In 'Songs and Dances of Imaginary Lands,' a drab warehouse provides a home for a modern opera
For O-Lan Jones, the site-specific musical performance piece "Songs and Dances of Imaginary Lands" explores themes so large that it's like a grand opera -- minus the angst.
"It's a playful look at 'Hey, what is the meaning of life?' without the ugh part of it," Jones says, making a rough groaning noise.
As its director, Jones has devoted seven years to the creation of "Songs and Dances," which inhabits a vacant 25,000-square-foot car dealership in Culver City for two weeks of performances that begin Thursday night. The audience traverses the space either by a "train" (pictured) or on foot (dragging along their folding chairs) to accompany the main characters on a journey to 21 "lands," each invoked by a distinct set, design, libretto and music.
According to Jones, audiences responded positively during a run of four preview performances last week. She says, "It's been my experience that people from 18 to 80 appreciate something that has at its heart a basic sense of joy and fun."
David O, the musical director, has enjoyed observing the interaction between the performers and the audience. He notes that the show constantly evolves based on where the train stops and where the audience members decide to plunk down their chairs.
Snezana Petrovic, the set and costume designer, loves that "the show is huge." As well, she says "Songs and Dances" is exciting because "it's something that you cannot commonly find in L.A."
See further coverage here about the melange of elements that makes "Songs and Dances" a unique new theatrical work for Los Angeles audiences, and check out more pictures by clicking on the photo gallery above.
-- Daina Beth Solomon
Photo: Audience members watch a scene unfold while seated on their "train." Credit: Christina House / For The Times