Women & Their Work was pleased to present Italy: Real & Imagined, a collaborative installation and performance by Austin artist, Tre Arenz and choreographer/performer, Deborah Hay. The performance installation event was scheduled for Friday, June 26 and Saturday, June 27 from 9 p.m. until midnight.
Arenz and Hay initiated this collaboration on their joint trip to Italy as recipients of a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Collaborative Fellowship. During their time in Italy on the fellowship, Arenz and Hay immersed themselves in the culture, paying close attention to the architecture, language, movements, food, sound, and landscape of the Northern Italian Region.
Over fifty invited performers participated in Italy: Real and Imagined, a thoroughly scripted three-hour performance piece which was broken into ten 15-minute segments. The viewing audience was invited to stay for any length of time, from 15 minutes to the full 3 hours, during this ever-changing participatory performance, which embraced a multi-sensory approach including fully fabricated artistic sets, scripted characters, the aroma of food being prepared, music and more.
The strength of this complex collaboration stemmed from the enthusiasm and commitment of each invited performer playing their prescribed role(s) in this event. Each participant developed his or her character(s) although only Arenz and Hay had a full overview of the multiple roles coming together as a whole prior to the performance. The concept of such a divergent cast uniting under a full array of American Italian presumptions promised unparalleled surprise and cause for community celebration. The performers were real and imagined Italian lovers, parents, grandparents, friends, babies, and actors. “Orson Wells once acutely observed that Italy is full of actors, fifty million of them in fact, and they are almost all good; there are only a few bad ones, and they are on the stage and in the films.” (Luigi Barzini from The Italians).