Today and Saturday only, upstart local theater and production company Synthetic Unlimited presents “Star and Stone,” its first original performance in its new black box theater in Grass Valley.
This redemptive one-woman dance theater piece, created and performed by poet Grace Totherow, combines story-telling, spoken word, gesture, dance and song to create a powerful, visceral experience. She explores the depths of emotion, ancestral lineage, dreams and the nature of time in her text and “takes her audience on a journey through the dark waters of transformation to discover the alchemical healing potential of the human experience.”
Local female dancers, writers and musicians open with a collaborative celebration of feminine expression.
Since creating her first “moving monologue” in a dance theater program 15 years ago, Totherow has immersed herself in the performing arts.
Nevada County provided fertile ground for her to explore her creativity and collaborate with numerous artists. She was a member of the dance theater company The Glass Bead Players and a member of the band Organic Flood. She offered writing and performance opportunities to teens and children through Literature Alive’s Inkwell Program and California Poets in the Schools.
Totherow also visited New Folsom Prison many times as a guest facilitator for the prison’s poetry Program. She produced her first solo album, “Lilyonyx in the Isis Rise,” in 2007 and released it with a local show featuring 14 local women dancing to the album tracks.
Totherow left Nevada County in 2009 and moved to the canyonlands of southern Utah. She learned to play the guitar and toured as a duo with fiddler Billy Raaen throughout the Pacific Northwest with their album, “Fibonacci.”
The summer of 2013 was a culminating point in her journey as an artist. She received a grant from a local foundation to produce and direct a work of dance theater with citizens of Boulder, Utah. The collaboratively created piece, “Deep Wake,” was performed on Sept. 2, 2013, on a beautiful barn stage, with bats flying through at the most perfect moments. As she facilitated the creation of “Deep Wake,” Totherow also wrote her long-time-coming solo show, “Star and Stone.”
“I’ve always felt there was some kind of one-woman-show I wanted to create,” Totherow said. “I had glimpses of what it would be, but this summer it was like ripe fruit falling from a tree. All of my life experiences and insights thus far coalesced and found form inside the movement and text of ‘Star and Stone.’ Creating and sharing this raw and vulnerable show with my community is a big initiation for me.”
“Star and Stone” is being produced in Grass Valley by Totherow’s friend and colleague Grace Fae, a producer at the local theater collective Synthetic Unlimited.
“We hit it off right away,” Fae says, “I am honored to sometimes be confused with her in the mind of the community.”
The two women collaborated on dance, writing and musical performance back in 2007, when they taught creative writing and spoken-word classes at Nevada Union and Bear River high schools through The Center for the Arts Literature Alive! Program. They have written and choreographed several songs and dance theater performance pieces together.
For this event, Fae has put together an amazing group of local poets and modern dancers, including Loraine Webb, poet laureate of Nevada County, and Synthetic Unlimited actress Rhiannon Winders, a local film maker and dancer, opens with an original spoken word and dance choreography piece with Shellee Sepko. Solo dancers explore original material in pieces called“Grief Ritual” and “Maternity Leave.” Modern dancers Amber Cone and teacher Azriel Le Marca bring a group dance piece to close the first act, with live music by Beaucoup Chapeaux’s Murray Campbell.
Totherow performs her show after a short intermission. Synthetic Unlimited women will act as hostesses for this event.
Star and Stone runs for two nights only, Friday and Saturday, at the Synthetic Unlimited Opera House, 120 Joerschke Drive in Grass Valley, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 and are available at BriarPatch and at www.syntheticunlimited.org/.