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Torn Space Theater’s 2nd Annual RESPONSE Festival brings two critically acclaimed theater companies to Buffalo

The Response Performance Festival will run August 18 - 20, September 15 and 16, 2017

With Buffalo’s packed event calendar and only so many beautiful summer days, it can be difficult to choose between the numerous events vying for our limited time. That being said, Torn Space Theater’s Response Performance Festival is worth a careful look.

With the success of last year’s inaugural Festival, Torn Space Theater (TST) is reaching even higher this year by bringing two critically acclaimed NYC-based theater companies to Buffalo, Palissimo Company and 600 Highwaymen. TST will also debut an original production entitled “The Gathering” within the scenic Buffalo landmark, Silo City.

In addition to “The Gathering” at Silo City, will be the mobile virtual reality gallery by Buffalo artist, Kyle Marler. “The Dream Wanderer will showcase his exhibition entitled Lilydale, a virtual reality exploration of spiritualism and the afterlife. The festival will take place August 18-20 and September 15-16 with guest lecturers, artists’ talks, and a scholarly panel co-sponsored by the University of Buffalo Department of Humanities.”

Artistic director, Dan Shanahan, and associate director, Melissa Meola, established RESPONSE Festival as a source of internationally acclaimed contemporary performance, not currently found in Western New York. Torn Space Theater offers both original drama and new interpretations of existing plays in collaboration with local actors, composers, sculptors, video artists and designers. This year Dan Shanahan and Melissa Meola won the Artie Award for “Best Direction of a Play – the Collection” and were nominated in four categories total.

OUTSTANDING DIRECTION OF A PLAY: Dan Shanahan and Melissa Meola, The Collection
OUTSTANDING SET DESIGN: Kristina Siegel, The Collection
OUTSTANDING LIGHTING DESIGN: Patty Rihn and Carlie Todaro-Rickus, Rhapsody

Torn Space Theater Company resides in the Adam Mickiewicz Library & Dramatic Circle, a nonprofit private club founded in 1895, which is located on Fillmore Avenue in Buffalo’s eastside. The private club is the oldest Polish American organization in Western New York and is the oldest surviving Polish library in Buffalo.

“The library holds about 12,000 volumes with 400 hand-copied plays. The bar serves over 50 different imported beers with a large Polish selection. The “Circle” is also home to a large annual Dyngus Day party, as well as other cultural events.”

Check out the 2017 schedule for Torn Space Theater’s Response Performance Festival below:


The Gathering, Torn Space Theater Original Production
Premiering @ Silo City
August 18 & 19


Torn Space Theater returns to the industrial setting of Buffalo’s Silo City for its latest offering. Collaborating with local artists, technicians, and performers, The Gathering focuses on ideas of surveillance and autonomy, combining the artifacts and ideologies of our collective experience into a singular spectacle. Click here for tickets. General Admission @ $25. VIP @ $100 includes meal, drinks and a special additional pre-performance experience.

Fri 8/18 – VIP at 6:30pm, Performance at 7:30pm
Sat 8/19 – VIP at 6:30pm, Performance at 7:30pm

@ Silo City
August 18 & 19


Above video from 2015’s They Kill Things. Video by FLATSITTER.

FLATSITTER is an interdisciplinary collaborative that incorporates video, film, software programming, performance and installation.The Dream Wanderer is a transit shuttle that has been converted into a mobile gallery delivering original avant-garde virtual reality experiences to diverse audiences across the US and Mexico. Since December 2016, The Dream Wanderer has visited dozens of cities and delivered “gorgeous and immersive” VR experiences to over 4,000 people. The original VR work being exhibited is titled “Lily Dale” and is a virtual reality exploration of spiritualism and the afterlife. This experience features a custom-drawn tarot deck and 20 different VR vignettes for multiple viewings.

A virtual reality experience that’s on the weirder side of sublime, that’s eerie and personal and arranged like a beautiful immersive installation that takes place inside your head.
– The Austin Chronicle

The Lily Dale exhibition will be on site at Silo City alongside The Gathering.


Bastard, Palissimo Company in residence
@ Adam Mickiewicz Library and Dramatic Circle

August 19 & 20


Video by Palissimo Company.

Torn Space Theater hosts the NYC-based performance company Palissimo as part of its second annual RESPONSE Festival. Choreographed by Pavel Zuštiak, Palissimo’s Czechoslovakian-born artistic director, Bastard is the first part of the company’s The Painted Bird trilogy, inspired by Jerzy Kosinski’s controversial 1956 novel of the same name, integrating dance, video and visual projections with live music. In the novel, a human captures a bird and paints it in brilliant colors. When the painter releases the bird, it is attacked as an imposter by its own flock. In the experimental spirit of Palissimo performances, this interpretation features a collaboration between Bessie award-winning soloist Jaro Viňarský and an ensemble of professional and non-professional dancers drawn from the community.

