By Evan Leahy
After overwhelming success with their 2013 production, the Drama department will be presenting “But Is It Art?” March 4th and 5th at 7:30 p.m. in the Heiner Theater. While reusing a concept from a previous year, this year’s production features an all-new collection of material.
“But Is It Art?” is a collection of contemporary works “that questions the nature of art,” says Gerry Large, head of the Whatcom Community College Drama Department. He added that the show was hugely popular last time it was presented, selling out both performances.
The main dramatic performance component will be a series of energetic, short dramatic pieces entitled “The Futurists,” says Large. He describes the individual pieces as “wild”, though most are only a minute or so in length.
Dr. Melanie Sehman, head of the Whatcom Music Department, says performance will include at least three pieces from the music department; all of which meant to be consistent with the theme of questioning preexisting assumptions about art. Two of these will be pieces performed by the Contemporary Ensemble and one will be a performance by the Choir and Contemporary Ensemble, she added.
The first ensemble piece will be “Compositions 1960 #6” by LaMonte Young, which “plays with the notion of the performer on stage and the audience in the seats,” Sehman said, adding she didn’t want to give too much of the surprise away.
Sehman said that the second ensemble piece will be an improvisational interpretation of “S-Tog,” a “graphic score” by Mark Applebaum. She explained that graphic scores, rather than in a traditional musical notation, are diagrams of how the music should sound leave a great deal of room for performer interpretation and improvisation. She said that this piece was specifically chosen because of how much emphasis is placed on the development of improvisational skills in Contemporary Ensemble and this piece gives the ensemble a chance to showcase those skills.
Large said that this production features pieces originally composed by professionals, but performed and interpreted by students.
Admission will cost $5 at the door. There will be no reservations.