A return of ‘Middle Kingdom’
WHO: The Center for the Arts DISCOVER SERIES presents
WHAT: The Middle Kingdom: An original play and score by Dylan Sheets
WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday, May 9
WHERE: The Center for the Arts Main Stage Theater
314 W. Main Street, Grass Valley
TICKETS: $20 members, $24 non-member, $15 student
(Ticket price includes $2 facility fee. Does not include applicable fee for online purchases.)
The Center Box Office - 530-274-8384 ext 14
BriarPatch Co-op Community Market - 530-272-5333
Tickets online at http://www.thecenterforthearts.org
Back by popular demand, artist/musician Dylan Sheets brings his original musical play, “The Middle Kingdom,” to the Center for the Arts Main Stage Theater for a one performance tonight. The debut weekend in the Center’s Off Center stage met with rave reviews and sell-out crowds. Discover Series curator Sara Zahn says, “We’re excited to bring this very special evening of original musical theater to The Center’s beautiful Main Stage Theater. The production will benefit from the state-of-the-art lights and sound the theater offers.”
Dylan Sheets and Bluebird Gaia find inspiration in the hollow hills of Ireland with her rich stock of legends and folklore. “The Middle Kingdom” is based on the story of Midhir and Etain, culled from the 12th century manuscript Lebor na huidre and believed to be written in the language of the 8th century. It is an ancient love tale revolving around an otherworldly Goddess Etain.
Dylan Sheets of Lasher Keen has taken this myth and turned it into a theatrical musical play, combining bardic storytelling, theater, dance, music and even shadow play. It was after reading the plays of W.B. Yeats and researching his involvement in the Irish Theater movement that Dylan began to see a model to base his own theatrical vision.
“The Middle Kingdom” started as a two person play, with Dylan Sheets and Bluebird Gaia intended as the sole players. Once writing began in the winter of 2012 it became clear that more people were needed to fulfill what was fast becoming a very ambitious project. The current show includes a children’s choir made up of students from the Nevada City School Of The Arts, an adult choir with the voices of Tynowyn Woolman, Kaliko Wright, Jessica Henry and Brook Caballero to create a mystical sonic soundscape of spine tingling proportions.
Also performing are musical collaborators Leonna Sapphire, piano, organ and harpsichord, James Word, gong, timpani, udo, surdo and jango, and of course Bluebird and Dylan tackling an array of harps, flutes, cellos, violins, tambura’s, horns, orchestral bells, lyres, vibraphones bodhran’s, and vocals.
If this wasn’t enough to breathe life into the myths of their ancestors, they decided to bringing actors and dancers on board. Antoinette Quintal and Tina Jackson have become The Middle Kingdom’s resident dancers offering shadow play, singing, acting and costume changes that will keep you guessing who they are.
Fifteen-year-old Fiona Gaia, daughter of Dylan and Bluebird is debuting for her first time on an acting stage as the lead role of Etain. Nils Frykdahl, from the legendary Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Faun Fables and Free Salamander Exhibit, will be the lead male role of Midhir. Wanderer and minstrel Patience Yanderling is Eochaidh Airem, High King of all Ireland. Elizabeth Grady has come into her own as the stoic Wind Goddess, Fuamnach. The Irish King’s brother will be performed by Mount Whateverest bass player and drummer Steve Melendez.
Bluebird Gaia, in addition to lending her musical talents to the play, is also designing and making the costumes inspired by turn of the century art nouveau artist Stephen Reid. She studied costuming and has worked with The Dell Arte International Theater in Humboldt.
The music for “The Middle Kingdom” was written by Dylan Sheets and recorded in October of 2014. The direction of the album leans towards a more classically baroque influenced sound combined with zany avant garde psychedelia to give a balanced approach to the timeless theme of love. The album will be for sale at all of the shows as a CD or as preorder vinyl.
Take an excursion into a realm where time is but a memory, where high magic runs afoot, where the senses become tangled in a web of misty dreams, where the voices of harmony create worlds with song, where the rivers flow with mead and none have thoughts of greed. Look no further than “The Middle Kingdom” that lies over the enchanted sea.
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