PRODUCE Shelves Itself After 4-Year Run

Photo by Julie Ballard.

PRODUCE, your favorite multi-disciplinary, sound/movement, moderated, improvy, avant garde, real-time mash-up is presenting its final season after continued success in its first three. Why? To borrow one cultural reference: Ain’t nobody got time for that! Host and producer Lauren Warnecke, along wither myriad other jobs, is going back to school for her doctorate starting this fall, leaving less time for projects as labor-intensive as PRODUCE.

Warnecke uses different cultural references to explain. “You know how in Saved By The Bell, everybody graduated and went to college and the show got really bad and awkward? The same thing is happening on GLEE and I want to cut it off before the ‘college years’, before I’m forced to,” she said. “I want to have it go out with a bang. I felt like last year people were just starting to know about it. So in some ways, it’s a major publicity stunt to get people to come. Obviously, it’s a one-time publicity stunt. I’m not saying I’ll never do it again, but I’m using this final season to promote the show. If you haven’t seen this yet, you should. It might be your last opportunity. I want to end it while it’s still good and the experiment is still interesting.”

The “experiment” takes artists chosen from an open call and presents them in a non-traditional format, mixing and matching partners, timing, spacing, music, etc. into a new, in-the-moment, live work with real-time feedback from the hosts and audience. While deciding whether or not to even go forward with Season 4, Warnecke says peer pressure made her do it. Everyone she talked to urged her to keep doing it, stating its importance. Co-producer Julie Ballard weighed in on why. “It’s important for the artists to not take themselves so seriously. To allow somebody else to manipulate it, they have the opportunity to see it fresh. I like the idea that other, full-show collaborations have come out of it. That’s really cool.” Warnecke agrees. “The opportunity to meet new people and to relinquish control of your work…I think that’s crucial. The opportunity for the audience to get inside more experimental, fringy work. This starts a conversation between the artist and the audience to build audiences for experimental performance. It’s also an opportunity to cross-pollinate our audience with the Signal Theater Ensemble Project audience. I think it’s a model for an experiment that could go on indefinitely, because each show is so different. I’m not kicking it to the curb because I don’t think it has staying power, but there is so much good dance and there are so many people trying to have opportunities for performance that I don’t need to be eating up those resources.”

Performers this season include Ashley Deran and dancers, Erica Ricketts, Jessie Marsa and Ben Law, Jose A. Luis, The Space/Movement Project, Jason Javar Lawrence, Lucy Wieczorek and Lysha Hamm, and Those People Who Did That One Thing That One Time.

PRODUCE presented by The Ensemble Project’s Julie Ballard and Anthony Ingram, with Lauren Warnecke/Art Intercepts at Signal Ensemble Theatre, 1802 W. Berenice Ave., Friday-Saturday, August 8-9 at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $12.

After party with DJ Wak, Saturday only from 9 pm – midnight with a $10 suggested donation. Season passes for both shows and the after party are $25.

PRODUCE: What is it?

McCurdy and Zerang.

So, what is PRODUCE? “It’s hard to explain,” said Lauren Warnecke of Art Intercepts. She’s the creator and co-host of the annual artistic mash-up program called PRODUCE.  “I’ve yet to come up with a catchphrase. I usually call it a dance/music experiment or a choose-your-own-adventure novel for experimental dance and music.”

This is the third year for this funky collab show which mixes and matches local artists/groups so that every performance out of the four is unique. ”I’m looking for a reality t.v. show in a live performance,” Warnecke said. “I want conflicting aesthetics, conflicting creative processes, conflicting ideas, conflicting personalities. It’s super trad dancing all the way to playing a drum with a dildo. It’s putting people together who wouldn’t normally be.” Past performers have teamed up for subsequent projects after meeting here.

The Ensemble Project and Signal Ensemble Theatre‘s Julie Ballard (lighting) and Anthony Ingram (sound) are presenting this season of PRODUCE. Ingram also serves as co-host with Warnecke. The performance is broken down into sections. After each section, the audience gives feedback and the co-hosts, acting as “producers”, decide what changes to make with the music, sound, arrangement, pairings, etc. before the next session begins.  “We’re pulling as many manipulations out of these set works as possible. That helps the artists grow and let’s the audience into the process,” said Warnecke. “It’s about wanting to let the audience have a little bit better point of entry in this type of performance (experimental), so they can feel more comfortable with it.”

Performers this year include Country Death Trip, Mark Hardy/Celestial Architecture, Carol McCurdy and Michael Zerang, Philip Elson, The Nexus Project, crawlspace, Newman and Newman and hey girl hey omg girl real life.

Let me get this straight. A mash-up, choose-your-own-adventure, interactive, inclusive, evolving, unique, hosted mix-and-match performance with dancers, musicians, performance artists, a psycho-billy/goth country band, constellation projections, sisters and a drag queen? And you get a drink! All for $8?

Count me in!

The Ensemble Project & Signal Ensemble Theatre’s Julie Ballard and Anthony Ingram present PRODUCE, Friday-Saturday, July 26-27 and Friday-Saturday, Aug. 9-10 at 7:30 pm at Signal Ensemble Theatre, 1802 W. Berenice. Tickets are $7; call 773.341.8940 or visit www.artintercepts.org/upcoming/.