Pete Guither, former assistant dean (as well as a photographer, writer, editor, tour guide, teacher, director, musician, mentor, website designer, publications designer, commencement facilitator and general jack-of-all-trades) for the College of Fine Arts at Illinois State University, is keeping busy in his newly retired state. As the artistic director of The Living Canvas, Pete has been working for some time to use elements including projections, lights, movement and unclothed performers to express "the beauty and expressive power of the human form."
This time out, Guither is one of the producers of a newly devised piece called [Trans]formation, presented as a collaboration between The Living Canvas and Chicago's Nothing Without a Company. The other producer is Anna Rose Ii-Epstein, co-artistic director of Nothing Without a Company
[Trans]formation is intended as an exploration of "the naked truth of gender identity." The current production, running through December 17 at the Vault at Collaboraction Studios in the Flat Iron Arts Building in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood, serves as its world premiere. It has been "devised entirely from the works of and performed by transgender, genderqueer, intersex, and non-binary artists. Designed and directed in the style of The Living Canvas, nude performers embody the expressive power and diversity of the human form under evocative projections to reveal, instead of conceal, every body’s beautiful possibility."
Director Gaby Labotka, an ISU alum, was also on the team that devised the piece, along with Ronen Kohn, Darling Squire, Avi Roque and Kevin Sparrow. The cast is composed of Kohn and Sparrow as well as Gabriel Faith Howard, Lily Ryan-Lozon, Chase Nuerge and Ben Polson. If you're looking for another ISU connection, you'll find one in sound designer Sarah Putts.
Because of the nature of [Trans]formation and what it's trying to communicate, each performance will include added content both before and after the show. That means there will be a short artistic "portrait" by a local (local to Chicago, presumably) transgender/non-binary artist before the show begins and a discussion afterwards that includes an opportunity for audience members to jump into the "transformation" process on stage if they are so inclined. Those who want to will have the chance to put their own bodies under the projections onstage.
Although [Trans]formation opened in previews last week, there are plenty of performances left to catch. In fact, there is a special Monday night performance tonight to make up for the company taking Thanksgiving Thursday off. After Thanksgiving, they'll resume their regular schedule of performances on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 7 pm. You can get tickets at Brown Paper Tickets and more information at both The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company sites.