Palissimo assembles artists of various disciplines to create cutting-edge work through research, risk-taking and experimentation using dance, sound, light, film, video and scenic design. Except for a few core members, the company collaborates with new artists for each project. This performance is co-sponsored by NYS DanceForce and Torn Space Theater in partnership with Ujima Company, Inc.

BASTARD is searing. – The New York TimesIt’s worth losing your bearings for a while in the enigmatic atmosphere of this high-art haunted house. – The New York PostDirector/choreographer Pavel Zustiak and his collaborators create rich tableaus that linger in the mind of the spectator. The design is outstanding; each element is notable on its own, and together they fuse into a striking, multisensory landscape. – Contemporary Performance

Click here for tickets. General Admission @ $25
Sat 8/19 – Performance 7:30pm – Followed by an Artist’s Talk with Palissimo Company founder and Artistic Director Pavel Zuštiak
Sun 8/20 – Performance 7:30pm

The Fever, 600 Highwaymen in residence
@ Adam Mickiewicz Library and Dramatic Circle

September 15 & 16


Video by UCCS GOCA.

Torn Space Theater hosts the NYC-based performance company 600 Highwaymen as part of its second annual RESPONSE Festival. Every performance of The Fever is a collaboration with the audience that tests the limits of individual and collective responsibility, and our willingness to be there for one another. Placing the audience center stage, The Fever becomes an observation of human behavior. Who will you be when our eyes are on you? What will we see when we all look your way?

600 Highwaymen is the moniker for artistic duo Abigail Browde and Michael Silverstone. Since 2009 they have devised seven original works, presenting nationally and internationally at venues such as the Under the Radar Festival In New York City and Centre Pompidou and Parc de la Villette in Paris. In 2014 they received an Obie award and in 2016 the New York Foundation for the Arts named them artist fellows.

A poetic evocation of our mostly unspoken – and un-called upon – dependence on one another. – The New York Times; One of New York’s best non-traditional companies. – The New Yorker; Just when you think you might be getting a little cynical about the theatre … think about 600 Highwaymen. – The New Yorker

Click here to purchase tickets. General Admission @ $25
Fri 9/15 – Performance 7:30pm
Sat 9/16 – Performance 4:00pm and 7:30pm – Artists’ Talk with 600 Highwaymen

Other Events
All additional events free and open to the public

Visiting Scholar’s Lecture: Kimberly Jannarone, Professor of Theater Arts at UC Santa Cruz
August 19 @ 5:00pm

In 2017-18, she will be a Fellow at the National Humanities Center to complete her book, Mass Performance, which will examine the history and theory of the under-studied phenomenon of cultural leaders creating events with thousands of people performing the same thing at the same time.

Every year, Torn Space Theater invites an acclaimed theater artist to present a lecture as part of the Scholars Response Series. Past guest lecturers include Bonnie Marranca, co-founder and editor of PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art, and performance theorist Professor Levin of York University.

Humanities Roundtable
September 16 @ 5:30pm

Roundtable discussion with Jacob Gallagher-Ross (University of Toronto) alongside a diverse range of scholars from the University at Buffalo co-sponsored by the University at Buffalo Humanities Institute’s Performance Research Workshop. This event is the latest in Torn Space Theater’s Scholars Response Series.

Click here for additional information on Torn Space Theater’s Response Festival.

Written by Jessica Marinelli

Jessica Marinelli

Jessica Marinelli is an author, speaker, coach, marketer, and business development strategist. Her professional consulting company, MEMC handles all aspects of marketing and business development planning and implementation, assisting with strategic planning initiatives and the creation of marketing action plans, as well as planning and executing private and public events, including: the coaching of individuals, multi-day conferences, as well as other development initiatives. In addition to her work with MEMC, Jessica oversees the day-to-day operations and strategic marketing efforts at Local Matters, Inc. the parent company of Buffalo Rising.

She is active in her community and serves on several non-profit boards, such as WNY Heritage Magazine, O'Connell & Company Productions, and the Women's Business Center (WBC) Advisory Board. She is also a Democratic Committee Member in the Town of Tonawanda. Most recently, She has been asked to serve as the Marketing Consultant for the WBC's COVID Recovery Task Force.

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