving to the music of Duke Ellington and an original poem written and recited by Shapiro.
The People's Shakespeare Company delves into Dramatic Situation #16: Madness with three intertwined monologues by three of the Bard's most famous less-than-sane female characters, Lady Macbeth, Ophelia and Katherina.
Jazz bassist Keith Mohler, along with fellow musicians Tom Witmer on guitar and Chris Heslop on woodwinds, will give their own musical spin to Dramatic Situation #17: Fatal Imprudence.
Creative Works Lancaster explores Dramatic Situation #22: All Sacrificed for Passion with a playful piece that intertwines a cast of live actors and the company's signature sock puppets.
Touring indie rock band Jake Lewis and the Clergy will perform an original composition based on Dramatic Situation #28: Obstacles to Love.
Ukulele Uprising performs a traditional Hawaiian song, "Kaulana na Pua" - written in 1893 to protest the annexation of Hawaii - for the band's interpretation of Dramatic Situation #31: Conflict with a God, complete with hula dancers.
And the Grant Street Dance Company tackles Dramatic Situation #34: Remorse, with Kim Jureckson choreographing an original piece for 14 dancers reflecting Gray's painting.
"The 36 Dramatic
Situations - Part I"
Performance Friday from 6-8 p.m.
Free, but tickets required
Art exhibit by Gail Gray cont. through Nov.
Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Free
The Ware Center, 42 N. Prince St.