The Obsidian Show, Fall 2008 / Winter 2009

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“The words and the physical poetry of human movement and stillness resonated within me during the evening, and the reader of my single tarot card was either very perceptive, psychic, or very lucky. Thanks again for your dreams, my thoughts and the rock and the lubricant”

ABOUT THE SHOW

Provocative, and powerful, Obsidian is an intense journey – an immersion – designed to draw the live audience into a created world. It’s dark, visual, sensual, psychological, in the theme of obsessive love, producing an exhilarating experience. Incorporating performance art, circus acts, dance, movement, spoken word, and so much more, Obsidian is also unbelievably hot, in my own special twisted cerebral flavor.

Obsidian is a large, interactive show, with about 30 cast and crew members entwining with our audience. The show opens as a vaudeville style circus, with uplifting accordion music lofting through the bustling air. As the circus begins, we are introduced to the Obsidian Carnival family, including the carnival’s prized starlette, Zita the Aerialist. It seems like Zita has it all, but a powerful stranger soon shows us that things are not always as they seem.

The Obsidian Show is a thought provoking epic, showcasing layer upon layer of subtle and profound story. The characters are paired with counterparts or otherwise coupled as a means to provide tension and depth. The show is committed to encouraging you to question; What is the true controlling force in our lives?

OBSIDIAN’S INCEPTION

Obsidian was an intensely personal show, stemming from places I only vaguely knew I had. I spoke about that process at length on my blog a few times.

As fate would have it, I wrote, directed, and starred in Obsidian immediately following an intensely painful breakup from an emotionally abusive sociopath. Obsidian became a part of my therapy and helped me to take my life back. In addition to it being an amazing show, Obsidian was an important way for me to channel my grief and harness the power that I had lost within that destructive relationship. Pressing onward and doing the show allowed me to use what I saw as my weaknesses to connect with and move both myself and my audience.

Each main character is imbibed with an embodiment of a part of my psyche. For quite some time, I was planning to switch between the Zita character and The Obsessor during the 5 month show run. Turns out I wasn’t able to direct, co-produce, and star in two very opposing roles – so I stuck with the one I gravitated to more. Zita the Aerialist.

RESURRECTION

“As someone who was body painted I have nothing but awesome things to report. The audience is encouraged and emboldened by being in a group, and that is part of the magic. The thought that went into the whole concept is awesome and the integral nature of it being woven into this show is superb. Their faces portray a medley of trepidation, hesitancy, wonder, and curiosity. Once they start you can feel love and appreciation being transmitted from their being, through the brush and paint, into your own. It is beautiful and spiritual. It is an honor for me to be a “guardian of the dead” and then a canvas for the artistry of the audience. Thank you Courtness for the opportunity.” – Bruce Magnotti

I discovered with Obsidian – simultaneously my first and most ambitious directorial experience – that as a director, I am most at home when providing supportive and transformative experiences for the performance artists. My hallmark is encouraging my cast and crew to stretch to the edges of their range with subject matter that challenges them. I see my job as helping those who are supporting me in expressing myself to deepen their stories with their experiences in my shows. Because of this, much of my cast and crew has been intensely loyal to me as well as to the concept of The Obsidian Show.

In 2011, I was encouraged by my cast once again to consider mounting Obsidian for a second run. We began working on it, planning how we might leverage the experience and knowledge gained in the years since the first show, which included digging into the story more and tying up the loose ends that we hadn’t had the opportunity to cauterize the first time.

CAST

  • The Ringmaster (Played by David Cohen / Andrew Cardillo)
    Opposite: Dawn
  • Zita the Aerialist (Played by Courtnee Papastathis)
    Opposite: Boris
  • Boris the Strongman (Played by Shawn Keegan)
    Opposite: Zita
  • The Obsessor (Dawn) (Played by Beverly Sobelman)
    Opposite: The Ringmaster
  • Chameleon (Played by Lance Channing, Greg Bennick, Jad)
    Opposite: The Beast (which is an extension of the same energy from which Chameleon comes — Chameleons pet, familiar, or daemon).
  • The Beast (Played by Benjamin Soler)
  • DustBunny (Played by Kerry Christianson)
    Opposite: BeastMaster
  • BeastMaster (Played by Donn Christianson)
    Opposite: DustBunny
  • DustBunny’s Doll (Played by Sophia Sky)
    Opposite: The Handyman
  • The Handyman (Played by Jim Duvall)
    Opposite: The Doll
  • Mayhem and Noname – The Clowns (Played by Ben Dobyns and Kaleen Mills)
    Opposite: One another
  • The Juggler/Magician (Played by Cody Allison and Nancy Erikson)
    Opposite: The Acrobalancers
  • The Acrobalancers (Sara Olson Sparrow and Graeme Quinn of Levity)
    Opposite: The Juggler/Magician

