In horse pulled wagons stocked with a bicycle powered silent cinema, an Appalachian-balkan-brass-klezmer-dixieland-string ensemble, kinetic sculpture and their signature low-tech theater appliances, the newly formed Rural Academy Theater staged their innovative performances in the town greens, theaters, college campuses, and pastures of Western North Carolina.
“By not relying on gasoline powered propulsion or being dependent upon electricity and the typical expensive gadgetry associated with professional theater, we will be traveling and performing at a much more human pace, one that will allow for a more thorough integration into the communities and lives we visit,” said Gabriel Harrell, the theater’s co-founder.
Central to the theater’s mission is to celebrate and call attention to the rural, in opposition to the global urbanization of our culture, economy, food, media, education and art. “While most theater and communication systems at present promote high tech, expensive and therefore exclusive models, we will present a distinctly low tech, inexpensive, inclusive model,” said Noah Harrell, Gabriel’s brother and co-founder of the company. Of the project’s socially minded agenda and community volunteer/workshop opportunities, Noah adds, “We feel such a model empowers individuals and communities to speak for themselves, facilitating the discussion of local social justice issues and connects communities through socially minded art.”
The show was an un-fluid layering of puppetry, prose, mathematical instruction, dance and history lesson. It examined the 200 year old Enlish Luddite uprisings, the scientific/ moral complexities surrounding the work of Nikola Tesla, and the invention of the shovel to better understand the human need to create and call into question the worth and validity of new ideas. This was followed by a screening of Buster Keaton’s “The High Sign” and Ladislaw Starewicz’ s 1912 film “The Cameraman’s Revenge” as viewed on our very own bicycle powered projector and accompanied by The Rural Academy Orkestar.
Following our show the audience is always invited to peruse our traveling Cheap Art Emporium.