SITE Santa Fe

SITE Santa Fe will host a collaborative stage performance excerpt

“Can We Know the Sound of Forgiveness” draws on 50 years of artist James Drake’s work. (Courtesy of SITE Santa Fe)

“Can We Know the Sound of Forgiveness” draws on 50 years of international artist James Drake’s work.

Opening on Thursday, July 14, SITE Santa Fe will host an excerpt from a work-in-progress collaborative stage performance using Drake’s visuals as both impetus and background.

The aim was to grapple with some of the daunting, complicated questions facing a divided humanity.

Award-winning writer Benjamin Sáenz, Mexican composer Gabriela Ortiz and New York performance artist Shaun Leonardo helm the collaborative work. Drake provided the projected visuals for the performance.

“This is a multi-media stage performance that brings together artists from a number of different disciplines,” producer/director Steve Jiménez said.

The production pairs Drake’s artwork with six live performers, four of those veterans. Featuring both movement and spoken word, it includes a choir of eight singers from the Santa Fe Symphony Chorus, plus a flutist and percussionist.

“The word forgiveness is really charged right now,” Jiménez said. “It’s almost explosive because we live in a time of such divisiveness. We realize most people feel quite far from the forgiveness story, but we think it’s something that merits discussion right now.”

The first movement explores the earth and humanity’s relation to it, Jiménez added.

“The second part of it is really what human beings do to each other.”

The two sections converge in what happens to the Earth as people harm one another.

“The river dries up; the sparrows stop flying,” Jiménez said.

The experimental piece will allow the public to become part of the creative process, curator Leila Hamidi said.

“It started with a conversation with James Drake,” Jiménez said. “He had created this epic work during COVID. We started talking about the need for conversations now.”

The completed work will premiere at Rice University’s Brockman Hall for Opera in Houston sometime in late 2023 or early 2024.

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