EXTRAS

Among the main characters with storyline and potentially some dialogue, there were many extras which had purpose but simply weren’t accesible or large enough to deepen their official presence in the show. The actors were encouraged to produce their own backstories and look for opportunities to interact with the audience as well as other characters in an improvisational basis. No show was exactly the same.

Stallion girls (Played by Adrienne MacIain and Heather Lainer)
Bearded lady (Played by Christina Dietrich)
Bearded Ladies Pet (Played by Leopold)
Tarot Reader (David Trotter)
Aerialists (Played by Bruce Magnotti and Simonne Garrigues)
Chester the Stagehand (Played by Beau Prichard)
Fortune teller (Played by Kirsten Lauzon)
Musician (Played by Taylor Reinhardt Matson)
Baker (Played by Kim Black)
Childlike Ghost (Played by Lucy Kee)
The Poets (Eileen Fix, Chris Jarmick, Shoshauna Glick, David Jones, Ben Sodencamp)
Dancers (Kelly Rothwell, Anthony Poff, Cherilynn Brooks, Roxanne Rae, Letha Fernandez-Stray)

A MEMORIAL

“One of those shows that will never leave me, or any of us, and thus will never really be over.” – Adrienne MacIain

On May 21, 2012, I ended preparations for the impending Obsidian remount. Shortly after beginning the work to remount the show, I came to the realization that it wasn’t going to work. There were some shining moments that I was looking forward to experiencing again, but the motivation wasn’t there – I had healed, and moved beyond the point in my life where I wished to be immersed in the energy of the show long term, which has a life to it all its own.

With my love, this page serves as The Obsidian Show’s official memorial.

Thank you, Obsidian. You changed me.

CREDITS

Creative Director/Writer: Courtnee Papastathis
Theatrical Director/Choreographer: Kerry Christianson
Producer: Jeff Hengst (Little Red Studio)
Stage Manager: Beau Prichard
Tech: Willow Brugh, Baron Von Oldenburg, Phil Brucato, Sandra Buskirk

  • The Obsidian Show could not have become a reality without Jeff Hengst of Little Red Studio. The environment in which the Obsidian Carnivale atmosphere was created directly correlated with the work Jeff has done to break down the fourth wall as well as many other barriers of conventional theater. The roadmap for Jeffs studio events served as a guide for me and provided the structure I needed to succeed as a first time director. I was able to touch and move my audience in ways I may not have thought possible without his influence.

5 Replies to “The Obsidian Show, Fall 2008 / Winter 2009”

  1. Dear Courtnee,

    I finally found this page, a beautiful tribute to an unforgettable, experience. We all have individual peak memories of LRS, but I think many would agree that, maybe along with the Halloween Show, that Obisidian was our best collective effort. I’m divided between sadness that it will never be repeated and gratitude that I was able to be a little part of it and to have lived inside while we all breathed together. There aren’t many times in a life when anyone gets to do that. Sure, we can create, work, watch sunsets, and more, but LRS, and Obsidian, were like nothing I ever expected to touch in my life. They fell into my lap, like a gift from somewhere well outside everyday life, and forever changed mine. Blessing, blessing, yeah…all that. Thank you for creating this page for us, and for putting me on it. It helps me feel forever connected to it.

    I hope you’re well, your small house project is moving forward, and life is good.

    Yours always, Leopold

  2. Nee, I finally happened upon this page too, and am so thrilled to have such a pivotal moment in my life brought back to the forefront of my memories!

    My part was rather insignificant, but to me it was a much higher level of all the amazing LRS experiences. To be in the company of such diverse, talented and creative people, to see your vision come to life and touch so many – that was incredible!

    Thanks for being you. Don’t ever be anything else.

    Love!

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