Falling Awake: new show by UMO

Before UMO Ensemble debuts its latest work, “Falling Awake: A Fugue State,” at Seattle’s ACT Theatre in March, islanders will have a chance to preview the performance for one night only at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 3, in the black box theater at Open Space for Arts & Community.

Written by islander and UMO company member Maria Glanz and directed by Christopher Petit, the show is a departure from UMO’s tradition of creating its work together in the rehearsal space.

“What’s different is that this piece is completely scripted,” Glanz said, adding that it will be performed by longtime UMO members and several new actors. “To see UMO artists in their 50s working with emerging artists is beautiful, especially in an ensemble piece. They are all living it out together.”

Equity actor Tré Cotton, Emily Huntingford, Kristi Krein and Reid Watson will join UMO members Janet McAlpin, David Godsey and Elizabeth Klob. And while the show is definitely “beautiful,” Klob said it is the hardest piece she’s ever done.

“It’s like grabbing onto an icicle and having it melt in your hand,” she said.

The story line explores the nature of love, identity and memory but not as a straightforward journey. Director and Whitman College theater professor Petit’s exploration of fugues inspired the piece, which is circular and structured like a fugue both in the psychological sense of losing awareness of one’s identity and memory, and by the musical contrapuntal composition.

“It’s heady stuff,” Glanz said, explaining that Petit, who is a friend of Klob’s, brought the concept to UMO to turn into a performance. “Chris and I started exploring different ideas (about fugue), and then I wrote the script.”

Glanz said she’d been ruminating on song chords and the idea that the actions we take early in life create the score or pattern that we end up living out, so relationships tend to repeat.

“Love, memory and loss — those unspoken patterns — is what it’s about,” she said.

A soundscape by Robertson Witmer will expand on the theme of repetitive patterns, and ballroom choreography by Sarah E. Howard will visually express the circular movement.

“It will be a swirl of music and sound and dancing and talking and being,” Glanz said.

Tickets to the preview, presented by UMO and Open Space, will be by donation at the door.