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Attack Theatre work makes playground of the stage

| Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2010

An anniversary is a perfect excuse for a retrospective. That was Attack Theatre's intention during early planning for the first program of its 15th season.

"The problem was that we'd go to rehearsal and keep making new things. In theory, it was supposed to include some older things. There are some references but a lot of ideas we walked in with ended up, quite honestly, getting canned," says co-director Michele de la Reza.

Attack Theatre will present "Site/Re-Site" Thursday to Saturday and Sept. 23 to 25 at the old and now abandoned Questions nightclub in the Strip District.

The show's title "Site/Re-Site" reflects the group's exploration over the past 15 years of the impact of different performing environments on its dance. The dancers take inspiration from transforming abandoned spaces into "kinetic playgrounds."

"We talked a lot about the overall idea and went with the notion of questions, because that's what the bar was called. We have huge question marks throughout the space," says de la Reza.

The first of three sections is performed to recorded music and presents literal questions drawn from song lyrics.

The second section is more metaphorical in its presentation of questions, which she says is the logical place for live music.

"Live music is incredibly important to us. Usually we work with one band but decided to challenge ourselves for this show by using four bands," de la Reza says. "It will create an aural landscape of different dimensions for our movement. It's been fascinating to see how universal movement can be. We've found certain things become funny in ways we didn't intend or more poignant as we shift from one musical genre to another."

The musical groups Attack Theatre is bringing together are its house band Deoro, Daryl Fleming and the Public Domain, Ben Hardt and the Symphony and Chatham Baroque.

Each of the bands will be featured on different nights performing in the second section. All will perform each night in the third section, doing interpretations of the other groups' music. In the third section, the dancers will use the entire nightclub space to perform, which is the "Re-Site" of the show's title.

Ben Hardt was surprised by the invitation from Attack Theatre, although his rise in the Pittsburgh musical scene over the past few years has been notable. His group is called the Symphony in tribute to Count Basie and other '40s bands, and his current project is songs set in World War II London where an American falls in love with an English girl. Some of those songs, which soon will be released on three CDs, will be performed for Attack Theatre's shows.

Deoro percussionist Chuck Palmer says that in reinterpreting other musicians' songs for this show "we do need to keep it somewhat similar for the dancers, in terms of time. But we hope all the bands will feel creative license. We're going to twist it and look at it from a lot of different angles and at the same time be recognizable."

Saturday night's performance will be a Deoro CD release party. Their album, "Kingston Morning," was recorded at studios used by reggae superstar Bob Marley and includes musicians who performed with him.

"I've never worked with Attack Theatre and am looking forward to the whole thing," Fleming says. "I remember that a band called Watershed that I played in in the '90s did a party with Attack Theatre when it first started out. It's great to see them establish themselves over the past 15 years."

Additional Information:

'Site/Re-Site'

Presented by: Attack Theatre

When: 8 p.m. Thursday to Saturday and Sept. 23 to 25

Admission: $25; $20 in advance; $15 for students, seniors and teachers; $35 for CD release party on Saturday

Where: 1400 Smallman St., Strip District

Details: 412-394-3353 or website

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