"For white people," says Oak Chezar, "seeing their own privilege is like fish seeing that they're in water."
Chezar and her troupe of performance artists, Vox Feminista, plan to make audiences step back and reassess their complacency about -- and complicity in -- the abuses of race and power in the United States. Their new stage show is called White Noise: Asleep in the American Dream, a followup to Vox's 2003 production, White Lies. With Noise, Chezar and comrades Joy Boston, Mona Estrada, Andrea Gibson, Michele Arrieta, Libby Mann and Raven Tekwe take aim at hypocrisy and inequality through its satirical, multimedia mélange.
"Vox Feminista started out as a giant poetry reading that went on for four hours," she says of the group's origin sixteen years ago. "It was interesting, but it's become a lot more focused. Now we do things in a cabaret style: spoken word, drums, dance. I even have a fake news show on stage. I think we offend people all the time, but that's our tagline: ŒWe're here to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.'"
The alarm goes off tonight at 8 p.m. at the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California Street; three additional performances are scheduled for November 5, 12 and 19. The admission price is on a sliding scale between $10 and $30; as Chezar explains, "There's a vast difference in economics between people who come to our shows, and we're asking everyone to pay what they can afford. But no one will be turned away." Call 720-225-9378 or visit www.voxfeminista.org for info. -- Jason Heller
The curtain rises on opera at the Ellie.
"For me, the story is that the city really has been changing," says Peter Russell, president and general director of Opera Colorado. "There has been this kind of quantum leap in terms of the arts." The arts take another leap forward tonight, when Bizet's Carmen becomes the first opera staged at the new Ellie Caulkins Opera House at the Denver Performing Arts Complex.
With the Ellie, Russell saw operatic opportunities -- and interest -- the company didn't have at Boettcher or the Buell. "We sold out our first hard-hat tour of the Ellie in a day," he remembers. "A five-watt lightbulb went off like an epiphany over our hard-hatted heads, and we wound up doing 46 tours." They finally had to quit, because otherwise the Ellie might never have opened.
But it did, right in time for Carmen to kick off Opera Colorado's season. Although tickets are going fast, particularly for the five Denyce Graves performances, some remain for the three alternate-cast nights and the matinee, which promises to be a uniquely Denver experience. "If you go to most other opera companies' performances, matinees are a recipe for Geezerville," Russell says. "Denver skews younger. People are more open-minded; they're willing to try anything."
To try Carmen, which runs from November 3 to 13, go -- quickly -- to www.operacolorado.org. -- Patricia Calhoun