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Torn Space Theater brings nationally acclaimed company Palissimo’s production of “Bastard” to the 2017 RESPONSE fest

Torn Space Theater hosts the NYC-based performance company Palissimo, August 19 and 20, as part of its second annual RESPONSE FestivalArtistic director, Dan Shanahan, and associate director, Melissa Meola, created RESPONSE Festival as a source of internationally acclaimed contemporary performance, not currently found in Western New York. 

Bastard was choreographed by Czechoslovakian-born artistic director, Pavel Zuštiak, and is the first part of the company’s The Painted Bird trilogy. The work was 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 nonprofessional dancers drawn from the community.”

The Company was founded in 2004 by its artistic director Pavel Zuštiak, and describes itself as “Art that moves,” “an interdisciplinary platform for research, development and production of live arts.”

Palissimo’s mission is to “attain artistic liberty in pursuit of an authentic communion between performers and spectators, and to inspire and impact audiences and the art field. Palissimo is innovative in its approach to contemporary performance practices and has facilitated diverse artistic collaborations since its inception.” 

BASTARD / The Painted Bird: Part 1, The opening section of the trilogy shows the most direct narrative connection to its literary source. Conceived as a visceral, physically demanding and courageous solo for the Slovak dancer Jaro Viňarský (awarded 2013 Bessie for Outstanding Performer for his portrayal of Kosiński’s persecuted outsider/ wanderer in this piece), it draws upon crucial scene of The Painted Bird novel—a bird captured by a human is brilliantly painted and then freed to return to its flock, only to be violently killed by its own kind as a perceived interloper. A forceful performance by the soloist concludes by a group scene with an ensemble of dancers and nonprofessionals drawn from the community where the work is presented, transforming the internal landscape of agony and misrecognition into a collective remembrance.

La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club describes Bastard as a, “Bosch-like harrowing story of the wandering boy abandoned by his parents during World War II, The Painted Bird is a dark masterpiece that examines the proximity of terror and savagery to innocence and love. Its central scene anchors this poetic outcry on otherness, belonging and human nature. The stage work of mythic proportion—is even more relevant today than it was upon its original run. Its mysterious, multi-layered surreal images charged with emotional power strike and linger.  

Video by Palissimo Company.

Bastard, Palissimo Company in residence @ Adam Mickiewicz Library and Dramatic Circle, August 19 & 20

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. Buffalo Rising is also a Media Sponsor. 

BASTARD is searing. – The New York Times; It’s worth losing your bearings for a while in the enigmatic atmosphere of this high-art haunted house. – The New York Post; Director/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



Torn Space Theater offers both original drama and new interpretations of existing plays in collaboration with local actors, composers, sculptors, video artists and designers.

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


This content was produced in collaboration between Buffalo Rising and Torn Space Theater. The facts and opinions published in Buffalo Rising express solely the thoughts and opinions of our respective authors.

Written by Jessica Marinelli

Jessica Marinelli

Jessica Marinelli is a WNY native, born and raised in the Lincoln Park area of Tonawanda. She has been involved in local politics from an early age and is currently a Tonawanda Democratic Committee Member. As an avid equestrian and animal-lover, she trained and re-homed over 40 horses. For over a decade, she was an event planner with the law firm, Hodgson Russ LLP, and now owns her own marketing and event management company. She has worked with international and national organizations on large and small scale events. Jessica writes on politics and local events, as well as working with Buffalo Rising as a social reporter.

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