Expression of the Senses
Nick Cave and his art cultivate the voices of Shreveport Common into all-out performance
A production for all of the senses featuring poetry, music, digital animation, dance and more will aim to bring Shreveport residents together, accepting each other as they are when “AS IS” by Nick Cave is presented 2:30 p.m. March 20 at the Shreveport Municipal Memorial Auditorium.
The event will be the culmination of the artist residency of Cave, nationally renowned “soundsuit” creator, with the Shreveport Regional Arts Council.
“A year ago in March, Nick Cave committed to spend a year here, coming every month to work with what is close to 100 artists in our community ... and create a production of dance, of digital media, of singing, instrumental and spoken word,” SRAC Executive Director Pam Atchison said. “The message is to shed light on the great work that Providence House, Mercy Center, the VOA McAdoo and the VOA Lighthouse are doing as the authentic residents of Shreveport Common.”
Providence House is a program that works to bring homes to the homeless; Mercy Center works with those who are HIV-positive or who have AIDS; the McAdoo Center works with those who have moderate disabilities; and Lighthouse is an after-school program for children.
SRAC At-Large Board Member Daryl Mitchell said Cave is an artist who takes on many roles.
“He’s a sculptor, visual artist, dancer, educator ... so he kind of encompasses a lot of things that we could benefit from here in Shreveport, and he is known all over the world,” Mitchell said. “He wants to do things regarding communities – he thinks he has a civic responsibility to do that now that he’s become so successful.”
Cave’s initiative leading up to the big “AS IS” event was to “blanket” the community with beaded blankets created by residents telling their life stories through various colors and patterns. Residents of the social service organizations as well as community members attending bead-a-thons at the Central ARTSTATION were encouraged to explore their imaginations and their voices through the creation of these beaded blankets.
“The artists have been working with the residents to teach them not just how to bead their own blanket that tells the story of their life, but also tell their stories to one another as they’re beading,” Atchison said.
These stories will be portrayed and related through the various artistic expressions of the “AS IS” event, Atchison said.
Josh Porter, production director, said the “AS IS” event will feature artists of all kinds from the local and regional area, and the line-up has been influenced by Cave’s vision and outline.
“There is something for everybody,” Porter said. “There’s spoken word, there’s dance, digital animation, local musicians, a choir. We’ve cast a wide net with who we’ve been working with, so it is probably the truest representation of Shreveport as well as the arts community.”
One of those performers, Poetic X, said he has drawn inspiration from working with residents of the social service organizations at the Shreveport Common while leading writing workshops and just interacting with residents there.
“Sitting down with them and gathering their stories or sitting down and watching the events, basically them gathering and listening to their communication and talking amongst each other,” he said. “I’ve been kind of getting a feel for their lifestyles, what they do outside the residences, what they do in the residences.”
Poetic X will present his spoken word art along with music from a violinist, and he shared a snippet of his piece that was inspired by the residents in Shreveport Common: “Not all days are as warm as we would wish/No matter how much we call upon the comfort of the sun/Some days we miss.”
Other performers slated to appear include Big Freedia, New Orleans’ Queen of Bounce, singer Brenda Wimberly, dancers from Northwestern State University and more. Those working on the production include Luther Cox Jr. of Inter City Row Modern Dance Company, Moviesauce Creative Director Evan Falbaum and Michael Futreal, who is creating the original score.
Porter said just as the show will feature a variety of different forms of art, the venue itself will serve multiple functions to enrapture and stimulate the audience.
“We’re using the entire capacity of the Municipal Auditorium, so we’re using the stage itself and the arena floor, and we’ll have this double decker look connected with this reflective slide,” he said. “We’re bringing in a large LED digital floor. Then there’s a large screen at the back of the stage as well, so there will be visual elements going below the artists, behind the artists - it is something for the senses. Every inch will be moving: the floors, the walls and the performers.”
Mitchell said Cave’s goal is for people to come together and connect without passing judgment.
“I’ve been involved in arts for a long time – I think art breaks down barriers, it has the power to enact positive social transformation between people,” Mitchell said. “One of [Cave’s] things is that he talks a lot about transforming, and that has done a lot for Shreveport.”
The hope is that even after Cave’s residency is complete and the event is over, the movement will continue to affect the community, Porter said.
“This project is not just about the show in March, [but] about how that lasting impact happens after them making those relationships,” Porter said. “The show has been the catalyst for that and the start of that, and after Nick leaves there will still be these ripples that transcend after.”
The goal is for the community to realize that people’s differences are what makes the area cultural and exciting, Atchison said, and for people to accept each other “as is.”
“We believe the only way Shreveport Common is to become this vibrant, healthy, vivacious community is when visitors and tourists and neighbors start accepting these neighbors as is and find out what’s creative and artistic about them,” Atchison said. “So that’s what we’ve been doing for a year.”
Want to go?
Tickets for the event range from $15 to $40 and can be purchased through Ticketmaster.com or through the CenturyLink box office, which can be reached by calling 747-2501 or 841-4000, or at the Shreveport Convention Center box office.
For more information, go to nickcaveasis.com. See the teasers online at nickcaveasis.com/nick-cave-video-teasers.