While Mueller has been experimenting with non-proscenium-style settings for a long time now, his newest work, Solace, is a house performance — or, more precisely, an experience in Mueller’s garage — and a new model for challenging audiences to become a part of the action. For Mueller, immersion in performance isn’t just a case of audience participation, which has the pitfall of turning hokey. Instead, it’s about heightened senses for everyone, dancers and audiences alike, and little epiphanies of experiential communion. Solace premieres on Friday, February 16, for six performances that run through March 3. The space will accommodate only twenty audience members per show.
The Solace project, a continuation of Control Group’s ongoing performance series Dances Made to Be Viewed in the Dark, initially began as a film proposal. “We’re in a place in growth where we’re ready to reach larger audiences, outside of the Front Range,” Mueller explains. “But we realized that the idea was so rich that we needed to bring people into it first. I'm excited to see how it reflects itself in different ways through the several different eyes that witness it.” In addition, the performance will serve as a fundraiser toward producing the film.
And as for the venue, Mueller says, “First, it’s in our home. That’s been driving the content of how informal and intimate and welcoming we can make the world we’re in more inviting. It’s the size of a container, so it’s quite intimate — a tight little room to sit in together.” He acknowledges that it’s part of a movement that’s finding inter-arts traction as artists and performers seek new answers to traditional questions.
The intimacy of a space, Mueller notes, encourages immersive treatments and integrated audience participation. “Immersive work is a communal act of moving around the world together. I leave those experiences feeling like we really did something together. No one is invisible to each other.” In this way, the performance sets a scene where time and place are suspended, and most likely magical. “In Solace, you’ll be sitting in a fog, with its own scent and atmosphere, where you’ll even feel a noticeable temperature differential. You go there in a full sensory way; it feels like you’re suddenly on an Adirondack lake in late fall.”
“Even if people are not trained artists, they have a point of view, an aesthetic preference, something to offer to the experience they're engaging in.” That said, it’s clear that no performance can be exactly the same. Solace is an ever-changing story.
Solace opens on Friday, February 16, at 7:30 p.m. at the Mueller-Whittle home in Lakewood; shows continue at the same time on Fridays and Saturdays through March 3. Space is limited; tickets are $35 in advance at Brown Paper Tickets. If seats are still available, admission goes up to $45 at the door. Learn more online.