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Fusebox Festival

All shook up

By Robert Faires, Fri., April 27, 2012

<i>Elvis Machine</i>
Elvis Machine

Seriously, Elvis and Captain Kirk.

The fact that both these pop-culture paragons are in the mix should be enough to convince you that the 2012 Fusebox Festival is gonna be a hunka, hunka burnin' awesome.

Of course, true to form, the boundaries-blurring arts jamboree won't be presenting either of these icons of all-American virility in quite the manner you expect. Indeed, through the wizardry of modern technology (and some old-school theatrical magic), the pair will be reconstituted as contemporary cyberstars. Theatre collective the Duplicates, which has wowed audiences at the University of Texas with works such as The Fictional Life of Historical Oddities and september play, has broken loose from campus and transformed the old Value Sky Park lot on Manor Road into a drive-in theatre, where the King's pink Cadillac (the Elvis Rose) will cruise from Elvis' boyhood home in Mississippi to a modern salvage yard on the outskirts of Memphis, Tenn., to Sun Records studio in search of the true meaning of Elvis. From the comfort of their own autos, audience members follow along on this odyssey and see the Caddy meet a toaster robot, a television and lamp automaton, and a cyborg constructed of blue-suede shoes and sideburns. Doesn't the prospect of seeing a half-man, half-machine Mr. Dynamite have you itchin' like a man on a fuzzy tree?

<i>An Evening With William Shatner Asterisk</i>
An Evening With William Shatner Asterisk

Meanwhile, director Phil Soltanoff – who's stimulated Fusebox crowds in the past with L.A. Party, The 12:19 Library, and I/O – has teamed with writer Joe Diebes and systems designer Rob Ramirez to create a video puppet of William Shatner in his signature role. By digitizing every line the actor spoke while commanding the starship Enterprise during Star Trek's original mid-Sixties run and then editing the words into new combinations, they've manipulated the good captain into delivering a speech on art in the 21st century and theatre as it goes post-human.

But that's hardly the final frontier of celebrity sightings where this year's Fusebox is concerned. Between now and May 5, the festival will also play host to the Pope and the Singing Nun (When a Priest Marries a Witch, an Artist Talk by Suzanne Bocanegra starring Paul Lazar), the Founding Fathers (Gloria's Cause), dead salesman Willy Loman (This Great Country), evangelist Marjor Gortner (The Word: A House Party for Jesus), and a horde of megastar robots (the Dionysium). How these cultural luminaries are altered is something you ought to investigate yourself at www.fuseboxfestival.com.

Fusebox is fusing performance and film again this year with programs that scan the earth (the fungi-philic Now, Forager) and the heavens (the space-spanning Orbit! Films About Our Solar System). (For details, see "Experimental/Experiential," Screens, p.45.) And if you're hungry for art and food, be advised that Fusebox is dishing up another serving of its Digestible Feats series, where artists collaborate with chefs and mixologists for your aesthetic and gustatory pleasure. You can sample the fusion of Italian cooking and music with composer Graham Reynolds and chef Lucky Sibilia; slug down a noir drama told in five craft cocktails with playwrights Steve Moore and Zeb West, and bartender Jason Stevens; and taste a dessert newly imagined by writer David Fruchter, painter Kaci Beeler, and chef Jodi Elliott, among other delectations. This fest is a feast, with more than 50 events over the remaining 11 days. What are you waiting for? Dig in!


Elvis Machine will be performed April 26-28, Thursday, 9pm; and Friday & Saturday, 9pm and 11:59pm, at the former Value Sky Park lot, 2900 Manor Rd.


An Evening With William Shatner Asterisk will be performed Friday and Saturday, April 27 & 28, 7pm; Sunday, April 29, 2pm; Thursday, May 3, 9pm; Friday, May 4, 7pm; and Saturday, May 5, 4pm, at Salvage Vanguard Theater, 2803 Manor Rd. For more information on either show, visit www.fuseboxfestival.com.

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